Minnesota News Briefs: State's unemployment rate falls to 5.6 percentMinnesota News
-- The state's unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percent in January to 5.6 percent.
ST. PAUL - The state's unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percent in January to 5.6 percent.
Minnesota employers added 15,500 jobs, bringing year-over-year job gains in the state to 29,000 In just the past two months, the private sector has added more than 27,000 jobs. Professional and business services led all sectors in January adding nearly six-thousand jobs. Job losses were in government followed by leisure and hospitality. The state's unemployment rate remains well below the national average of eight-point-three percent.
State Senator Gary Kubly of Granite Falls is in critical condition at Regions Hospital in St. Paul after suffering a medical emergency Wednesday. The 68-year-old was diagnosed with ALS in 2010. Since the beginning of this legislative session, Kubly has been unable to speak without the help of a type-and-speak iPad program. Kubly served three terms in the Minnesota House from 1996 to 2002 and then was elected to the Senate. Kubly has been able to continue his work at the Capitol with the assistance of his wife, Pat.
While investigating a possible domestic assault northwest of the Twin Cities, Crystal Police were informed of a possible suspicious death of an infant that reportedly occurred several years. Investigators conducted an extensive search of the home Wednesday and it's believed a portion of the backyard will be searched today. A 30-year-old man and 28-year-old woman are being held without bail on suspicion of manslaughter of a fetus.
During the winter months, blood donations drop significantly. This week's snowstorm resulted in a number of donors not being able to keep their appointments. Sue Gonsior is with the American Red Cross and says if you can, re-schedule your appointment She says all blood types are needed to maintain a sufficient blood supply. To make an appointment, go to red-cross-blood-dot-org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
It is the calm after the storm today across Minnesota, however the National Weather Service says we'll still have to contend with some light snow and freezing drizzle. Totals from the recent storm include 13-and-a-half-inches in Chisago County, and around a foot in Douglas and Morrison counties. Greater amounts fell to the east in portions of Wisconsin.
February in Minnesota might be remembered for two things this year: A wintry blast on its last couple days, but un-winter-like temperatures the rest of the month. Climatologist Pete Boulay says it was probably the warmest February since 2002. International Falls was eight or nine degrees above normal last month -- the highest number in the state. Boulay says February's Leap Day storm pushed the state from below-normal precipitation to above-normal for the month. He says it should help ease drought in parts of the state.
January's unemployment numbers come out later this morning (10am). In December, Minnesota's unemployment rate fell to five-point-seven percent. The state's employers added nearly eight-thousand jobs. Professional and business services led all sectors, followed by government, education and health care. There were job losses in construction, leisure and hospitality, and logging and mining. If the January numbers trend downward today, this will be the fourth consecutive month of declines in the state's jobless numbers.
The Minnesota House last night (WED) passed and sent to Governor Dayton a controversial bill giving crime victims more latitude on when they can legally kill someone in self-defense. St. Paul Democrat Michael Paymar warned what's happened in other states could happen in Minnesota -- a drunk shot and killed because he knocked at the wrong door, or an exchange student shot to death because teens entered the wrong yard. But Good Thunder Republican Tony Cornish says his bill won't prompt anyone to shoot another person, any more than Minnesota's concealed-carry law did. Cornish says there are protections in the bill and he trusts Minnesotans to do the right thing. Analysts predict Governor Dayton will veto the legislation.
Prompted by December's courthouse shootings in Grand Marais, the Minnesota House on a strong vote last night passed a bill increasing penalties on those who assault or murder county attorneys. Rochester DFLer Tina Liebling objected because increased penalties would not apply if a defense attorney was the victim. Liebling says the state should spend money to make courthouses more secure. The House also passed a bill that would allow county attorneys with concealed-carry permits to carry a firearm while on duty -- however judges could still ban weapons in courtrooms.
Investigators are looking for a cause of an explosion which killed a person on Wednesday. The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office says the blast in Blomkest was followed by a fire which destroyed the house on the northeast side of Big Kandiyohi Lake. An unidentified body was then pulled from the rubble.
The wife of convicted auto dealer Denny Hecker has been released from Minneapolis Community Corrections supervision. Christi Rowan was setnenced after being found guilty of lying on her W-2 form and on an auto loan -- and for stealing money from a bank account that belonged to Hecker's bankruptcy estate. Rowan and Hecker, who tied the knot in jail, have been married a year now. Hecker himself isn't due to be released from prison until 2019.
It's a year-and-a-half in prison for a Prior Lake man who used his personal computer and printer to create counterfeit postage meter stamps. Federal prosecutors say 32-year-old Andre Mehilove admitted cranking out the bogus stamps and selling them online and using some himself. Besides prison time, Mehilove must pay 230-thousand dollars to the Postal Service and other victims.
The state's largest food drive gets underway today. Last year, Minnesota FoodShare raised 12-million dollars and pounds of food. The goal this time around is a little different: to raise enough dollars and food to supply 300 food shelves with half of what they need this year. Organizers say that comes out to about the same overall total but the emphasis is on raising dollars more than food.
Here are the winning numbers from the Minnesota State Lottery for Wednesday, February 29th, 2012. The Daily Three: 4-3-6. Northstar Cash: 18-22-25-28-31. Gopher Five: 12-13-25-29-32. Hot Lotto: 11-23-26-27-29 and the Hot Ball was 17. Powerball: 1-4-11-23-26 and the Powerball was 14.