MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Government shutdown affects 18,000 Fed employees in state
WASHINGTON D.C. -- The partial federal government shutdown now underway means that many of the 18,000 federal employees that work and live in Minnesota will be furloughed without pay; for the next ten days federal courts will operate as usual but if a compromise isn't reached by then many of them will also be off the job.
Those are just some of the effects that will be felt in Minnesota during the shutdown. Governor Mark Dayton says the situation is deplorable. Essential services and employees, like those that save lives, deliver mail, control airport traffic and safety, and maintain federal prisons will not be furloughed, but they will probably be working without paychecks until a solution is reached.Minnesota U.S. Representatives John Kline (R-Burnsville) and Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) voted along party lines in favor of a bill that included a delay in the Affordable Care Act as part of the federal funding legislation -- a bill that was voted down by Minnesota U.S. Senators Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) and Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) and the rest of the Senate, essentially shutting down the federal government. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) was the only Minnesota lawmaker to break party ranks with her vote. Although many of Minnesota's 18,000 federal employees will either be furloughed or remain on the job without the promise of a paycheck, members of Congress will still get paid. Yesterday Minnesota U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (DFL-Duluth) introduced the "No Government - No Pay Act" of 2013 - which would require lawmakers to work around the clock without pay to resolve future budget crises. He says, "It's time for Congress to start living in the real world - where you either do your job, or you don't get paid."
Minnesota farmers and others in the Midwest are concerned that the Farm Bill has been all but lost within the government shutdown. The current farm bill extension expired at midnight. North Dakota U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp says the attention on the nutrition cuts is part of a long-term strategy by some to eliminate the Farm Bill. Heitkamp says if compromise cuts for nutrition are 10-billion dollars, she doubts the Farm Bill will pass in the House. She believes it could, though, if the Speaker of the House is willing to back off the Hastert Rule, which says the legislation has to be approved by a majority of the majority party.
Rochester police say a weekend shooting outside a popular chain restaurant led to the arrests of three men and a teenager, but nobody was hurt. Investigators were on their way to look into a report of a fight at Perkins when they got word that shots had been fired. Nobody was hit, but officers chased down the car that took off from the scene and pulled it over. After finding bullets on the floor of the car police arrested the suspected shooter Carlos Rivera, Jr., as well as Diego Giron, and a 16-year-old male from Rochester. The 16-year-old was later released to his parents. Armondo Rodriguez was found bloodied in the parking lot from the earlier fight and was also arrested. Investigatros later found a semi-automatic handgun used in the incident in a nearby yard, and believe one of the suspects threw the weapon out of the car's window. 6-10 shots were fired, and several of the rounds hit nearby businesses. Rivera, Giron and Rodriguez are expected to face second-degree riot and assault charges.
The Minnesota National Guard is urging women to do monthly breast self-exams as part of its new "Pink Tank Project". Sergeant Cassie Mecuk is battling breast cancer for the third time and says the theme of the campaign is "we are strong, but not invincible". Mecuk says mammograms and early detection can be lifesavers. The Guard is posting personal stories and awareness messages on the Pink Tank Project website and Facebook page during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Closing arguments are scheduled this morning in the murder trial of Jeffrey Trevino in St.Paul. The prosecution rested its case Monday and the defense decided not to call Trevino or any other witnesses to the stand. Thirty-nine-year-old Trevino is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his wife, 30-year-old Kira Steger She went missing in late February and her body was discovered in the Mississippi River on May 8th. Trevino was arrested after large amounts of Kira's blood were found in the couple's St. Paul home. The defense contends the evidence in the case is circumstantial.
Due to an improving state budget picture, Minnesota schools will be getting $636 million from the state to re-pay part of the aid payments that lawmakers delayed earlier to help balance the budget. Senate Republican Minority Leader David Hann says that additional revenue is there because Republicans exercised restraint in their 2011 budget. But Hann says the future is uncertain, given Democrats' excessive spending plans and tax increases. Governor Dayton responds Republicans can share in the credit for the school payback -- but he says it's ironic that some people who are now trying to claim credit, a year ago were blasting the Obama economy.
