News Minute: Here is the latest Minnesota news from The Associat - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

News Minute: Here is the latest Minnesota news from The Associated Press at 9:40 p.m. CST

Updated:

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota Sen. Al Franken says Tina Smith will be an "excellent" U.S. senator in his place. But Franken still isn't setting a date when he'll step down. Franken said last week that he would depart "in coming weeks" after he was accused by several women of improper conduct. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday appointed Smith, his lieutenant governor, to fill fellow Democrat Franken's seat until a special election next November.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The elevation of Minnesota's Republican state Senate president to lieutenant governor as part of a chain reaction after U.S. Sen. Al Franken's resignation will likely lead to a legal fight over whether she can hold two jobs. If Democrats prevail, it would mean Republicans lose their slim majority in the state Senate, at least temporarily. Gov. Mark Dayton's selection of his second-in-command could cause him headaches in Minnesota's Capitol.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - PolyMet is offering Minnesota a $544 million package of financial assurances in connection to a copper-nickel mine it wants to build in northeastern Minnesota. The money would serve as insurance to protect taxpayers from potentially having to cover the costs of shutting down and cleaning up the mine. The company says the package of bonds, letters of credit and a trust fund is sufficient to cover all costs. But critics say such mines have a long track record of environmental damage and costs.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota wildlife experts say they're treating more snowy owls this year. The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota has treated 33 snowy owls so far this year, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Snowy owls feed on lemmings when they're breeding. The owls have a high rate of nesting success when there's a robust population of the small rodents in the Arctic, where a robust food source enables more owlets to survive.

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