MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Supreme Court say no new trial for priest convicted of sex misconduct
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court has refused a request for a new trial from a Roman Catholic priest convicted of a felony for having a sexual relationship with a female parishioner 10 years ago. Attorneys for the Reverend Christopher Wenthe argued state law violates the First Amendment. But the high court says that specific Minnesota law also covers secular professionals such as physicians and psychologists, making certain sexual relationships a crime because of an imbalance of power between those involved. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says the Supreme Court decision "ensures that police and prosecution can enforce criminal sexual conduct laws against clergy who use their position of authority to sexually prey upon vulnerable victims."
Officials say almost 11-thousand Minnesotans have signed up for health plans using the state's new health insurance exchange, MNsure. Executive director April Todd-Malmlov says they delivered on their promise and even though it isn't perfect, more people are getting onto the website and "progressing through the process." But Republicans say MNsure officials confirmed Wednesday they are unable to transfer applicant information to health plans -- the final step of the enrollment process so that people are actually signed up. Apple Valley Representative Tara Mack says more than a month after MNsure's launch, "not a single Minnesotan has been able to complete enrollment in a health plan through Democrats' new state agency." (Republicans also object to the MNsure board voting to charge a one-and-a-half percent tax to individuals who buy insurance through the state marketplace.)
The nickname of Washington's NFL team is the focus of a protest outside the Metrodome for tonight's (Thurs) Vikings game. Demonstrators say Redskins is a "derogatory and offensive" moniker and should be changed. Congresswoman Betty McCollum says the American Indian Movement organized the protest and she's proud to be part of it. McCollum says opposition to the team's name is growing and owner Daniel Snyder has a real opportunity to step up and change it. Former Vikings Pro Bowl safety Joey Browner is among those taking part in the protest.
Nearly 90 percent of Minnesota school districts that asked in Tuesday's election received voter approval for new school buildings or upgrades. Gregg Abbott with the Minnesota School Boards Association estimates 30- to 40-percent of the districts asked voters to approve those bond referendums because of all-day kindergarten. He says full-day K will be funded by the state next year and districts need space for the kids. Abbott says the other school districts asked voters for money to expand their facilities because they're in areas of the state that are growing, and enrollment is jumping.
The BCA continues to investigate an officer involved shooting which took place two weeks ago in Hutchinson. Investigators say an officer with Hutchinson Police Services responded to a 9-1-1 call of a suspicious person inside an apartment building. The victim suffered one gunshot wound to the abdomen, and BCA agents have been working to get a statement from the injured person. Sergeant Eric Kilian fired the shot and was uninjured. He has been with Hutchinson Police Services for 15 years. Kilian returned to work yesterday following a standard administrative leave. When the investigation is complete the BCA will present its findings to the McLeod County Attorney's Office for review.
Senator Al Franken is growing more frustrated with the troubled federal health care exchange website -- healthcare.gov -- and said exactly that to President Obama during a White House meeting yesterday (Wed). In a statement, the Minnesota Democrat said all 16 senators in the room with the President pressed him to get the website fixed. Franken added Minnesota's health exchange MNsure.org is running more smoothly than the federal site, and he wants to be sure the two will work together as well as possible.
Bids are coming in higher than expected, but the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority believes the new Vikings stadium will be finished by the summer of 2016. Several key details have yet to be finalized, and a deadline for those was missed last week. The "Star Tribune" reports MSFA chairwoman Michele Kelm Helgen admits the process has become "pretty complicated." Ground will be broken later this month.
All 16 U-S senators from the Great Lakes states are demanding that the Army Corps of Engineers help Congress choose a plan to keep the Asian carp away -- saying it's not enough to just spell out alternatives and let Congress pick one. In a letter to the Corps, the senators said the agency needs to work with Congress, congressional staffers, and regional stake-holders to determine the best strategy The letter came a day after scientists found an Asian carp's D-N-A in Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, near Sturgeon Bay. Minnesota's Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar have cosponsored a bill to keep the carp out of Minnesota waters by closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock within a year. The legislation passed both in the House and Senate, as part of the water infrastructure bills, and will go to conference committee for final passage.
For those in the Twin Cities still going to the video store, one less option will be available in about two months. Blockbuster Video will close its roughly 300 remaining stores in the U.S., including four in Minneapolis, Bloomington, West St. Paul and Rosemount. The Blockbuster By Mail service will end next month, while DISH Network will retain the rights to the brand. Blockbuster Home service for DISH customers and Blockbuster On Demand will stick around after the retail stores are shuttered.