Minnesota News Briefs: Legislature approves teacher performance and voter ID bills
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota State Legislature is finishing work on two bills on their agenda today, both a teacher performance measure and one which will put the question of voter ID on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.
A Minnesota House-Senate conference committee has finalized legislation that would allow schools to layoff teachers based on their effectiveness in the classroom. The controversial teacher tenure bill now goes back to the Senate and House for floor votes. Governor Dayton has threatened to veto the measure, saying it undermines public schools and teachers. School districts currently consider teacher seniority when making layoffs. Final votes are expected this week.
A proposal to require Minnesota voters to present photo ID is on the cusp of reaching November's ballot. A House-Senate conference committee signed off Monday night on an agreement that would put the question before voters. The proposed constitutional amendment now heads back to the two chambers where passage is expected -- and with approval -- Governor Dayton would have no authority to block the measure. If voters adopt the amendment, the new photo ID requirement would be effective for elections in the fall of 2013 onward.
A new Mayo Clinic study shows a dramatic rise in skin cancer - especially among Minnesotans under age 40. Dermatologists tracked 256 melanoma patients in Olmsted County from 1970 through 2009. Doctor Jerry Brewer says the major finding was that melanoma increased eight-fold in females between the ages of 18 to 39 and four-fold in young men. Dr. Brewer and other Mayo researchers believe indoor tanning beds are a major factor in the rising cancer rate in young women. He recommends a spray tan for high schoolers looking to get some color for prom this spring.
U.S. Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) has been in southwestern Minnesota meeting with officials about how to keep the state's renewable energy flowing. He says the state doesn't have sources like coal or natural gas, but it has a tremendous amount of renewable energy including wind. Franken also toured an ethanol plant in Luverne which is currently being retrofit to become the world's first commercial isobutanol facility.
St. Cloud-based Coborns Incorporated has formed a partnership with a North Dakota grocery store chain. They are no co-owners with Williston-based J.K. Foods which owns three grocery stores and one floral shop in the cities of Stanley, Tioga, and Williston. Spokeswoman Emily Coborn says all four stores will keep their current names and local management teams. However, all workers will now become Coborn's employees and will be eligible for the Coborn's benefit package. This is the first time Coborn's has formed a partnership with another company. With this new partnership, Coborn's now owns and operates more than 90 stores in six states.
Eight members of a Minnesota family are still hospitalized after a crash on a Kansas highway Sunday which killed five. Eighteen people were in the vehicle at the time and two of the injured remain in critical condition. The Kansas State Patrol is conducting a post-crash inspection on the trailer today (TUES) which was part of the converted vehicle which went off I-35 and into a ravine about 70-miles southwest of Kansas City. Most of the family members were from the Twin Cities area city of Jordan.
A variety of elements go into the latest county health rankings in Minnesota. The latest numbers show numerous counties in southeastern Minnesota to be "more healthy" than most counties in northern and southwestern Minnesota. Steele, Carver and McLeod counties rank at the top of the list. Mahnomen, Cass and Traverse counties are at the bottom. Some of the factors in the research include health behaviors, clinical care, the economy, and physical environment Minnesota Commissioner of Health, Doctor Ed Ehlinger, is not surprised by any of the rankings, since he says "places that have more resources and more committment to community engagement have better health outcomes. Communities that have fewer resources and are more disparate in their population focus on health are doing less well."
The cost of gas is closing in on four-dollars. Minnesota-Gas-Prices-dot-Com reports regular unleaded now averaging just under $3.85 a gallon -- still less than the national average but up a dime in the past week. It also represents the most we've paid at the pump since last May.
Prosecutors have filed murder charges in the strangulation death of a St. Paul woman last October. Investigators say 31-year-old Corey Thomas of St. Paul killed Megan Neely after the two quarreled over use of a phone. Neely was reported missing for three days before her body was found in a crawl space in her St.Paul home. Police say Thomas fled to Florida after Neely's murder but was arrested and returned to Minnesota. He denied killing Neely but prosecutors say they have a DNA match that links him to the crime. Thomas has been in a state prison since November of last year awaiting charges in the Neely case.
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota is warning people of a bogus website bilking timeshare owners out of thousands of dollars. BBB spokesman Dan Hendrickson says off-shore scammers took the identity of a former Minnesota Business that was in operation from 1992 until late last year. It was called Events Etc. Hendrickson says they have received a number of complaints in recent weeks on this bogus company. He says if you believe you are a victim of this scam, contact the Better Business Bureau.
Here are the winning numbers from the Minnesota State Lottery for Monday, April 2nd, 2012. The Dailt Three: 8-8-3. Northstar Cash: 3-6-7-14-31. Gopher Five: 1-9-14-25-31.