"Unprecedented language... to address chronic understaffing in our hospitals for the first time in history," says the Minnesota Nurses Association about tentative contract agreements with 15 hospitals in the Twin Cities and Duluth-Superior, averting a strike that was set to begin December 11th. The nurses union says changes would vary between the different hospitals, but include measures to prevent reductions in staffing levels without consensus between nurses and management... to help protect nurses from discipline when they raise concerns about unsafe assignments... and of review staffing levels by nurses and management if preventable problems such as nurse injuries or patient falls [...]
A group representing communities outside the metro area is pushing the legislature for an increase in state aid (local government aid) to fund police, fire departments, libraries, infrastructure and other local needs. Bradley Peterson with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities: "With the surplus as big as it is, there is absolutely no reason that the state can't make these kind of investments to keep local communities strong." Peterson says preliminary property tax levies are higher, largely driven by inflation. Governor Tim Walz says: "The local property tax issue again, that is a result -- when you're seeing these levy increases [...]
Walz says huge budget surplus means it’s time for investments, Republicans say give it back to taxpayers
Governor Tim Walz says with a 17.6-billion-dollar state budget surplus, now is the time to lower costs for families and update Minnesota's aging infrastructure with the help of federal dollars -- and very important... "Now's the time to make sure that those classrooms are funded with the things that they need to do to make our kids the best-qualified workforce in the world." Fellow Democrats in the Minnesota House are also talking about paid family medical leave, early care and learning programs, plus housing initiatives. But incoming House Republican Minority Leader Lisa Demuth from Cold Spring contends the huge budget surplus [...]
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train returns to Minnesota this weekend after two years of virtual stops during the pandemic. C-P spokesman Andy Cummings says the 14-car freight train is raising money for local food banks with holiday music concerts at each stop: "One of the fun parts of going town to town with the holiday train is seeing how each one is set up. Sometimes, it's the main street in town. We'll drop the stage right on Main Street and sometimes it's few hundred people. Every community brings its own flavor. Sometimes they have fires going that people can gather around [...]
Authorities in Renville County are investigating the death of a person whose body was found in a burned-out car. At around 1 p-m Sunday the sheriff's office got a report of a burned-up vehicle in a drainage ditch in the 81-thousand block of 370th Street about one mile west of Bird Island. Law enforcement located a vehicle that had been fully consumed by fire. Inside they discovered suspected human remains. They will be sent to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office for identification and determination of the cause and manner of death
State regulators today (10am start) consider Xcel Energy's request for an eight-plus percent interim rate increase next year, on the heels of this year's similar increase -- even as Xcel's request for a 21-percent permanent increase over three years remains pending. Brian Edstrom with the nonprofit Citizens Utility Board says consumers are already experiencing a lot of stress paying energy bills: "Inflation generally, as we all know, has been complicated and challenging in recent months, and inflation of energy costs in particular has been challenging." Xcel said in documents filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that inflation is also affecting [...]
Nearly three percent (2.8) of pregnancies have been exposed to opioids -- a startling conclusion in a University of Minnesota study published in the Journal of Women's Health. Lead researcher, U-of-M School of Public Health Associate Professor Ruby Nguyen (WIN), says previous studies focused only on groups at highest risk: "We really wanted a snapshot of what was going on across the country in all populations, not those that are just at highest risk. And that's why this number's particularly startling to us." Nguygen says there's not only risk to the developing baby, but also to the mother who's probably using [...]
The Salvation Army is in need of bell ringers across the state as we head into the final stretch of the Red Kettle Campaign. Spokesman Dan Furry: "I think it's safe to say that when there isn't a bell ringer at a kettle it doesn't collect any donations so there is a direct correlation between the number of bell ringers and what we take in at the red kettle." The Salvation Army reports a spike in the need for their services as inflation sparked a rise in gas prices, rent prices, and the cost of food.
Minnesota Farm Bureau is among many ag organizations looking to support new and beginning farmers. President Dan Glessing says Minnesota provides tax credits to help the next generation. He says some credits encourage land owners to consider selling to beginning farmers: "Now, I fully recognize that those tax credits aren’t going to be substantial if you’re going to give up some of that cost of the per-acre land. But again, anything we can do (helps)." Glessing says it’s important to foster new and alternative avenues to farming that are often more affordable at the onset.
State health officials are hoping the price of medical marijuana products will decline in the new year. Office of Medical Cannabis director Chris Tholkes (THO'-kiss) says sales of raw flower and bud just started in the spring : "I think the manufacturers are still trying to gauge supply and demand, what strains and what products people are interested in seeing. So we are still quite hopeful that the price will come down overall." Tholkes says Minnesota's medical cannabis dispensaries saw a spike in visits when flower and buds became available. Patients were expecting a drop in prices with an expanding market [...]