Minnesota News Briefs: Lots on legislature's plate as session nears endMinnesota News
-- A new Vikings stadium, business tax relief, and a bonding bill are all in the mix as Republicans try to wrap up the legislative session.
(St. Paul, MN) -- A new Vikings stadium, business tax relief, and a bonding bill are all in the mix as Republicans try to wrap up the legislative session.
Republicans are trying to sell Governor Dayton on business property tax relief using Dayton's desire for a new Vikings stadium as leverage. At the same time, Democrats and Dayton are pushing Republicans to agree to a larger bonding bill for state public works projects. According to a key Senate strategist this afternoon's hearing on the stadium bill is to demonstrate to the governor that they are ready to move on the Vikings package, presumably if he will agree to business tax relief.
Republicans leaders are still trying to finish the session Monday but it's looking less likely. The Vikings stadium bill has been at least temporarily put on hold, while Republicans apparently try to use it as a lever to get Governor Dayton to agree to business property tax reductions. Carleton College analyst Steven Schier points out the constitutional deadline for the legislature to adjourn is not until May 21st and it's not unusual for these sorts of negotiations to stretch on and on and on, until you get near the actual chronological limit of the session in state law. Schier says this could happen next Monday, but there's a lot of precedent for this going on for more days and even weeks. Also in the negotiating mix is a bonding bill for state public works projects, but whether that happens is still up in the air.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is stopping short of endorsing GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Bachmann says she will endorse the former Massachusetts governor, just not yet. Bachmann quoted a line from the 'Wizard of Oz' -- "all in good time my pretty. It will happen." The Congresswoman, herself a former Republican presidential candidate says she's working behind the scenes to build support for Romney.
The fifth wave of soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division are scheduled to return to Minnesota today. More than 250 soldiers will be greeted by family and friends at the Anoka Armory, Brainerd Armory, St. Cloud River's Edge Convention Center, Bloomington Armory, and East St. Paul Armory.
Today is Day Five of the Amy Senser trial. The wife of former Viking Joe Senser is charged with criminal vehicular homicide for allegedly hitting and killing a man as he was pouring gas into his stalled car. On the stand Thursday, Joe Senser testified that his wife has never lied to him in their 22-years of marriage. Prosecutors then asked Senser whether he had ever caught his wife in an inappropriate relationship with another man, to which he replied no Also taking the stand Sensers' 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, who said she had never asked her mother what she was doing the night of the crash. Senser failed to pick up Hannah and a friend after a concert in St. Paul. Senser is on trial on charges that she ran down 38-year-old Anousone Phanthavong last August. She has admitted being behind the wheel but claims she didn't know she hit someone.
Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis is hoping the U.S. House will take up the postal reform legislation that passed in the Senate. That bill would put a two-year moratorium on rural post office closings and save the U.S. Postal Service 15-billion dollars. Franken says he's optimistic most GOP representatives will support the Senate version because many House Republicans represent rural areas. Franken says the 117 rural post offices and five processing centers slated to close in Minnesota are very important to their communities and local businesses. The postmaster general could move forward with the closings if Congress fails to act by May 15th.
The 2012 Tax Cut Rally will be going on at the state Capitol Saturday as lawmakers try to agree on public subsidies for a new Vikings stadium. Taxpayers League of Minnesota President Phil Krinkie jokes that he warned legislators a crowd of stadium opponents will be right outside. He says five-thousand people looking to have less goverment and lower taxes while those inside work on more government and higher taxes might not be a good mix. Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain will give a speech on his economic plan to bring prosperity back to America. The three GOP candidates challenging Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) are also scheduled to speak.
Former Fargo police officer and Moorhead city councilman Greg Lemke has been charged in connection with a road rage incident. Lemke was cited for careless driving following a February car crash in south Moorhead. A police report says a woman was attempting to pass Lemke in the center turn lane, but Lemke sped up and the cars collided. Lemke admitted speeding up and giving the woman the middle finger, but he told police that she intentionally turned into him. Lemke's attorney, Cash Aaland, says he doesn't want to try the case in the media, but Aaland says he is confident that Lemke will be acquitted when the facts come out during trial. Lemke is currently public safety director at Minnesota State-Moorhead. His trial is set for May 1st.
Police in Minnesota had no trouble finding distracted drivers during a one-day crackdown last Thursday. Partial results show officers wrote nearly 100 citations for texting while driving. The Public Safety Department's Doug Neville says they looked for a lot of distracted driving because it's a contributing factor in about a quarter of all crashes in Minnesota. He says police stopped more than 2,400 motorists on suspicion of distracted driving - and most of the violations were texting while driving.
For the first time in 20 years, non-tribal anglers will be allowed to hook into walleyes on several lakes on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. Fisheries biologist Pat Brown says there are about 14 smaller reservation lakes that are allowed for non-tribal members to come in and buy a fishing license and fish with a tribal guide. He says the tribe also allows non-tribal members to fish for trout in the winter. Brown stresses that the agreement does *not* apply to the two big lakes on the reservation - Upper and Lower Red Lake. Fishing season opens the second Saturday in May.
State Park naturalists are gearing up for another busy spring and summer. The DNR's Pat Arndt says there are several programs this weekend and most are just an hour to an hour-and-a-half which can get you outdoors with the kids. Arndt says tomorrow at Jay Cooke State Park near Duluth there will be a frogs and toads program. At Sibley State Park near Willmar there will be a bird watching walk. And north of the Twin Cities at Wild River State Park there will be a wildflower hike. A complete list of programs can be found on the DNR's website.
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