A man is dead after his car collided with a semi near Dassel this (mon) morning. The Meeker County Sheriff's Department says just after 7 a.m. a semi pulling an empty flatbed trailer was traveling eastbound on Highway 12 and collided with a westbound Volkswagen driven by 23-year-old Kristofor Tanner of Dassel. The semi driver, 50-year-old Bruce Resch of Royalton, was not hurt. The crash caused the highway to be closed for about an hour or so, and the State Patrol continues its investigation.
Members of the Minnesota Senate's bonding committee will hear pitches from dozens of communities as they kick off their nine-week-long tour today. They begin in northeast Minnesota, and Chairman Leroy Stumpf says at major stops like Duluth, they'll have people from other communities come to a central location to present their projects. The first stop is the state correctional facility at Moose Lake. Over the next few days the bonding committee will also visit Ely, Tower, Grand Rapids, Staples, Saint Cloud and other communities.
Students at Most Holy Redeemer School in the southern Minnesota community of Montgomery wore blue and took part in a special Mass yesterday to remember Mary Urtuzuastegui. She was killed Friday night returning home from a football game when the SUV her stepfather was driving crossed the center line and hit an oncoming car. 51-year-old Condon Hulgan was also killed, as were two occupants of the other car -- 22-year-old Jeffrey Miller and 24-year-old Travis Reak. Twenty-four-year-old Mark Miller survived the crash. The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the cause.
Authorities in Bemidji are requesting the public's help identifying a suspect in a frat party stabbing that left one man hospitalized. Sheriff's deputies intercepted a vehicle early Sunday that was transporting 18-year-old Jace Ugrich of Bovey to Sanford Hospital. Investigators learned Ugrich was trying to intervene in a brawl between two men at the party when an unknown suspect stabbed him in the back. Anyone with information should contact Beltrami County dispatch.
A woman is recovering she was shot in her car early this morning in Columbia Heights. Police say the victim and a 42-year-old New Brighton man were sitting in a vehicle when two men approached just after 2 a.m. and began firing handguns into the car. The woman's wounds are not thought to be life-threatening. The suspects initially fled on foot, but a white car was seen speeding out of the area after the shooting.
The prosecution will rest its case today in the trial of Jeffrey Trevino, who's charged with killing his wife Kira Steger. Retired Saint Paul police Sergeant John Wright interviewed Trevino for four hours after Steger went missing in February, and the defense will cross-examine him this morning before bringing in a short list of witnesses. Defense lawyer John Conard must tell the judge today whether Trevino plans to take the stand in his own defense. Media reports say he probably will not testify, because it would make him answer questions about key pieces of evidence presented in the two-week-old trial. Jury deliberations could begin as early as tomorrow .
The American Red Cross office in New Ulm is closing its doors this week. The Brown-West Nicollet-Redwood-Renville Chapter is being consolidated into the South Central Minnesota Chapter. Executive Director Bob Meyer says the consolidation will not affect local Red Cross services. He says they will still be in the community providing health and safety, first aid and CPR training -- as well as disaster training and response, blood and emergency services. Meyer says the move is intended to streamline operations and make the best use of Red Cross donor dollars.
Researchers in northern Minnesota believe another one of their radio-collared bears has died. Biologists Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield of Ely posted a story on the Wildlife Research Institute's website titled "June Killed." It says June stopped sending GPS signals Friday night and the next day they learned her collar was dropped off by a man at the DNR office in Tower. The conservation officer would not confirm whether the bear was shot. Rogers and Mansfield say they have no word on June's cubs Ember and Cole. The DNR discourages hunters from shooting radio-collared bears, but it is not illegal in Minnesota. Another one of the bears they track was killed September 13th.
Horseback riders staged a protest Sunday against a proposed oil pipeline from Superior, Wisconsin to Alberta, Canada. Honor the Earth held the event on Enbridge Energy's right-of-way near Superior, where the company has a refinery. The group's director, Indian activist Winona LaDuke, cites possible environmental damage from the project, like last year's spill in Adams County and 843,000 gallons of oil that spilled into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. Enbridge did not immediately comment on the protest. In 2010, a federal judge in Minneapolis upheld permits for the pipeline. Environmental groups accused the government at the time of not analyzing the effects of the project before granting its permits. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is considering a petition from Enbridge for a "certificate of need" for the pipeline.