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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Elected officials speak about shutdown ending

Congressional leaders have reached a deal to end the government shutdown. Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson says he was beginning to wonder if an agreement would ever be reached. He says given what has ended up in this deal -- the people that over played their hand and basically shut the government down over Obamacare -- ended up with nothing. Peterson says in the end we ended up with two weeks of pain, uncertainty... people thrown out of work and Congress didn't accomplish anything that we couldn't accomplish two weeks ago. The agreement re-opens the government through January 15th and increases the nations' borrowing authority until February 7th.

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All but one of Minnesota's congressional delegation joined together to vote in favor of the bill ending the partial federal government shutdown and extending the debt ceiling. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was the state's lone "no" vote, as fellow Republicans John Kline and Erik Paulsen joined with Democrats to pass the measure. Bachmann, who is retiring after this term ends, explained her vote on Twitter by saying the bill doesn't address the 17-trillion dollar national debt. U-S Senator Amy Klobuchar says the bi-partisan deal to re-open government and avoid a debt crisis is just a beginning. The Minnesota Democrat says the measure forces Congress to look to the future and puts in place a process for getting an agreement on a longer-term budget.

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A Hennepin County judge has ordered therapy for a nine-year-old boy who stowed away on an MSP flight to Las Vegas, and also counseling for the boy's family. The Star Tribune reports the judge also said the health, safety and welfare of the youth would be endangered if he were to be immediately returned to his mother's custody. Hennepin County officials filed a petition last week indicating the boy has repeatedly run away from home and, prior to the airplane incident, was suspended from school and is believed to have stolen a delivery truck in Minneapolis. The boy's father said last week he asked for help with the boy's behavior problems but was told authorities couldn't get involved unless the child's actions became more serious. 

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A Stearns County Grand Jury has indicted a St. Cloud man on first degree murder charges in the stabbing death of his mother 52-year-old Dean Friese is accused of stabbing 72-year-old Lois Omeara multiple times September 14th at their apartment complex. According to the criminal complaint, Friese pulled the medical alarm in his apartment, knowing his mother would respond. Friese then told investigators he grabbed a large kitchen knife and stabbed her when she entered the apartment Friese also acknowledged to police he had thought about killing his mother. Omeara was pronounced dead at the scene with multiple stab wounds to her chest. Friese remains jailed on three-million dollars bail. 

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A number of consumer issues are on the discussion agenda as the state legislature's Fraud Prevention Working Group meets at the Capitol (10am start). The panel will debate whether MRI and CT facilities should be subject to state Health Department inspections just as x-ray facilities are. Some question whether patients are receiving unnecessary scans that could damage their health or their pocketbooks. The group is also considering whether massage therapists should be licensed, given that the insurance industry is reimbursing policyholders as an expense under medical no-fault. And legislators are looking at the situation where some people use an out-of-state address to lower their auto insurance costs, but actually garage a vehicle in Minnesota. Some say it should be clearly stated in law that it's illegal.

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The federal government shutdown is over, but the state still will *not* be releasing the latest unemployment numbers today, which is what usually happens on the third Thursday of each month. The Department of Employment and Economic Development says they needed federal data to compute the state's jobless figures and it has not been available. It's unclear whether they might be able to compute the September numbers later on. If not, there will be a one-month gap in historical data for Minnesota's unemployment rate.

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The faulty gusset plates that contributed to the 35-W bridge collapse six years ago will become part of the Minnesota Historical Society's collection today. Investigators concluded the gusset plates were only half as thick as necessary to meet design requirements, which ultimately led to the bridge failing. Senior Curator Adam Scher says of all the pieces that were available, these were the ones they deemed most historically significant in telling the story why the bridge collapsed. Scher says there are no immediate plans to display the gusset plates.

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 St. Cloud drivers will be the first in the state to use a new traffic interchange called a "diverging diamond." The interchange is on County Road 120 as it passes over State Highway 15. With the diverging diamond interchange (DDI) design, opposing lanes of traffic criss-cross at traffic signals at the ends of the interchange. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, it's designed to maintain a smooth traffic flow.   

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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