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Minnesota News Briefs: Emmer the first to announce for Sixth CD seat

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Minnesota News Briefs: Emmer the first to announce for Sixth CD seat
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Former Minnesota State Representative Tom Emmer has officially kicked off his Congressional campaign.

Emmer is seeking the GOP nomination for the Sixth District, which is an open seat after U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann decided not to seek another term in Congress The 52-year-old Emmer, who ran for governor three years ago, is the first Republican to enter the race.

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The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the farm bill now that they are back from recess, and Minnesota U.S. Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) says it goes in a positive direction. Franken says the bill eliminates direct payments to farmers but has a strong crop insurance program to make sure that there's a safety net -- and saves about 24 billion dollars on the debt. The farm bill includes instead a risk management system that supports farmers only when they are hurt by weather disasters or fluctuating commodity prices.

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A major methamphetamine bust in north-central Minnesota. Following a nine-month investigation, several law enforcement agencies executed three search warrants in the Staples area Wednesday. Authorities say six people were arrested -- 42-year-old Thomas Brown, 28-year-old Jennifer Paul, 40-year-old Raymond Weekley, 48-year-old Stewart Weekley, 26-year-old Alexander Miller, and 22-year-old Clinton McNamara. Officials are still looking for three additional people.

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There was no waiting line for same-sex marriage license applications today at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis. Today is the first day gay and lesbian couples in Minnesota can apply to marry under the new Minnesota law which takes effect August 1st. Zeke Rice of Minneapolis says he and his partner are looking forward to legal recognition and its safeguards. Rice says it's something they never thought would happen, and it's been an interesting learning experience to plan a wedding. Rice says he and Alex Schmit have been engaged for about 13 years and hope Mayor R.T. Rybak will officiate their wedding at City Hall. They plan to have a bigger ceremony and reception for family and friends next spring.

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Some of the top artists in country music will be in central Minnesota this weekend. It's the 20th anniversary of the popular Winstock Country Music Festival, and for the first time it's completely sold out -- general admission, VIP tickets, reserved seating and camping passes. Campers start converging on the small town of 24-hundred today. Friday's line up includes Neal McCoy, Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley. Saturday it's Sawyer Brown, Kip Moore and the reigning ACM Entertainer of the year Luke Bryan. The Winstock Country Music Festival is a fundraiser for the Winsted Holy Trinity schools.

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At least two people are dead after a two-vehicle crash in Ham Lake yesterday morning. It happened during rush hour at around 8:15 am. Emergency responders arrived to find one of the vehicles on fire. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

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Two people died when a van left a highway near Staples early Tuesday and launched into trees. 23-year-old Amanda Cowan of Miltona and 33-year-old Daniel Waldron of Fridley died in the crash. Three others, including an eight-year old, were hurt -- but their injuries were not life-threatening. A baby in the van escaped injury. The State Patrol continues to investigate.

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The death of a Georgia woman found in the trunk of a towed car in Minneapolis has been ruled a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. Officials say 24-year-old Klaressa Cook died of unspecified causes. Cook's body was found last month in a car towed from Brooklyn Park to Wrecker Services near downtown Minneapolis. The 24-year-old suspect in Cook's death has also been charged in the death of an 18-year-old Saint Paul woman, whose body was found in the trunk of a car at an impound lot in February.

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Today would have been the 45th birthday of missing TV anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit from Long Prairie, Minnesota. The Saint Cloud State graduate was abducted in the parking lot of her Mason City, Iowa apartment on June 27th, 1995. Huisentruit's producer called when she didn't arrive for work by 4 a.m. and Jodi told her that she had overslept and would be at the TV station shortly. Twenty-seven-year-old Huisentruit was never heard from again. Police found her car, blood, other belongings and evidence of a struggle in the parking lot. Investigators have been following leads for nearly 18 years and the case remains open even though Huisentruit was declared legally dead in 2001.

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Minnesota farmers who've had trouble completing their spring planting because of all of the May showers may soon have an important decision to make. About one-point-two million acres of corn still hasn't been planted, and neither have nearly half the state's soybean acres. USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey says more rain in the forecast will create additional problems. Southeastern Minnesota has been particularly wet, and University of Minnesota experts say if corn isn't planted by June 10th, farmers should give up on it -- while soybean farmers should switch to lower-yielding short-season hybrids after that date.

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Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) led a Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday on her bill that would require carriers to unlock cell phones for consumers. Mobile devices can usually be used only on the carrier they were purchased from, meaning customers unhappy with service have to purchase a new phone if they decide to take their business elsewhere. The Consumers Union says that's an unfair business practice. Steve Largent, President of CTIA-The Wireless Association, responds unlocked phones are available, but aren't typically sold at discounted prices that cell phone carriers offer to hook new customers. The bipartisan legislation known as the Wireless Consumer Choice Act would direct the FCC to ensure that consumers have the right to unlock their phone.

