Minnesota News Briefs: New gun control plan expands background checksMinnesota News
-- A new gun control plan is taking shape which would avoid expanding background checks, and it's a proposal the leaders of both the Minnesota state House and Senate say is more likely to pass than broader gun restrictions that have been discussed.
ST. PAUL - A new gun control plan is taking shape which would avoid expanding background checks, and it's a proposal the leaders of both the Minnesota state House and Senate say is more likely to pass than broader gun restrictions that have been discussed.
The new proposal is expected to be unveiled tomorrow morning by Representative Debra Hilstrom, and it does address some mental health issues and adds more circumstances that would prohibit someone from owning a gun. The Senate version of the bill is still being crafted.
The state House of Representatives voted last night to create a health insurance exchange for Minnesota. It's in answer to a 2010 federal law that calls for the creation of state-level health exchanges where individuals and small businesses can buy coverage beginning in October. Dellwood Republican Matt Dean proposed the health insurance marketplace *not* be implemented unless there's full federal funding. Dean says history shows the federal government not meeting deadlines and dollar commitments, and added his amendment would protect states' rights. Bill sponsor, Democrat Joe Atkins fired back it wouldn't be a good vote for the rights of consumers or small business. Atkins says the point of a health insurance marketplace is to have competition. The House voted down the amendment.
A committee in the DFL-controlled Minnesota Senate debated but will not vote until Wednesday on a controversial bill that would allow home-based child care workers to form a union. Darleen Henry from Rosemount supports it, saying she currently has no say in what happens in her career. But family child care provider Kelly Heaton calls it a scheme to pull more taxpayer money into unions and away from people who need it the most. Governor Dayton tried to order a union election when Republicans controlled the legislature but a judge blocked it. The plan now has much better chances because Democrats have majorities in both the House and Senate.
Minnesota state agencies will no longer be stocking their restrooms with antibacterial soap. Governor Mark Dayton has ordered all state agencies to stop buying products that contain triclosan by June. The order comes on the heels of University of Minnesota research, which found the chemical is showing up in higher levels and with more frequency in the state's rivers and lakes. When it's exposed to sunlight, triclosan can form dioxins that are harmful to humans and the environment.
One of the St. Paul teens accused of gang-raping a 15-year-old in a vacant house in 2011 should be tried as a juvenile and not an adult. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Jim Her, who was 17 at the time, should be tried and sentenced in juvenile court, where the penalties are less severe, because he had no prior record and because he was not involved in the actual rape. Prosecutors are considering their next moves, which could include appealing the decision. Her is among nine members of the True Blood street gang accused in the rape. If he is sentenced as a juvenile on charges of criminal sexual conduct, conspiracy, kidnapping, and other charges he'll face 6 to 18 months in a juvenile facility. If he were sentenced in adult court he would spend about 22 years in prison.
Best Buy has ended a program that allowed for flexible scheduling and for employees to do some of their work from home. The Results Only Work Environment program employees were allowed to work where and when they wanted, as long as they were meeting expectations. Now most corporate employees will be expected to work the traditional 40-hour week. Managers still have discretion to accommodate some workers. Telecommuting shot into the spotlight over the past several days, after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer ended the company’s policy of allowing staff to work from home. Critics say the move hurts working women, but many business experts say employees need to be at work to collaborate with their colleagues in order to be effective.
Although more than one third of Minnesota children are classified as overweight or obese, most of their parents don’t see it. A poll conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that in the eyes of their parents only 15% of children are a little or very overweight. The researchers speculate that it may be because the parents themselves weigh more than they should. It is estimated that 63% of the Minnesota population is overweight.
A seal that escaped from a Duluth zoo during flooding last June has died. Vivian had been living at Como Park Zoo and Conservancy in St. Paul since the flood, and had exploratory surgery to look for the cause of weight loss and lethargy. That came after an earlier surgery two months ago to remove a blockage in the animal's stomach. The second surgery found a high level of scar tissue and other problems, and the seal was euthanized.
State officials release the January employment numbers later this morning In December, Minnesota's unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a point to five-point-five percent as employers added more than nine-thousand jobs. State labor analyst Steve Hine says at that point the jobless rate reached a milestone -- the lowest since August 2008, just before the financial market meltdown. The February economic forecast suggested the state economy continues to recover. Minnesota's December unemployment rate was nearly two-and-a-half points lower than the national jobless rate of 7.9 percent.
A national coalition of medical groups is banning together to identify unnecessary or overused tests and treatments in hospitals. "Choosing Wisely" is made up of over 350,000 doctors and formed by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation. George Morris with CentraCare in St. Cloud says in some cases unnecessary tests are ordered to protect both doctor and patient alike -- what he calls "defensive medicine." Over 90 tests and procedures are being targeted to save money and also reduce possible harm to patients.
Hundreds of advocates from across the country are in Washington D.C. today for the Arthritis Foundation's 15th-annual Advocacy Summit. Jacqueline Punch, the foundation's national ambassador from Saint Paul, says arthritis affects not only adults but children as well. In the U-S, 300-thousand kids are diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. Punch says arthritis is the number-one cause of disability according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.