Axios Twin Cities

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Good Monday morning. Let's make it a great week.

  • More smoky skies from Canadian wildfires this morning. An air quality alert is in effect statewide until noon. Otherwise, sunny with a high of 71, per the NWS.

🏀 Playoff Awareness: The Timberwolves fell to the Nuggets last night 115-107, tying the series 2-2. Game 5 is at 9:30pm tomorrow at Denver.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Twin Cities member Danette Halloran!

Today's newsletter is 922 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Homeless cliff looms

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Hennepin County officials are warning of a looming "fiscal cliff" for homeless services just a year-and-a-half away.

Why it matters: Federal pandemic relief money has helped the county make long-sought reforms to its emergency response to homelessness, but that money will run out at the end of 2025. New improvements to the shelter system could disappear — unless something changes.

Yes, but: There's still time to find new funding sources.

  • "We're talking about it now, more than 18 months out, because we know our community needs these services," Hennepin County director of housing stability David Hewitt told Axios.

The big picture: Hewitt says the relief money has helped lower shelter barriers and pushed shelter use to an eight-year high, with nearly 86% of the county's homeless population in a shelter.

Threat level: The services most at risk of losing funding are essentially the field hospitals of the broader battle against homelessness: low-barrier, emergency shelter space.

  • When relief money expires, non-profit Avivo would have to close its tiny home village in Minneapolis. It's helped shepherd more than 500 people into permanent housing since 2021.
  • A second low-barrier shelter serving the Native community, Homeward Bound, would also lose funding, Hewitt adds.
  • Without more money, more than 320 beds worth of shelter space currently open 24/7 would revert to being overnight only.

Plus: Relief money has also funded what Hewitt called the county's "biggest priority for reform" in its emergency response: case managers who help unhoused people navigate a complex path to permanent housing.

By the numbers: Since the pandemic's onset, Hennepin County's annual spending on homeless shelters and crisis response grew from $15 million to around $50 million.

  • The federal funds cover a large portion of that increase, including $13 million currently going to shelters.

What's next: A search for new funding — and sustainable solutions.

  • "We just would like to work with every partner that's willing to show up and figure out how we can create a sustainable model," Avivo's John Tribbett told Axios, "So that we can truly consistently address the problem."

2. Trail Mix: ERA and endorsements

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

🗳 The Minnesota state House will vote today on a measure to put a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights on the 2026 ballot.

  • The language is folded into an Equal Rights Amendment that would also cover gender, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Yes, but: As we've reported, majority Democrats in the House and Senate are divided on what the amendment should say and when it should go in front of the voters.

What we're hearing: "We're hopeful, but we're just not there yet," chief author DFL Sen. Mary Kunesh said Thursday when asked whether the House draft has the votes in her chamber.

In other political news...

🗳️ U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar secured the Minnesota DFL Party endorsement over repeat primary challenger Don Samuels over the weekend.

State of play: Samuels, a 75-year-old former Minneapolis city council member, came within two percentage points of ousting Omar in the 2022 primary.

  • Omar crossed the 60% threshold to win the DFL's backing, which unlocks party resources, on the first ballot at this year's convention.

What we're watching: Whether — and when — outside groups start spending ahead of the August primary. Omar has a significant fundraising advantage so far.

🌿 The Minnesota Supreme Court delivered a buzzkill to the Legal Marijuana Now Party on Friday, ruling that it has failed to meet the requirements to keep its major party status.

Why it matters: Candidates running under the party's banner will no longer get a guaranteed spot on the ballot.

Between the lines: Democrats have been concerned about "pot party" candidates being a spoiler in close state and federal races.

  • The DFL Party petitioned the court to demote the Legal Marijuana Now Party after the Legislature enacted new major party eligibility requirements.

What's next: Legal Marijuana Now Party officials say they'll appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, per MPR News.

Read the full column

3. The Spoon: Water water everywhere

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🌊 Members of Bloomington's Sustainability Commission say they have "significant concerns" about how much energy and water a planned water park at the Mall of America will use. (Star Tribune)

  • Backers of the project, which is getting public financing, say they're doing what they can to prioritize sustainability.

🏝 Otter Tail County is weighing more restrictions on vacation rentals, including a limit on how many guests can stay in a home. (MPR News)

🏆 The Gophers women's track and field team won the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championship yesterday. (Sports Illustrated)

4. We tried it: Mandalay Kitchen in St. Paul

Kuay teow reua — or boat noodles — at St. Paul's Mandalay Kitchen. Photo: Kyle Stokes/Axios

There's not much better than slurping down a rich bowl of noodle soup — and after a morning of reporting at the Capitol, St. Paul's Mandalay Kitchen hit the spot.

The latest: The restaurant has been serving Karen, Thai, and Burmese food at 383 University Ave. West in Frogtown for about six months now.

Dig in: I tried the kuay teow reua, or boat noodles ($14.95), featuring flavorful meatballs, beef slices, and greens in a savory and slightly tangy beef broth.

  • The highlight: the thick slices of pork with the crackling, fried rind piled onto the soup.
  • Get the extra beef slices, too.

If you go: I've tried Mandalay's chapli-patty Juicy Lucy, too — a decent burger, but it's the noodles that'll have me coming back.

5. 😍 1 dazzling thing to go

Photos: Courtesy of Chase Davis and via Audrey Kennedy/Axios Twin Cities

Mother Nature put on a great show this weekend, as a powerful solar storm projected colorful auroras into the night sky across the nation.

  • Above, the view from South Minneapolis and farther North in Stacy on Friday night.

😉 Torey's Mother's Day included flowers, lunch at her husband's grandma's house, and, perhaps most importantly, a few hours without her beloved son.

👵 Nick gave his mom one of her favorite things yesterday: time with her granddaughters.

💗 Kyle had his family over yesterday to celebrate the mothers who keep his clan on track.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Patricia Guadalupe.

Whoops: On Friday, we wrote that 1.4 people will get a Minnesota fishing license this year. It should have said 1.4 million!