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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: State politicians remember Joan Mondale who died Monday

The woman a local lawmaker calls, "A Minnesota treasure," has died at the age of 83. U-S Senator Amy Klobuchar says Joan Mondale was equally at home on a farm in Minnesota and at an ambassador's reception in Japan. The wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale died yesterday afternoon surrounded by her husband, sons and family members. Minnesota D-F-L Chairman Ken Martin says Joan left a great legacy in the arts community. Representative Tim Walz says, "Joan Mondale embodied the best in all of us." Services are Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis.


Target's Chief Financial Officer will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.Officials say the main objective of the hearing is to examine how consumers were affected by the data breach and what they can do to protect themselves against such data intrusions. Target has said the breach of its networks during the busy holiday shopping period resulted in the theft millions of credit and debit card records and other records with customer information such as addresses, e-mails and telephone numbers. Both Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken sit on the judiciary committee and will have their chance to question Target's CFO.


Regular daily air service is returning to the St. Cloud Regional Airport. Local leaders have reached an agreement with United to provide twice-daily flights to-and-from Chicago's O'Hare Airport on Skywest Airlines. Airport Director Bill Towle says the flights will begin on May 6th. The airline has signed a one-year agreement. They'll be flying 50-passenger jets. The announcement comes just over four years after Northwest Airlines' Mesaba flights pulled out of the airport on January 1st, 2010. They had been offering 4-5 daily flights to-and-from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.


Business supply managers in Minnesota remain optimistic about the state's economy. The latest Mid-America Business Conditions Survey put the state's overall economic index for January at 57.7 -- down about a point from December, but about 5 points higher than last January. Last month was the 14th straight month that Minnesota's index has been in the range that predicts future economic growth.


A final vote on a new five-year Farm Bill is set for today (Tues) in the U-S Senate after lawmakers voted Monday afternoon to close debate. Senator Amy Klobuchar urged her colleagues to vote "yes" for the final bill, which transitions from direct agricultural subsidies to crop insurance based on risk. Klobuchar was on the conference committee that negotiated the compromise bill with the Republican-controlled U-S House. The final Farm Bill makes some cuts to the food stamp program, but much smaller than those proposed by the House.


Governor Dayton announces his lieutenant governor running mate this morning (10am) at a campaign rally at the AFL-CIO offices in Saint Paul. Dayton reportedly discussed the possibility with state Senator Katie Sieben, who indicated she wasn't interested. There's speculation that Dayton's choice could be his chief of staff, Tina Smith, or that I-Triple-R-B Commissioner Tony Sertich might be his pick, or possibly state Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. Dayton did say last week that having a female running mate is an important statement of his values and priorities. Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon announced last month she would not seek re-election.


Preliminary numbers indicate Minnesota had no DWI-related traffic deaths on Super Bowl weekend for the sixth-straight year. Donna Berger with the state Traffic Safety Office says the number of D-W-I arrests this past weekend, at 175, is also lower than the five-year average and is going in the right direction. Berger says she hopes everyone makes a safe choice to designate a sober driver and not put others at risk.


This is precinct caucus night (Tues) in Minnesota when the politically-active and politically-curious can get involved in the first step of the 2014 election cycle. Republicans hold a non-binding straw poll to find out who caucus-goers prefer, from a number of possible candidates for governor and U-S Senate. To find the precinct caucus nearest you for the political party of your choice, go to mnvotes-dot-org.