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State lawmakers consider bill requiring stiffer penalties for inmates who assault corrections officers

By |2020-02-19T10:24:49-06:00February 19th, 2020|

A new bill at that State Capitol would require that inmates eligible for parole remain incarcerated for the rest of their sentence if they're convicted of assaulting a Department of Corrections employee. Former Correctional Officer Randy Gust was on the scene at Stillwater prison when his friend Joseph Gomm was killed by an inmate in July 2018. Gust gave emotional testimony today... "That day was just a bad, bad tragic day in the department of corrections like I said, I'm not blaming anybody, but I'm just saying it was a bad, bad tragic day that could've been one of your family, [...]

Bill introduced to clear backlog of untested rape evidence kits

By |2020-02-19T06:20:31-06:00February 19th, 2020|

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants state funding to clear the backlog of untested "rape kits" -- evidence that medical professionals gather from victims of sexual assault which can be used by prosecutors. Republican Representative Marion O'Neill from Maple Lake says it means justice for thousands of women in Minnesota: "We have an issue of serial rapists out among us, and the reason we do is because we're not testing all the kits and connecting all the dots." Democratic Representative Kelly Moller from Shoreview says rape victims who undergo an examination -- often a grueling and difficult process -- deserve [...]

Pro-pot advocates, lawmakers hold rally at State Capitol

By |2020-02-19T06:18:58-06:00February 19th, 2020|

Advocates of legalizing recreational marijuana are calling on lawmakers to take action. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler is a vocal proponent of legalization and says... "It may not happen this year, but it is certainly going to be happening in the future, legalization is not something that Minnesota has a choice about it is something that is happening." Senate Republicans strongly oppose legalizing recreational marijuana. Governor Walz says he wants the state to have the discussion. And he adds that pot prohibition and racial inequities in how the justice system deals with pot-related crimes are not working. Winkler says a legalization [...]

Walz frustrated by more stalemate at legislature over election security issues

By |2020-02-19T05:59:16-06:00February 19th, 2020|

Governor Tim Walz says he cannot understand why the legislature has not claimed seven million dollars in election security funding from Washington D-C -- as G-O-P and D-F-L lawmakers continue their long-standing argument over checking voter eligibility at the polls. Walz says: "We get very little back from the federal government. When we do, we should get it, and the experts are telling us this is what we need to do, so... should be the simplest thing we do." Previous years' debates about requiring photo I-D at the polls have now switched to a related issue. Some Republicans want ballots of [...]

Voter privacy bill making its way through State Capitol

By |2020-02-19T05:42:38-06:00February 19th, 2020|

A bill that would regulate access to certain lists of voter data related to the presidential primary is moving forward at the State Capitol. "Voters have let us know whether through emails, phone calls or other things that their concerned about voting in this presidential national primary if they believe that their data is going to be or get out some way into the public." Representative Raymond Dehn of Minneapolis says his bill is one way to assure Minnesota voters that their information is kept private. The bill would also allow voters to request that their data be excluded from the [...]

Hearing on flavored tobacco ban in MN set for today at State Capitol

By |2020-02-19T05:40:14-06:00February 19th, 2020|

There's a hearing today at the State Capitol (2:30) for a bill that would prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Minnesota. Laura Smith with Minnesotans For a Smoke-free Generation says: "It's a huge step there have already been two states that have passed a policy like this and we think this will go along way to reduce youth tobacco use." Smith says in Minnesota, 67-percent of current high-school tobacco users have reported using a flavored product.

Officials say now is time to buy flood insurance

By |2020-02-19T05:31:02-06:00February 19th, 2020|

State officials are urging Minnesotans in areas where there's any chance of flooding to make sure they have flood insurance.   Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly: "It's important for people to remember: You go buy flood insurance, it has to be in effect for 30 days before you're fully covered... Now is the time for people to buy flood insurance." Kelly says Minnesotans should also make sure their regular homeowner's insurance covers water and sewer backup.

MN Senate leader hints GOP might agree to bonding bill over $1B

By |2020-02-18T07:27:59-06:00February 18th, 2020|

Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is hinting that state Senate Republicans might agree to a bonding bill greater than one billion dollars for state public works projects: "The last two General Obligation Bond bills were both under a billion but the point is, what are the projects that we have in there? And if there's a lot of need for wastewater infrastructure improvement across the whole state, if we put a lot of money in that, my number goes up. If we're looking at roads and bridges, my number goes up." Governor Tim Walz has proposed roughly a two-billion-dollar bonding bill. It's [...]

Lawmakers discuss education problem, skirt controversial constitutional amendment

By |2020-02-18T07:26:24-06:00February 18th, 2020|

A Minnesota Senate committee on Monday reviewed continued problems with overall student test scores plus the "achievement gap" affecting children of color -- but steered clear of a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee all children the right to a quality public education.   Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari said he knows it wasn't the topic of the hearing... ..."but we do think elevating education so that it's a civil right for all Minnesota children would be a way of breaking through." Former Supreme Court Justice Alan Page told lawmakers: "We can't afford, I don't think, to continue to allow [...]

Debate resurfaces at legislature over length of probation sentences in MN

By |2020-02-18T07:24:43-06:00February 18th, 2020|

Debate has resurfaced at the legislature over capping probation sentences at five years for some crimes in Minnesota.   Republicans take issue with the decision by the Sentencing Guidelines Commission and want more say about *who* is on that panel. But Democratic Senator Ron Latz from Saint Louis Park defends the action: "The commission was doing exactly what they were tasked with doing... trying to create more uniformity in sentencing in Minnesota." Lawmakers can override that decision, but Saint Cloud Republican Jerry Relph says: "We shouldn't have to do that if the Guidelines Commission stays within the scope of its authority." [...]