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Minnesota federal employees continue to get furlough notices and some of them will be required to take as many as 11 unpaid days off this summer because of sequestration cuts. Jacqueline Simon with the American Federation of Government Employees says there is still time for Congress to stop the furloughs by giving federal agencies more flexibility in how they spend their money. Simon says the furloughs drop the average Minnesota federal workers income by one-fifth during those weeks, and that means some will be unable to pay their rent, child care expenses, or buy groceries.

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A new report from the American Lung Association shows that women are 37 percent more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than men, and millions have symptoms that have gone undiagnosed. American Lung Association Minnesota spokesman Robert Moffitt says COPD used to be a problem mainly for men, but in recent years that's changed. COPD now is the nation's third leading cause of death, and more than 88-thousand Minnesota woman are currently living with the illness. There's no cure for COPD and it continues to worsen over time.

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Information on state tax increases and other tax changes is available on the Minnesota Department of Revenue's web site starting today. Some changes begin in July, but others not until April of next year. Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans says in addition to listing the dates of tax law changes, there will be updates on the new cigarette/tobacco tax and instructions for taxpayer business registration. The information on new tax laws will be updated each Thursday. You can find it online at revenue.state.mn.us

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Minnesota's five DFL U.S. House members are co-sponsoring legislation aimed at preventing future spikes in gasoline prices. It would require refineries report their maintenance schedules to the U.S. Energy Department. Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan of Duluth says the spike in gas prices at the start of the tourism season has become a ritual, and one excuse that constantly comes up is, a bunch of refineries were shut down. Nolan says "it's not necessarily just a coincidence" He says if refineries won't stagger their maintenance schedules, lawmakers could give the Department of Energy the authority to step in.

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Saint Paul boosters are trying to get some wedding business across the state's eastern border, now that same-sex marriage will be legal in Minnesota beginning August 1st. The group "Visit Saint Paul" is dispatching its mobile visitor center to Milwaukee for this weekend's Pridefest. Visit Saint Paul CEO Karolyn Kirchgesler says it's a chance to get in front of a lot of people and share why Saint Paul is "the perfect destination for a wedding, a long weekend, or a full-fledged vacation."

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is celebrating "National Get Outdoors Day" on Saturday by offering free admission to all state parks and recreation areas. DNR spokeswoman Pat Arndt says they will also have hundreds of free naturalist programs throughout the weekend. To find the perfect park for you and your family, go to the DNR's website and take a virtual tour. Arndt says interactive photos allow viewers to pan right, left, up, and down to see exactly what they would see if they were standing at that very spot in the park.

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A Woodbury woman will spend a year in the Ramsey County workhouse for dropping her developmentally disabled daughter off at an apartment in Roseville, where she was forced to have sex with several men. Prosecutors say 51-year-old Cheryl Tchida continued to leave her daughter at the apartment for 6 weeks, even after the 19-year-old, who has the mental capacity of a kindergartner, told her mother she was being forced to have sex with strange men. Tchida did eventually report the rapes to police, and pled guilty to neglect. The victim became pregnant and gave birth to a special needs child, who was placed in foster care. Tchida asked the judge to allow her to have contact with her daughter, but was denied. Ramsey County District Judge Gary Bastian told her, "That would be the worst thing that could happen to your daughter.

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A 55-year-old Cambridge pastor accused of sexually assaulting a man he was counseling as a former homosexual will spend five months in jail and 10 years on probation. Ryan Muehlhauser is also not allowed to act as a minister, or even church volunteer, and also must undergo sex offender treatment. He pled guilty earlier this year to two counts of criminal sexual conduct. Prosecutors say the victim was one of at least two mentored by Muehlhauser for around five months, in a program the former leader of Lakeside Christian Church called, "How to escape the gay lifestyle," and the pastor told the victim he was "hearing the Lord tell him what to do."

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A mosque in southeastern Minnesota has been vandalized for the second time in two weeks and the third time in a year. A window was broken over the weekend at Owatonna's Muslim Society Center, and while the building is monitored by security cameras, police say they have no leads. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on local authorities to investigate the vandalism as a possible hate crime.

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Broadcast Music, Incorporated, better known as BMI, has filed a lawsuit accusing Whiskey Bones Roadhouse in Rochester and 11 other bars across the country accused of playing unlicensed music. Nightclubs, bars and restaurants pay for BMI music licenses, and the company says it's entitled to $150,000 for every unlicensed song played. The lawsuit accuses the 12 small-town bars of playing their music without paying the licensing fees.

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