MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: April snowstorm could bring a foot of snow
CHANHASSEN, Minn. -- It's not the news most Minnesotans want to hear, particularly at the end of such a brutal winter season. A winter storm watch is in effect for all but the northwest corner of the state.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen say the powerful storm system will bring "copious amounts" of moisture, and a mix of rain and snow that is expected to arrive in Minnesota tomorrow will turn to all snow by afternoon. Six to 12 inches is expected to fall, with the heaviest amounts across eastern Minnesota. Wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour will create problems for drivers, with visibilities under a quarter mile. Icing and power outages are a concern in southeast Minnesota.
There are plenty of jobs open in Minnesota. The Department of Employment and Economic Development has released its fourth quarter job vacancy report, showing there were over 60-thousand open positions statewide. It's the highest number for that quarter in nine years. Nearly 55-percent of the openings were in the Twin Cities metro area.
Any public beach in Minnesota with a lifeguard must have someone with a minimum level of training -- that under a bill the Minnesota State Senate passed by a strong margin. Elbow Lake Republican Torrey Westrom questioned whether sparcely-populated rural areas will be able to find someone who's certified. Bill sponsor, New Hope DFLer Ann Rest, responded parents need a level of confidence that the lifeguard will be able to take care of their kids if they get into trouble. The bill is named Tony Caine's Law after the six-year-old who drowned in a metro area lake two summers ago. Caine's older brother says the lifeguard didn't do enough to save Tony, but Minneapolis Park Board officials say the two lifeguards on duty followed protocol.
The head of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority feels confident in the state's chances of landing the Super Bowl in 2018. The preliminary bid to host Super Bowl 52 was submitted Tuesday. MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen says she isn't concerned about opposition to additional tax breaks that the NFL is requesting, and received a letter of support from Republican and DFL legislative leaders. A law passed in 1992 when Minnesota last hosted a Super Bowl exempts game tickets from sales taxes.
A second round of tax cuts for Minnesotans is on its way to the state House floor after a key committee approved a bill to give property tax relief to over 90-thousand homesteaded farms, plus increase the homestead and renters credits for one tax year. Small businesses would also get a property tax cut, but Plymouth Republican Sara Anderson calls it "chump change" after the two-billion-dollar tax increase DFLers passed last year. Minneapolis DFLer Jim Davnie responds the bill eliminates statewide commercial/industrial property taxes for small businesses, which will help in the metro area but have a significant positive impact in Greater Minnesota The bill could get a vote in the full Minnesota State House of Representatives as soon as Friday.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle seem to support a bill that would give an income tax credit to volunteers on community fire and ambulance departments across the state. D-F-L Senator Lyle Koenen (COE'-nen) of Clara City introduced the 500-dollar first responders' income tax credit for volunteers that have served for a year or more, and says the state traditionally underspends on emergency first response. Republican Senator David Senjem of Rochester agrees the tax credit is necessary to support such services in greater Minnesota. It would cost the state about 9.5 million dollars a year.
The Office of Minnesota Secretary of State is looking for about 30,000 citizens to serve as election judges and poll workers. Primary elections are August 12th and Election Day is November 4th. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says it's a way to give back to your community and get paid for it. Ritchie says duties include greeting and registering voters, providing ballots, assisting voters, overseeing ballot-counting machines and compiling precinct statistics. More information and election judge applications are available online at mnvotes.org.
The commander of the U.S. Navy's newest and most technologically-advanced submarine, the USS Minnesota, was at the State Capitol Tuesday talking with Governor Dayton and lawmakers. Rochester native, Commanding Officer Brian Tanaka, says the message is that they're grateful and proud for not only support from the Navy League, but also from citizens and the legislature. Chief of Boat Steve Williams says in almost 23 years in the Navy, he's never seen a state support any submarine more than the USS Minnesota.