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Franken to leave Senate on Jan. 2

Plus: Minnesota in danger of losing U.S. House seat; state officials say PolyMet Mining should put up more than $1 billion in ‘financial assurances’; arctic blast is coming; and more.

Sen. Al Franken
REUTERS/Gary Cameron

The resignation is real. Elise Viebeck at The Washington Post says: “Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) plans to resign his seat on Jan. 2 in response to multiple allegations that he touched women inappropriately, his office confirmed Wednesday. The decision followed Franken’s announcement earlier this month that he would leave Capitol Hill amid growing controversy over his behavior toward women before entering politics. … Franken is expected to speak at least once more on the Senate floor before his resignation, a spokesman said.” Don’t hold back, Al.

Speaking of Congress … At MPR, Brian Bakst says: “New population estimates released Wednesday show Minnesota is in serious trouble of losing a U.S. House seat and would have to leapfrog other states to keep its current eight. The 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau forecast that Minnesota is about 30,500 people shy of retaining its current complement in Congress based on the population shifts in other parts of the country. The once-a-decade reapportionment won’t happen until after the official American headcount done in 2020, so nothing is certain.” Yeah, Texas will get two more.

Okay. Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress writes, “After being widely criticized for mocking members of a student group that wanted nothing more but to meet with her, Minnesota Rep. Mary Franson (R) responded with a private Facebook post suggesting she was worried about becoming the next Roy Moore. ‘A man’s life was destroyed in AL,’ Franson wrote, alluding to Moore. ‘40 years ago he met with minors alone and they recently accused him of horrendous actions. In the world of we must believe every sexual harassment claim, I would think my approach is beyond reasonable. All it takes is one perceived action and my life is destroyed. The life of my family is destroyed. That is a risk I will not take.’”

Just put it in an escrow account. I’ll handle it.  Says Dan Kraker at MPR, “State officials estimate that PolyMet Mining should put up more than $1 billion dollars in so-called ‘financial assurances’ about half-way through the mine’s operating life, the first indication from state regulators of the potential amount of environmental liability Minnesota’s first-ever copper-nickel mine could leave behind. The estimate is contained in internal Minnesota Department of Natural Resources documents the agency has compiled as it moves toward releasing a draft permit to mine for the proposed mine in northeastern Minnesota, possibly as soon as early January. The state also estimates that $580 million will need to be deposited into a state-controlled trust fund by the time the mine closes after 20 years … .”

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We got yer winter right here. At MPR, Paul Huttner says, “All indications are the Arctic air mass persists through next week. The longer range guidance is hinting at what could be the coldest air in many years around New Year’s Day. This is probably overdone, and the numbers may modify, but it got my attention. I can’t remember the last time I saw a model crank out -33 for the Twin Cities.” 

Among the winners in tax reform: Wells Fargo! For CNN Money, Lydia DePillis writes, “Some of Wall Street’s largest banks stand to win big from the tax bill now hurtling its way towards the president’s desk — but among them, Wells Fargo will make out the best. That’s according to an analysis released Monday by the equity research team at Goldman Sachs, which ran the numbers from the compromise measure that was revealed by Congress on Friday. The bill, which could be enacted within days, will give the country’s seven largest banks — not including Goldman itself — an average 14% increase in earnings, Goldman found. That’s because of the plan’s big cut in the corporate tax rate — from 35% to 21%. Wells Fargo would make out the best, with an 18% boost, in large part because it derives nearly all of its profits from the United States, Goldman said.” 

The PiPress’ Mary Divine reports: “Former Twin Cities sports-radio personality Jeff Dubay, who has previously run afoul of the law for methamphetamine possession, has pleaded guilty to third-degree assault. …  Dubay, 49, was arrested in August and charged with a felony after he allegedly assaulted a woman in the basement of a Cottage Grove house.”

Weird. Says the AP, “University of Wisconsin police say they’ve arrested a federal agent for taking photos in a women’s restroom at a residence hall. Authorities say the 27-year-old man went into the bathroom at Witte Hall on Friday and put his cell phone under an occupied stall and took pictures. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has confirmed the man is an employee.”