MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Sen. Franken introduces surveillance transparency bill
WASHINGTON D.C. - A bipartisan bill that would increase transparency in government surveillance programs has been introduced by a Minnesota lawmaker.
U.S. Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) says the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 would expand and improve government reporting about programs under the PATRIOT Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that have been the subject of controversy in recent weeks. He says he thinks Americans are naturally suspicious of executive power when things are done secretly, and they tend to think that power is being abused. The bill would require the NSA to disclose to the public how many Americans are subjected to cell phone number and email address collection -- and how much of that data is looked at by government agents.
A Minnesota state House of Representatives committee heard the details of a report today from Minnesota State Lottery concerning internet poker, but committee chair Joe Adkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) repeatedly pointed out that the hearing does not indicate lawmakers are considering legalizing online gambling. The lottery's Donald Feeney looked at other states and countries that have made it legal -- and discovered it's not really a big money-maker in Canada. He says Minnesota would be looking at revenues considerably less than ten-million dollars a year. Lottery Executive Director Ed Van Petten says while it is possible to buy tickets for Minnesota and multi-state games like Gopher 5 and Mega Millions on the lottery's website, there is no plan to expand to online casino-like gaming options.
A pedestrian is dead after being hit by an SUV Tuesday afternoon in Cottage Grove. Police say the 85-year-old man was walking near an intersection when he was struck. He died at the scene. Officers say the driver stopped and is cooperating with the investigation. The victim's name will be released once his family is notified.
A Crystal man was arrested yesterday very shortly after allegedly committing an armed robbery at a Roseville bank. Responding officers saw the suspect get into an illegally parked car 600 feet from the bank just twelve minutes after the robbery. When the suspect was apprehended, he was still wearing a bullet-proof vest that police say he wore during the robbery. Authorities say the 30-year-old suspect later confessed to the robbery. Prosecutors are expected to press charges by the end of the week.
Law enforcement in Minnesota cited nearly 8,300 motorists for not buckling up during the recent "Click It or Ticket" campaign (10/4-19). The 336 participating agencies also issued 341 citations for child passenger safety seat violations. State Traffic Safety Director Donna Berger says the goal with seat belt campaigns is to both educate motorists and passengers and enforce the law in an effort to reinforce safe driving behavior. Minnesota's statewide seat belt use rate is at a record-high 94.8 percent.
Governor Dayton is inviting Minnesota kids to trick-or-treat at the Governor's Residence in St.Paul Thursday night. The gates will be open from 5 to 7pm for Halloween and Dayton will be handing out candy during the 5 o'clock hour. Pearson's Candy has donated 16-hundred bite size Salted Nut Rolls and the Crow River Sustainable Farming Association is donating 400 mini-pumpkins for trick-or-treaters to take home. The governor had hip surgery at Mayo Clinic last week and has been conducting state business from home.