MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Storm relief special session at Capitol today
ST. PAUL -- State lawmakers are back at the Minnesota Capitol this morning (10am) for a one-day special session to approve aid for 18 Minnesota counties hit by storms and flash flooding in June. The federal government will pick up three-quarters of the cost of repairing damaged public infrastructure, with the state paying the rest. That won't change in this special session, but House bill sponsor, Austin Democrat Jeanne Poppe, says one of the questions that's come up is whether the state should continue to pay that full 25-percent match for federal aid. She says about a decade or so ago, it used to be a 15/10 percent split. Any change would probably be an issue for the regular legislative session that begins in February.
A 19-year-old woman is dead after falling out of a sixth-floor window on the U of M campus in Minneapolis on Saturday. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner says Stephanie Lehr died of multiple injuries after the fall from a sixth floor window at Yudof Hall. University of Minnesota campus police continue to investigate, but say the fall appears to be an accident. The screen had apparently been removed from the window and it appears Lehr was trying to climb onto the roof several feet away. She is not a student at the university.
Congress is back in session today (Mon) in Washington D.C., and one of the issues many Minnesotans, especially the state's farmers, are hoping to see action on is the Farm Bill. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says if the House doesn't take action very soon - he sees imminent consequences. Vilsack also says that extending the current Farm Bill is not an adequate fix, because that would not provide disaster assistance and runs the risk of Congress scooping the money from direct payments and not using it to create a stronger safety net for the nation's food producers.
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota is warning people to be aware of scams involving the up-coming Affordable Care Act enrollment. Uninsured individuals will be required to purchase health insurance coverage by March 31st of 2014 or face penalties. The BBB's Dan Hendrickson says they are already seeing scammers targeting the state's seniors with phone calls threatening fines. Affordable Care Act enrollment opens up October 1st.
Minnesota officials are explaining what state tax policies are, after the I-R-S ruled that same-sex married couples will be treated as "married" for federal tax purposes, regardless of where they live. State Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans says what it means for same-sex married couples in Minnesota is Minnesota will treat all married couples the same for tax purposes, including: state filing status being the same as federal filing status, claiming the personal and the dependent exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit. Frans adds employers must handle withholding and the tax treatment of employee and spousal benefits the same for all married couples.