MInnesota News Briefs: Sherriff's Association proposes reforms to state gun lawsMinnesota News
-- Representatives from the Minnesota Sheriffs Association and others held a news conference this afternoon to announce proposed reforms to the state’s gun laws.
ST. PAUL -- Representatives from the Minnesota Sheriffs Association and others held a news conference this afternoon to announce proposed reforms to the state’s gun laws.
Among them: strengthening existing gun background checks, providing law enforcement greater access to mental health records and addressing gaps in providing services and resources to Minnesotans who live with untreated mental illness. The proposed reforms have been endorsed by the Minnesota Sheriffs Association.
The baby trapped underwater in an SUV when it fell through the ice on Lake Minnetonka has died. Eight-month-old Tabitha Markle was under water for more than 15 minutes when the family vehicle went through the ice on a channel, and died three days later. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has said the girl's father, Jonathon Markle, may have been drinking but blood alcohol tests aren't in yet. Markle was driving the family of four, including Tabitha, his wife, Amanda, and their 2-year-old daughter, Isabelle, home after they had gone out to dinner. The rest of the family is recovering at home. Sheriff Stanek is warning drivers that Lake Minnetonka is dangers and people should not drive on it. Seven vehicles broke through the ice in the past week.
A felon from Minneapolis has drawn the maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for illegally possesing a firearm. Thirty-four-year-old Bryant Griffin was convicted of carrying a .32 caliber pistol on a Metro Transit bus last March. Griffin has several felony convictions including terroristic threats in Hennepin County and major drug crimes in Stearns and Benton Counties. Federal law prohibits felons from possessing firearms at any time.
Minnesota saw a dramatic drop in pre-foreclosure notices in the fourth quarter of 2012. Ed Nelson with the Minnesota Homeownership Center says just under seven-thousand pre-foreclosure notices went out, 45 percent fewer than the 4th quarter of 2011. That brings the yearly total to about 39-thousand notifications. Nelson says this is the lowest level of pre-foreclosures since state law required mortgage services to provide the notifications in late 2008.
A water main break in Coon Rapids had city crews scrambling to clean up Tuesday night. The break occurred at around 7 pm and caused water to shoot up to 15 feet in the air at times. Several homes in the neighborhood were without water overnight as a result. It was the second water main break in Coon Rapids within 24 hours. Officials say cold weather was likely the cause of the break.
Minnesota is in the middle of the coldest week of the winter so far -- and, in fact, the coldest stretch the state has seen in four years. But weather watchers are still wondering...where's the snow? Meterologist Brad Rippey says they can't find a whole lot of significant snow at this point in the winter. Rippey says Minneapolis and other communities haven't a flake on the ground. Grand Forks, North Dakota has the most in the Midwest -- but only 5 inches, far below normal. Some precipitation is headed for the region this weekend -- either sleet, freezing rain, or snow -- but not a lot of any of it. Some areas in southern Minnesota did receive between one and two inches of fresh snow this morning.
The president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota is blasting Governor Dayton's budget proposal for the next two years. The governor wants to expand the sales tax to services and clothing over 100 dollars and raise the cigarette tax. Phil Krinkie says these regressive taxes will not only affect the wealthy. He says this is a tax increase that's gonna touch everyone no matter what your income. Krinkie called Dayton's proposed $500 property tax rebate "a pittance" while he broadens the sales tax to clothing and services and jacks up personal income tax rates.
Gun owners across the state are having a hard time keeping firearms on their shelves following a federal push to toughen gun laws. Mark Linder of Hammer Drop in Litchfield says the fear that guns will become harder and harder to get -- has increased sales. He is even seeing non gun people per-se coming in purchasing mainly protection guns. Linder says it's also getting more difficult to find inventory. He says the pipelines are empty -- especially for weapons like semi-automatics and smaller pistols.
Even though the NHL lockout is over, the chairman of the Minnesota House Commerce Committee held a hearing at the State Capitol this afternoon on lockouts in general. Inver Grove Heights Democrat Joe Atkins says he's concerned about all sports teams that receive state subsidies. Atkins says there's talk that the Vikings might ask lawmakers for some changes in their stadium agreement -- and indicates if that's the case, then the lockout issue would be part of his discussion with them as well. Ongoing labor disputes at the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra are also on lawmakers' agenda at today's hearing.
Seven teens have now been charged in connection with a large fight last week at North High School in North St. Paul. Two students, ages 14 and 15, face third-degree riot and fifth-degree assault charges. The students were arrested on the morning of January 17th after a fight spread into the school's commons area, sending one injured student to a local hospital.
DFLers at the State Capitol are giving Governor Dayton's budget proposal high marks for creativity, but also hint it could run into trouble. A cornerstone of the governor's plan is broadening the sales tax to include business services and high-priced clothing, while lowering the sales tax *rate* to make it less regressive. But top Democrats apparently aren't sure whether it's politically do-able. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook says it's the right policy but "a pretty steep hill to climb." And House Speaker Paul Thissen of St. Paul says he doesn't know if it will be difficult to convince Minnesotans that Dayton's sales tax plan is the way to go. Meanwhile, Republicans continue saying that the governor isn't just increasing taxes on the top two percent -- but on *all* Minnesotans. Senate Republican Minority Leader David Hann of Eden Prairie people who have a oil change, get a haircut or join a health club will all pay sales tax -- and they're not paying it on those items now.
A Medina man has beaten another drunk driving charge for operating a Segway stand-up scooted with a point-one-nine blood alcohol level. Mark Greenman veered into the road after a night at the bar last February, and was charged with drunk driving after failing field sobriety and breath tests. The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that the Segway does not meet the definition of a motor vehicle under state drunken-driving laws. It was Greenman's third Segway-related victory against the city of Medina. Medina's acting police chief Sgt. Jason Nelson says the next step is to lobby the Legislature to include the Segway into a vehicle classification. He also says officials haven't yet decided whether they'll ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to hear the case.
A suspected car thief led police on a chase that ended on the ice of Rice Lake in Brainerd. Brainerd Police tried to pull over an SUV that had been reporter stolen from a Subway restaurant in Crosby, but the driver sped off. Officers gave up the chase when the suspect drove onto the ice, because Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston says department policy is to avoid driving on frozen lakes unless it's a life-or-death situation. The abandoned vehicle was soon found, and the 19-year-old Motley man suspected of stealing it was also located nearby. He was taken to the Crow Wing County Jail where he is awaiting charges that could include car theft, running from police, and driving on a revoked license.
The state Health Department is encouraging expectant mothers to make healthy lifestyle choices during their pregnancy. Governor Dayton has proclaimed January as Birth Defects Prevention Month. M-D-H spokeswoman Erica Fishman says there are small steps women can take to support a healthy pregnancy, such as taking a multi-vitamin with folic acid every day, seeing their health provider on a regular basis for check-ups -- and she says expectant mothers should also stop smoking and stop drinking alcohol. Fishman says daily consumption of folic acid has been shown to prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine. Birth defects affect more than two-thousand babies in Minnesota each year.