MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Dayton accuses DFL Senate of holding up tax-cut bill
ST. PAUL -- Governor Dayton is ratcheting-up pressure on the legislature to put a tax-cut bill on his desk by the end of this week. Tuesday afternoon, Dayton accused Senate Democrats of holding up the tax-cut bill until the House approves a new Senate Office Building across the street from the Capitol -- calling the situation inexcusable and saying "it's gotta stop." Senate Democratic Majority Leader Tom Bakk responded they plan to have the tax-cut bill on the Senate floor for a vote Thursday, regardless of whether the House approves the new office building. But Bakk re-emphasized that because of State Capitol renovation, the Senate won't have a chamber or hearing rooms during the 2016 session, and that's why a new office building is needed. House Assistant Republican Leader Kelby Woodard said Minnesota taxpayers are the victims of Democrats' intra-party squabbles.
A Hennepin County district judge has awarded a former University of Minnesota coach in a wrongful termination lawsuit. Katie Brenny was awarded a $360-thousand settlement, which is a combination of lost wages and compensation for mental anguish. Brenny filed the sexual-discrimination lawsuit more than three years ago, alleging that the school fired her after learning she is a lesbian. She has moved on from Minnesota and now coaches golf in New York City.
The owner of a northeast Minneapolis restaurant is speaking out about a controversial private party he recently hosted. The owner of the restaurant said the World War Two party was designed for historical actors, which explains the SS uniforms and Nazi flags. The restaurant and its owner took heat in recent days after photos from the party surfaced online.
The Minnesota Trade Office is reporting that exports increased six percent to five-point-four-billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2013. Executive director Kathleen Motzenbecker says a spike in exports to China and Mexico fueled much of the growth and several categories saw increases: medical devices up 21 percent, ores and slag jumped 63 percent and plastics/recycling increased 18 percent -- all in the fourth quarter alone. The state's leading export category was machinery which grew slightly to 937-million dollars. Motzenbecker says Minnesota was one of just 19 states that saw exports grow more than five percent during the fourth quarter.
The Minnesota Poison Control Center saw more than 10 times as many reports of children and teens being poisoned by e-cigarette juice in 2013 compared to 2012. Kirk Hughes, education director for the Hennepin Regional Poison Center, says currently there's no state or federal law requiring manufacturers of e-juice to disclose ingredients. Hughes says e-cigs come in fun flavors like bubble gum, grape and cotton candy, which are even more enticing to children, and they don't have child-resistant packaging. Hughes says many e-cigarette poisonings involve children age six and under.
Preliminary numbers show law enforcement officers in Minnesota made 495 D-W-I arrests over the St. Patrick's Day weekend. There were 420 arrests as of 9 a-m Monday and another 75 through Tuesday morning. The State Office of Traffic Safety expects the arrest count to rise as additional D-W-I information is sent to the agency. Officials say there is no reason to get behind the wheel when you've had too much to drink.
A Lakeville college student who was pulled from a burning house by a roommate early Sunday in North Dakota has died. 21-year-old University of North Dakota student Matt Heisler was not breathing when he was rescued. He was flown to Hennipen County Medical Center in Minneapolis where he died yesterday. His family says his organs are being donated so others can live. The roommate who pulled Heisler from the fire was treated for smoke inhalation and released. Grand Forks fire investigators say the fire was caused by unattended cooking.
Federal officials say they've broken up one of the nation's largest online child exploitation networks, with victims in Minnesota, 38 other states, and six countries. Immigration spokesman Shawn Neudauer in Minneapolis says there were 12 victims each from Minnesota and North Dakota, six in Iowa, two in South Dakota and eight from Wisconsin. The victims were generally in their early-to-mid teens, both girls and boys from all walks of life. Fourteen people were arrested in a nationwide sting operation led by U-S immigration and postal authorities. Authorities said the agents posed online as girls, and they convinced the victims to share sexually-explicit images of themselves. Prosecutors said the websites had over 27-thousand members worldwide, who were producing and distributing child porn. More arrests are expected.
A handful of female D-F-L state lawmakers are backing a package of bills intended to give women greater economic opportunities in Minnesota. The bills included in the Women's Economic Security Act include increasing the minimum wage, expanding access to affordable childcare, paid family and sick leave, increasing protections for victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse, and encouraging female leaders in traditionally male-dominated fields. But Republican State Representative Andrea Kieffer of Woodbury called supporters of the bills, "whiners." Emily Bisek of Alliance for a Better Minnesota says those remarks are out of touch with the realities women face and, "Belong in the Ice Age." The organization is circulating a petition telling Representative Kieffer there is nothing "whiny" about equal pay.
Senator Al Franken continues to be a vocal opponent of a proposed $45-billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner. Franken says big media mergers like this are a step in the wrong direction for consumers. He says the cost of cable has already gone up at a higher rate than people's wages since 1996. Comcast and Time Warner are the number one and two largest cable providers in the U-S. Some analysts say if the merger is approved, Comcast would provide about 40-percent of high-speed internet access to U-S households.
Costs are apparently outweighing sales for the city's green homes project. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports the city's first house of its kind cost the city $25-thousand after it sold for less than it cost to build it. An official running the project for the city told the paper that the project is not cost-effective, particularly in the distressed areas in which the city is looking to build.