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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Senate Farm Bill Vote imminent

WASHINGTON -- The final vote on a new five-year Farm Bill could come as soon as today (Mon) in the U-S Senate. Belgrade farmer John Mages with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association says one of their major goals was to protect crop insurance. He says crop insurance is an important safety net when things go bad. The bill ends direct payments to farmers -- something Senator Al Franken says he didn't hear any real objection to. There are also renewable energy incentives which Franken authored. He says there are some cuts in conservation funding, but on the other hand participation is mandatory if a farmer gets help with crop insurance.


A Good Samaritan on the north side of Minneapolis is dead after an attack that followed a knock on his door for help. Sixty-nine-year-old Thomas Sonnenberg was shot in the head by a man who was at his door Friday afternoon saying someone was trying to kill him. He called 9-1-1 for the stranger, and police arrived as the suspect was attacking Sonnenberg's wife. Twenty-year-old Devon Derrick Parker of Minneapolis is jailed and awaiting formal murder charges.


 Governor Dayton has ordered all state flags be lowered today  in observance of the 71st anniversary of the sinking of the U-S Army transport Dorchester off the coast of Greenland. In 1943, as the transport was sinking, four chaplains of different faiths went soldier to soldier to calm fears and hand out life jackets. When there were no more lifejackets left, the chaplains removed their own and gave them to soldiers in need of protection. Dayton says Immortal Chaplains Day is a good reminder for Minnesotans to express compassion for those of different races and faiths.


 Legislation backed by a Minnesota lawmaker that would help fix the National Flood Insurance program passed the Senate last week. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar cosponsored the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which she says is important to Minnesotans--especially come spring when the Red River often tops its banks and threaten Moorhead, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota. The act would require FEMA to complete a two-year cost study, followed by a two-year timeline to develop a plan to address and issues with high premiums. House lawmakers will take up the legislation next.


 When Minnesota lawmakers return to session next month, among the proposals they'll consider is one to set up a new state-run retirement savings plan, similar to a 401(k). Senator Sandy Pappas says it would be geared toward those who don't have options through work or who can't afford to go with a private account. It's estimated that nearly half of working households in the country have no retirement savings at all, and among those who do, for most it's nowhere near the amount needed to maintain their standard of living in retirement.


 An unannounced explosion Sunday kicked off the demolition of the Metrodome, though it did catch enough people off guard that Minneapolis police received several calls. Roughly a dozen simultaneous blasts disconnected the roof support cables and brought what was left of that part of the structure to the ground. The roof was deflated on January 18th as work is underway to tear down the 31-year-old stadium. It will be replaced with a nearly one-billion dollar stadium in time for the 2016 NFL season.


Precinct caucuses are tomorrow night (Tues) across Minnesota. They're the first step as political parties build their platforms, and caucuses are the first step in choosing delegates to endorsing conventions that later this year will choose candidates for governor, Congress, the Minnesota Legislature and other elected offices. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says all of the parties -- Constitution Party, Libertarian, the Independence, the Greens -- and the large parties -- the Democratic and Republican parties -- have various caucuses at various places and times, and all of that information is one place at 


The wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale is now in hospice care. Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis released a statement on behalf of the family Sunday afternoon with the announcement. Joan Mondale is 83 and entered hospice care on Friday, surrounded by family and loved ones according to the statement. Updates on her condition will be released only by the church.


A 91-year-old Sabin man was killed in a car-train crash near his home yesterday(sun) afternoon. William Briden was a passenger in a car driven by his 83 year-old wife, Gloria. Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist says the car was on its top and the couple was trapped inside when rescue crews arrived. Briden was pronounced dead at the scene and his wife, Gloria had to be extricated from the vehicle She was airlifted to a Fargo hospital. The crash happened less than 50-feet from the couple's driveway. The intersection is marked by signs but doesn't have cross arms.


An 81-year-old Nessel Township man was killed Sunday afternoon after being pinned underneath his tractor. Chisago County Sheriff's officials say the original call came in on a report of a missing man. But before authorities arrived on scene -- another call came in reporting the man was found under a tractor. He was pronounced dead on scene. The name of the victim has not officially been released and the incident is under investigation.


University of Minnesota-Duluth student Alyssa Lommel will continue her rehabilitation at St. Cloud Hospital after spending a month and a half at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Lommel lost several parts of her hands and feet after being severely frostbitten and nearly freezing to death on her neighbor's front porch, after a night of heavy drinking. Her mother posted on the CaringBridge website that Lommel would leave Regions Hospital today, following her family's wishes to have her moved closer to home in St. Cloud. Lommel slept outside in subzero temperatures in December after a night of drinking.


A plan to use drones to deliver beer is being grounded. Lakemaid Beers of Minnesota posted video of a drone delivering a 12-pack a couple of weeks ago on Lake Waconia (wah-KONE-yah). The company's president admits he got the idea from Amazon and was planning to use the drones to make beer runs to popular ice fishing lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin. However, the flights are being postponed after the FAA got involved. The federal agency advised Lakemaid that drones are not cleared for use by small businesses.