IRRRB reform divides Iron Range delegation

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board would see its governance structure change under new reforms currently attached to House Republican legislation. The board, comprised of legislators from the Taconite Tax Relief Area, now oversees IRRRB spending of taconite tax revenue. This is money paid by iron mines in lieu of local property taxes. The… Read More →

Rural identity crisis in Minnesota politics

Minnesota stands at a political crossroads. On one hand, the North Star State remains much the same. A majority Democratic Congressional delegation. High rankings for quality of life that come at the expense of relatively high taxes. High rates of health insurance and educational success. Minnesota seemingly remains a progressive place to live, if you can stand… Read More →

Chinese president’s visit holds Iron Range implications

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Florida today to meet with President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort. This is the first meeting between these leaders of the world’s two largest economies, and the stakes are high. First of all, new nuclear saber-rattling from Chinese ally North Korea threatens the Pacific region. Reports from… Read More →

Truth behind the numbers on mining jobs

Like screeching crows or the rattle of a train yard, Northern Minnesota’s never-ending debate about risks and prospects of new mining eventually fades into the background. You get used to it. It matters, but it doesn’t change. So it’s been interesting to watch a similar debate enter the national discussion. President Trump, during the campaign and… Read More →

38% of U.S. jobs could be lost to automation within 15 years

A diagnostic scan of the economy along Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range turns up several problems, and several causes of those problems. But nothing has contributed to more job losses in the Iron Range economy than the improved technology and automation of the iron mining industry. Those same changes literally saved the industry, while reducing the number of… Read More →

Trump’s tricky American steel promise

What happens when the promise of political change meets the rocky cliffs of reality? Every president, every Congress, every legislature must weather this shift. History shows that all suffer at least some political fallout in the process. There’s a reason incumbent parties tend to lose seats in the midterms, and that presidential approval (usually) starts high… Read More →

Minnesota governor signs Sunday liquor into law

Minnesota’s long Sunday nightmare is over. Today, Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a provision that allows the sale of liquor, wine and beer on Sundays. As I wrote during the legislative debate on this matter, Minnesota has long banned liquor on Sundays as part of an old set of “blue laws.” One part prohibition and one… Read More →

With Sunday liquor vote today, ‘Driving to Superior’

(Listen to “Driving to Superior” from Aaron Brown’s Great Northern Radio Show) “Sunday sales,” one of the perennial issues before the Minnesota legislature, might actually be resolved this year. In Minnesota, it’s illegal to sell off sale liquor or full strength beer on Sundays. You have to go to a bar or stock up one of… Read More →

U.S. Steel CEO invites Trump to Iron Range

On Thursday, U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi invited President Donald Trump to visit the company’s operations on Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. Ron Brochu at Business North reports on the exchange. “What a great company. I love Caterpillar. I’ve been driving ‘em for a long time,” the president said. “Well, come out and see us… Read More →

GOP backs off federal land sale for now

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) withdrew his bill that would have allowed the government to sell federal lands for mining and other commercial use. Some had feared that the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness might find its way on the list of lands that could be mined in the future. The U.S. edition of the Guardian reported… Read More →