Minnesota News Briefs: Pine County sheriff will enforce no new gun lawsMinnesota News
-- One Minnesota sheriff says he'll refuse to enforce the Obama administration's proposed new federal regulations on firearms that could lead to the confiscation of guns.
PINE CITY, Minn. -- One Minnesota sheriff says he'll refuse to enforce the Obama administration's proposed new federal regulations on firearms that could lead to the confiscation of guns.
Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole contends that current Minnesota gun laws are strong enough to protect the public, and it's his job to enforce the laws of the state, while at the same time protecting the rights of the people. Cole believes further gun regulation would not only violate the protections of the Second Amendment, but also supersede the rights of sovereign states. Law enforcement officials in Oregon, Texas, and elsewhere have taken similar stances.
A former maintenance worker at a private school in Rochester has been convicted of criminal sexual conduct charges in Olmsted County. Thirty-two-year-old Raul Serna of Elgin is accused of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old Schaeffer Academy student in his vehicle twice last January. Serna was fired the day after the girl reported the allegations. Sentencing is scheduled for March.
Icy roads may have played a role in an early morning crash that killed a Big Lake man. Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott says 39-year-old Steven Baragar was killed when his vehicle left the road and hit a tree. Baragar had apparently passed another car just before losing control. Brott says it was the second fatal accident on the same stretch of road (CR 15) in less than a month.
Lawyers for the University of Minnesota are arguing against a five-thousand dollar payout in a discrimination suit filed by a former golf coach two years ago. Kathryn Brenny sued the U amid claims that former golf director John Harris stripped her of her duties after he discovered she is a lesbian. University officials say Brenny knew the limits of the position when she accepted it. The U-of-M was ordered last month to pay the five-thousand in legal fees for wiping the data from Harris' school-issued cell-phone. The lawyer has argued that there is no proof that the phone contained messages relevant to the case.
The next court appearance for a Little Falls man accused of fatally shooting two teenagers in his home Thanksgiving day has been pushed back to May 6th. 64-year-old Byron Smith was expected in court next Tuesday. In a letter to the judge, Smith's attorney said he needed more time to collect and review evidence in the case and said they are awaiting the results of DNA and toxicology lab tests. Smith, who is out on bond, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady.
An unusual standoff at a truck stop near Albert Lea drew out the bomb squad Tuesday, and sent a 26-year-old man to the Mayo clinic for a mental evaluation. Police say the man, who claimed to be ex-military, told them there were bombs packed in his car. The truck stop and other nearby businesses were evacuated, and the Bloomington Bomb squad arrived three hours later - but found no explosives. Investigators say the man appeared to be living in the sedan.
Hunting and fishing outfitter Cabela's is opening a new store in the east metro in the fall of 2014. The new Woodbury location will employ up to 185 full- and part-time workers. CEO Tommy Millner says Cabela's has had remarkable success in the East Grand Forks, Owatonna and Rogers locations and they expect similar results in Woodbury. Construction on the 85,000-square-foot store is expected to start this fall.
A state Senate committee this morning is debating extending Minnesota's sales tax to clothing and Internet purchases. The sales tax discussion is part of a larger debate over tax increases -- and lawmakers are waiting to see what Governor Dayton proposes when he rolls out his budget plan next Tuesday. Republican Senator Julianne Ortman from Chanhassen worries Dayton will go beyond just tax reform, and propose "more tax increases to pay for more spending." Dayton's revenue commissioner, Myron Frans, responds the governor's budget and revenue package is to address problems and make sure Minnesota is investing in areas that are important to the state.
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler is doing damage control at the state legislature after a Wall Street Journal article questioned how much the "U" spends on highly-paid administrators. Kaler told a state Senate committee Tuesday afternoon that the U-of-M is changing and not happy with the status quo. He says the "U" saved $16.8 million by modernizing purchasing procedures and $5.6 million in energy costs. Kaler adds the University in the past few months closed two major administrative offices and eliminated a senior vice president position, saving $2.2 million dollars. Senate leaders have asked Kaler for a report comparing the U-of-M's administrative expenses to other Big Ten schools.
Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan (DFL-Duluth) is co-sponsoring a bill that would end the war in Afghanistan and bring troops home sooner than the 2014 target date. Nolan says young men and woman will die and be injured as long as combat operations continue. He adds it's time to stop building infrastructure in places like Afghanistan and start rebuilding America. Nolan says no one has to tell Minnesotans that bridges are falling down. The bill would limit war funding to what sponsors call "safe and orderly withdrawal" of all armed forces and military contractors in Afghanistan.
Minnesota scored two "F" grades in the American Lung Association's annual "State of Tobacco Control" report card. The state failed on tobacco prevention and control spending, and on cessation coverage Minnesota spokesman Bob Moffitt says state lawmakers used the multi-million-dollar tobacco settlement to address the budget deficit and basically sold away the rights to the money. Moffit says Minnesota is spending only 37 percent of what the CDC recommends to help people quit smoking. The state earned an "A" for its smoke-free air and a "C" for cigarette taxes.
An advisor that worked on Michele Bachman's failed bid for the White House in 2012 has filed a complaint that alleges finance violations involving her presidential campaign and the independent political action committee she leads. The complaint was filed by Christian conservative Peter Waldron, and comes a week after last week's claims that the Bachmann campaign has refused to pay staffers who refused to sign confidentiality agreements. Waldron is accusing the campaign of using MichelePAC money to pay a fundraising consultant for presidential campaign work in the weeks immediately before Iowa's caucuses.
The fight over same-sex marriage continues to heat up, starting with a fundraiser planned for Wednesday night. Minnesotans United for All Families leader Richard Carlbom is also planning to register as a lobbyist this week. Supporters of legalizing gay marriage are putting the final touches on legislation they plan to introduce in both the House and Senate next month, and legislative leaders say they could go for a vote this spring. The leaders of Minnesota for Marriage believe they can recruit a large number of lawmakers to vote against the bills. For now, though, legislative leaders in both chambers say they remain focused on budget issues.
A Mankato woman has been charged with second-degree assault after allegedly arranging the beating of her husband by two men with aluminum bats. 24-year-old Ashley Stillwell had an argument with her husband Gary Stillwell earlier this month over bills, left the house and returned with two men. According to the criminal complaint, Stillwell was kicked in the face and struck multiple times with a bat in front of his children. After giving several different stories, Stillwell admitted to asking two men to come to her house and give her husband "an attitude adjustment." The two assailants have not yet been identified.