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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Second hearing today on Medical Marijuana bill

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ST. PAUL -- The second hearing of the 2014 legislative session on a medical marijuana bill is this morning (9am start) at the State Capitol.  What started this end-of-session push was Governor Dayton saying several weeks ago that the legislature has "hidden behind their desks" while he took on the issue, and it's time for them to vote.  But the governor warns some groups pushing for medical marijuana have a different ultimate objective -- namely, legalizing marijuana for general use.  Minnesota NORML board member Brandan Borgos responds people who really are against *medical* marijuana are simply using that for cover.  Senate bill sponsor, Minneapolis Democrat Scott Dibble, says, quote, "we just really need to stick to the debate that's in front of us."

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KSTP television is being sued by Ryan Larson of Long Prairie over the station's broadcast on November 30, 2012 that accused him of killing a police officer during a news report.  Larson was cleared of any involvement in the murder of Cold Spring officer Thomas Decker and filed the lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court.  Court documents indicate that while Larson was taken into custody and questioned, he was never identified as the killer.  The suit alleges that KSTP news anchor Leah McLean said on the air that Larson shot the officer without including the words "accused" or "allegedly." Larson has also taken legal action against WCCO radio and television stemming from the Decker shooting.

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It appears the heaviest of the rain is behind us for now.  Craig Schmidt, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, says while many rivers and streams have swollen, the threat for major flooding remains low.  He says water is filling up farm fields and there's a lot of standing water around which is starting to filter into rivers and raise their levels.  But Schmidt says at this point, nothing is getting up to flood stage.  He says expect a number of rivers to crest in the next week or two

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MN-DOT says it will be able to save 50 million dollars on several construction projects and is redirecting that money to a major project in Greater Minnesota and one in the Twin Cities.  25 million will be used to help rebuild 50 miles of pavement on Interstate 90 in southwest Minnesota.  Officials say the project will start this year and be complete by 2015.  The other 25 million dollars will go for road and bridge repair on Interstate 494 in the northwest metro.

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National accolades for the Faribault-Martin-Jackson Adult Drug Court in southern Minnesota  Coordinator Miranda Rosa says it's been selected as one of only ten national mentor courts in the U-S -- and is the first multi-county drug court to receive such recognition.  Representatives from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals will attend a session next Tuesday (5/6) in Fairmont and present a plaque recognizing its "mentor" status.  Rosa and Judge Bob Walker have been invited to the annual conference next month in Anaheim, California. 

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 A vote is set for today (Tues) in the Minnesota Senate on a bill that would authorize on-line voter registration.  It comes the day after a judge ordered Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to shut down an already-operating website, saying Ritchie lacked statutory authority to create it.  Dan McGrath with Minnesota Majority, one of the groups that sued, says voters can have confidence in the bill that's moving through the legislature -- unlike the system that Ritchie developed behind closed doors.  Secretary of State Ritchie says he respectfully disagrees with the court's decision and looks forward to the legislature making on-line voter registration permanent.  A bill has already passed the Minnesota House.

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With less than three weeks to the Minnesota Legislature's adjournment deadline, the big question around the Capitol is, how soon will the Senate roll out its bonding bill for state buildings and public works projects?  It's the main assigned task of the state legislature in even-numbered years, and not having a Senate proposal this late in the session is unusual and fueling speculation by analysts.  Some suspect that Senate leaders, who want to use some of the state's budget surplus to pay for additional construction projects, are playing a game of brinksmanship -- trying to force concessions from reluctant House Republicans who don't want to spend more, but also want bonding projects to take home to their districts in an election year.  Another possible factor is Democrats' desire for a bigger bonding bill that the 855-million-dollars they and Republicans agreed on last session.

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The search for a woman who may've jumped from the Main Street Bridge in Breckenridge ended yesterday (Monday) afternoon.  Firefighters and Wahpeton-Richland Dive Rescue used boats and infra-red sensors to search the rising water.  The search began after a passerby reported seeing the woman jump.  Police Chief Nate Harder says no sign of the woman was found.

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The Minnesota House has passed a bill that would compensate innocent people who are wrongfully convicted.  Those who spend time in prison would be paid between $50,000 to $100,000 for each year of imprisonment, and Minnesotans who wrongly spend time on supervised release or as a registered sex offender could be paid between $25,000 and $50,000 per year.  The legislation would also compensate them for court costs, lost wages and other financial losses. There is no cap on the compensation, and the Minnesota Supreme Court would appoint a panel to determine the total in each individual case.  There is a similar bill awaiting action in the Minnesota Senate

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 A southeast Minnesota man was injured in a shooting over the weekend, but the details are scarce and police aren't clear on what led to his injuries.  Police in Austin say the 35-year-old man showed up at the hospital with a gunshot wound to his genitals Saturday night.  While the injury wasn't life-threatening, the man was transferred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for further treatment.  Police aren't sure exactly how the man was shot or where the shooting took place.

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Rochester city officials say an investigation into mysterious messages posted on two government websites over the weekend shows that neither site was compromised and no data breach occurred.  The phrase "Hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army" showed up on both the Rochester Government and Rochester Public Library websites, and officials say it happened when a third party doing research on the site was compromised.  Officials took both sites down while they investigated and while the message may have been odd, they say there is no reason for anyone to be concerned.

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Sixth District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's staff will be in Waite Park tomorrow (Wednesday).  You are invited to come and talk to her staff for casework assistance on issues including Veterans Affairs, Medicare, Social Security, IRS, and concerns about federal legislation.  Bachmann's staff will be at the Market Place Building in Waite Park from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  To schedule an appointment contact Bachmann's Anoka office. (763)323-8922)

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  An Anoka woman has been charged in federal court with filing false tax returns and other related charges.  The indictment alleges that Tami May did not file taxes on a business owned by May and her husband Dennis between 1998 and 2005, even though D & T & Son Excavating in Coon Rapids received hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers during that time.  After the IRS notified the May's in 2005 that Dennis owed taxes, penalties, and interest for the 2003 tax year, prosecutors say Tami May made,"obstructive and fraudulent filings with the IRS," including filing zero income tax returns.  Court documents also show that May claimed she and her husband were not U.S. citizens but permanent residents of the 'Kingdom of Heaven."

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