Minnesota State News Briefs: SSM legalization bill introduced in legislatureMinnesota News
-- State Senator Scott Dibble and Representative Karen Clark have introduced a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
(St. Paul, MN) -- State Senator Scott Dibble and Representative Karen Clark have introduced a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
Dibble and Clark were joined by several families headed by same-sex partners. There's a clear split in the Republican Party over the same-sex marriage issue. In a statement Andover Senator Branden Peterson says he's proud to be co-author -- but some Republicans are highly critical of Peterson for backing a bill they warn threatens the solidity of families and children's well-being.
A Minnesota House panel heard testimony today on a proposal to raise the state's minimum wage. Jessica English is a single mother of four, who works a minimum wage job and goes to college She says after a decade of juggling bills and borrowing money from her friends, she is now homeless and has no time to spend with her kids. Some object to any increase in the minimum wage, arguing that it will destroy jobs for people who most need them and force some businesses to close their doors. Minnesota's minimum wage has been at $6.15 an hour since 2005. Competing bills would raise the state's minimum wage by a dollar or two -- or automatically link it to inflation.
Mayors and other leaders from the Twin Cities metro are supporting Governor Dayton's proposal to increase and improve transit across the region. Dayton's budget includes a 20-year plan to fund improvements and additions in bus service, light rail, and streetcar lines. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says you can't grow a region if you're stuck in gridlock, you can grow a region if you invest in transportation that moves people. Funding for the expansion would come from a quarter-cent regional sales tax, meaning mainly those able to take advantage of the service would fund it.
Around two-thousand security officers are on a one-day strike in the Twin Cities today. Members of SEIU Local 26 failed to reach a contract agreement with contractors that provide security to Wells Fargo, Target, U.S. Bank and other corporations in the metro. However, a last-minute tentative agreement was reached overnight with one contractor--American Security--following an emergency negotiating session. The workers have been without a contract since December.
A southern Minnesota dairy farmer is in trouble with the law again for allegedly selling unpasteurized milk. Fifty-nine-year-old Michael Hartmann of rural Gibbon is charged with selling raw milk products, improper food labeling and selling food without a license. State investigators say they found 300 gallons of bottled, unpasteurized milk during a search of his farm last month. Health officials linked more than a dozen illnesses to Hartmann's products in 2010 and he eventually pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanors Prosecutors say the new charges violate his plea agreement and probation.
A northern Minnesota six-year-old walked home alone in freezing temperatures last week after a bus driver let him out a quarter-mile from home as punishment "for not following directions." Amber Thayer says the driver physically restrained her son Darrion, shut the door, and drove off before letting the boy off the bus down the road. Bemidji School Superintendent Jim Hess says the probationary school bus driver resigned after the district began an investigation. Darrion is a special needs student, and he was wearing a coat but didn’t have mittens or boots. It happened on February 20, which was among the year’s coldest days. The National Weather Service says the air temperature that afternoon was about 10 degrees, with a 5 m.p.h. wind and a wind chill of around one degree.
Fewer children and teens are being jailed in Minnesota and nationwide, but at the same time the juvenile crime rate dropped sharply. A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says the nation and the state are moving in the right direction, but still have a long way to go. For most youthful offenders, Beth Rosenberg of the Children's Action Alliance says counseling or community service are much better alternatives. The report recommends only jailing juveniles who pose a threat to public safety, and suggests smaller treatment-oriented facilities for those who have to be locked up. There has been a 30 percent drop in the number of Minnesota teens sentenced to time behind bars.
A new study shows that Minnesota bullies and their victims could suffer from mental health problems for decades after the bullying took place, with higher risk for suicide, anxiety, and panic disorders. Child psychologist Rochelle Harris says some parents don't realize how much harm bullying can do to a child, and sometimes their response to that child is not helpful. The study also found that bullies were much more likely to develop antisocial personality disorders as adults and had a high risk of suicide.
Fairmont ethanol producer Biofuel Energy Corp laid off most of it's work force last week, after shutting down ethanol production in September because of the drought, and company officials say they won't restart until after the 2013 corn harvest is in. USDA economist Joe Glauber says that's an effect of the drought, and he expects production to be flat for several more years. Five billion bushels of corn were used for ethanol last year and the year before, but this year corn for ethanol is only expected to be around 4.6 billion bushels. Demand for ethanol is down, as gasoline use is also declining. That's due to high gas prices, the recession, and more fuel efficient vehicles.
Recent data shows walleye numbers in Mille Lacs Lake could be at a 40 year low. This has prompted DNR officials to meet with area residents and business owners near Garrison today to discuss what cuts need to be made to this year's walleye harvest. State and tribal officials agreed last month to slash the maximum catch in half due to the large drop in walleye numbers.