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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Now it's the House's turn to debate medical marijuana

ST. PAUL -- Expect a marathon session when the Minnesota House debates and then votes on a medical marijuana bill later today (Fri pm).  Like the bill the Senate passed Tuesday, the House version does not permit *smoking* medical marijuana.  But while the Senate bill would allow up to 55 dispensaries statewide, the House bill as it hits the floor would allow only one state-controlled outlet.  Legislators are trying to find out if law enforcement -- and Governor Dayton -- would go along with more.  At a Tuesday night hearing, Rochester Democrat Tina Liebling asked Dennis Flaherty with the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association if, say, five dispensaries in different areas of the state would be a deal-killer for law enforcement.  Flaherty would only say, "One is our preference."  A proposed amendment or amendments on that issue is likely during today's floor debate.


Minnesotans are reminded to plan for a sober ride as they head out for the fishing opener.  Law enforcement officers will be out in force today in 25 Minnesota counties with the highest number of drunk driving deaths and alcohol-related serious injuries over the past three years.  This is a one-day enhanced enforcement effort designed to keep Minnesotans safe as they head to the lake.  Each year, nearly 28,000 people are arrested for DWI and approximately 35 percent of all traffic deaths are alcohol-related.  One in seven Minnesota drivers has a DWI on record.

Top 25 counties:  (past three years) Hennepin, Anoka, Ramsey, St. Louis, Dakota, Washington, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Stearns, Wright, Itasca, Cass, Beltrami, Sherburne, Meeker, Crow Wing, Pine, Mille Lacs, Rice, Scott, Becker, Aitkin, Carver, Morrison, Blue Earth


An annual survey by Enterprise Minnesota indicates that manufacturers in the state are optimistic about the future of their firms.  C-E-O Bob Kill says 84 percent of executives are confident, which is the highest mark in the six-year history of "The State of Manufacturing".  Kill says 62 percent of executives expect wages to increase in 2014,  a 14-point increase from 2013.  He says the downer in the survey is the continued challenge of finding qualified workers, especially in greater Minnesota.  


The city of Minneapolis is being sued in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota concerning the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.  The ACLU argues the creation of a "clean zone" for 15 days around the All-Star Game is unconstitutional because it limits free speech.  The city is turning over control of the downtown area surrounding Target Field over to MLB from July 5-20.  The ACLU filed suit on behalf of two members of the One Day in July Street Festival Committee who want to commemorate the anniversary of the deaths of two Teamsters at the hands of Minneapolis Police in 1934.


The U-S Postal Service is asking customers to leave a bag of non-perishable food at their mailbox on tomorrow.(Saturday)  Samantha Hartwig is regional coordinator for the 22nd annual "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive  She says  it's the largest one-day food drive in Minnesota and the U-S.  Hartwig says we could collect two-million pounds of food in the state if every Minnesotan donated one canned good.  Last year's event raised 74 million pounds nationwide. 


 It was an active weather day across Minnesota yesterday(thurs).  May storms brought reports of tornadoes, torrential rains, hail and high winds across parts of the state Thursday.  According to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen a funnel cloud reportedly touched down in St. James, Madelia and Lake Crystal, southwest of Minneapolis.  Officials in Gaylord also reported a tornado.  No severe damage was reported in these areas.  A strong storm also tore through the Waseca area bringing with it 80 mile-per-hour winds.  There were a number of reports of downed power lines and car windows being blown out.  Officials say strong winds also ripped a roof off a house near Red Wing.  Two plus inches of rain was also being reported in some areas in central and southern Minnesota.  As for today's forecast, scattered showers, but no severe storms.  


The wife of a New Brighton man accused of shooting his neighbors is now charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and attempted murder.  Prosecutors say 50-year-old Paula Zumberge was arguing with Jennifer Cleven when Neal Zumberge came outside and started shooting at Cleven and Todd Stevens. The criminal complaint says Paula was yelling "shoot, shoot, shoot, keep shooting."  Stevens was killed and Cleven suffered two gunshot wounds to the abdomen.  There had been an on-going dispute between the neighbors that involved the feeding of deer in Cleven and Stevens'sbackyard.  Neal Zumberge admitted to firing his shotgun at Stevens but told investigators he did not intend to hit Cleven.  Paula Zumberge was charged by warrant Thursday afternoon.    


The fishing opener is almost here and tomorrow (sat), thousands of anglers across the state will head to their favorite spots.  Angler and fishing guide Kolt Ringer says he will be utilizing the DNR's new "Fish Minnesota" website.  Ringer says it's a one-stop for all fishing information -- including regulations, slot limits and lake-depth contours.  The "Fish Minnesota" website is at mndnrgov/fishmn and is easy to access from your smartphone.


The U-S Department of Transportation has issued an order requiring railroads notify emergency response agencies when they are transporting large amounts of Bakken crude oil through a state.  The Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will be told any time a train hauling more than one million gallons of Bakken crude oil, or about 35 tank cars, travels through the state.  Most Bakken oil production is occurring in North Dakota and Montana, plus the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.


Former pro wrestler Buck "Rock and Roll" Zumhofe has been sentenced to more than 25 years in prison on 12 counts of criminal sexual conduct.  Prosecutors allege he had sex with his daughter hundreds of times starting when she was 15, while she lived with him in New London from 1999 to 2002.  Sixty-three-year-old Zumhofe will have to spend at least 17 years behind bars before he's eligible for release. Zumhofe has previous convictions in the late '80s and the judge called him "a repeat sex offender and a public danger."  He also faces charges for attempting to escape custody at the courthouse in March.    


A ban on e-cigarettes in all indoor public places in Minnesota remains in a bill the state Senate passed Thursday over some lawmakers' objections.  Cambridge Senator Sean Nienow asked, "Who are we to tell Joe's on Main that they can't let somebody have an electronic cigarette sitting in the bar?"  But Mankato Senator Kathy Sheran says businesses and CEO's are asking lawmakers to address the issue.  Governor Dayton said earlier he has concerns about a statewide ban, but spokesman Matt Swenson says "if a clean bill -- that pertains only to the matter of e-cigarettes -- is passed by the Legislature, the Governor would not veto it."  The House bill restricts minors from using e-cigarettes but does not include a statewide ban on e-cigs in all indoor public places.


Governor Dayton has some political competition for this year's Governor's Fishing Opener.  Republican rival Marty Seifert  is holding his own 2014 Fishing Opener at Thumper Pond Resort and Rush Lake in Otter Tail County today (Fri) and tomorrow.  Seifert is inviting reporters to cover his first catch Saturday morning.  He's one of five major candidates vying for their party's endorsement at the Republican State Convention in Rochester at the end of May.


Voters would decide in 2016 whether the Minnesota Constitution should be changed so that a special council decides state lawmakers' pay, rather than lawmakers voting on it themselves -- that under a bill the Minnesota House passed Thursday afternoon.  Republicans warn voters, Democrats are making sure future legislators get a pay raise even when other parts of the budget remain undecided.  But House Majority Leader Erin Murphy says the fundamental issue is whether or not legislators should be able to raise their own pay -- which Murphy contends is a conflict of interest. 


  The D-N-R is encouraging Minnesotans to check out the wildflowers this weekend at Minnesota State Parks.  The agency's Pat Arndt says it's one of her favorite times of the year, and a great time to get outdoors.  Arndt says some wildflowers will only be around for a week or two, and this weekend they'll likely be at peak bloom around the state.  Arndt says a number of state parks will be offering guided wildflower hikes.  For more information, go to the DNR's website.