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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Nazi party organizer issues apology

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The man who organized a party with a Nazi theme at a Minneapolis restaurant is apologizing. Scott Steban has played German soldiers in several movies and explained that the party was done for period actors with a hobby of dressing in World War Two garb. The event was hosted by Gasthof's on Martin Luther King Day, which Steban explained was only chosen because the restaurant was closed that day. A staff member took photos and posted them online, resulting in an Internet backlash against both the restaurant and Steban.

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A New Prague woman is dead after a crash Tuesday night in Carver County. Eighteen-year-old Mickenzy Segler lost control of her vehicle and slid sideways into the northbound lane. Thirty-two-year-old Robert MacDonald of Carver was driving a truck and tried to move out of the way, but hit the passenger side of Segler's car. Segler died at the hospital and MacDonald sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The State Patrol says roads were icy at the time of the crash.

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 Hennepin County Judge Joseph Klein is working to clear the way for the ten-year-old boy who hopped a flight as a stowaway to Las Vegas to go home soon. Klein issued an order yesterday putting the boy on a waiting list for services, and once those are available he can return to his parents. The child has been living in a residential facility since October, with the judge noting that progress on modifying his behavior has plateaued. Before the stowaway incident, the child had been suspended from school and has a history of running away from home.

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It's the first day of spring, but the weather over the next couple of days won't exactly by spring-like in Minnesota. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen say morning commuters in central and southern Minnesota may encounter patchy, freezing fog this (Thu) morning -- including drivers on I-94, I-35, and I-90. Visibility in those areas could be reduced to a quarter-mile or less, and the road surface may be icy. A wintery mix is expected to move in tonight (Thu), including a chance of light freezing rain or sleet. That weather pattern will stick around tomorrow (Fri), mostly along and north of I-94. In northern Minnesota, snowfall is expected tonight (Thu) and into tomorrow (Fri), with three to five inches of accumulation possible.

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Democrats plan a vote today (late a-m debate start) in the Minnesota Senate on their tax cut plan. It's similar to House Democrats' plan and to that of Governor Dayton: It does away with the "marriage penalty" on state income taxes and repeals three business-to-business sales taxes enacted last year. In addition, the Senate bill would repeal Minnesota's gift tax and change the estate tax. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, propose a permanent half-percent cut to Minnesota's sales tax rate. Minority Leader David Hann (HAN) says the state has an expected budget surplus and the legislature should leave that money in the pockets of Minnesota families. Hann says Republicans will also argue for retroactively repealing the business-to-business sales taxes.

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A key committee (Transportation) in the Minnesota House will likely vote today (Thurs) on a bill to add a new gas tax in Minnesota based on price at the pump rather than just the number of gallons purchased. But legislative leaders and Governor Dayton are cool to the idea of any gas tax increase this year. Darin Broton with the group "Move Minnesota" is among those trying to change minds. He says Minnesota is basically the "Land of 10-Million Potholes" right now and transportation is a huge issue for residents as well as businesses. Analysts say lawmakers don't want to pass a gas tax increase in an election year.

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 A new report titled "Moving Forward America" credits environmental policies in Minnesota for cutting emissions that can lead to global warming. Hanna Terwilliger of Environment Minnesota says the state's renewable electricity standard, energy efficiency and clean car policies are working. She says Minnesota is avoiding over seven-point-two-million metric tons of carbon offset in 2012 -- as much carbon pollution as one-and-a-half million cars produce in a year. Terwilliger says a solar energy standard passed last spring will bring more than 30 times more solar power to the state by 2020.

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