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Republicans not impressed by Walz COVID announcement

By |2021-05-07T06:51:35-05:00May 7th, 2021|

Republican leaders say Governor Tim Walz is not relaxing COVID restrictions fast enough and Minnesota should fully re-open immediately.  The governor responds: "The politics of COVID has overshadowed a lot.  That's not a time for this today.  Minnesotans have worked hard.  They deserve to have some joy and look to the future, and my job now is get back in there and continue to finish this thing off and work with them (Republicans) on a budget." Republicans want Walz to relinquish his emergency powers, which would immediately end COVID restrictions.  How much that demand factors into end-of-session budget negotiations remains to [...]

Will legislative leaders meet today’s deadline for state budget “targets”?

By |2021-05-07T06:04:16-05:00May 7th, 2021|

With just over one week remaining in the legislative session, Republican and Democratic leaders have set today (Fri) as their deadline to agree on dollar amounts for major budget categories -- but whether they can do it remains to be seen.  Senate G-O-P Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says Democrats need to put federal stimulus money on the table in negotiations: "If there's not offers using federal stimulus money -- that's the 2.6 billion dollars of extra money that we could use in many of our budget categories -- it will be more difficult to get done." At least as big a [...]

State could make COVID vaccine available to 12- to 15-year-olds soon

By |2021-05-07T06:02:18-05:00May 7th, 2021|

As Minnesota aims to vaccinate 70 percent of those age 16 and over, state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says it will be a while before vaccinations are available for very young children, however -- "Pfizer authorization for vaccinating 12 years of age and up is expected to come even next week." Malcolm says the state is working to be ready as vaccine expansion opens to new populations.

Republicans to drop mask requirement on MN Senate floor, contrary to Walz mandate

By |2021-05-07T05:55:04-05:00May 7th, 2021|

Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says it's time to drop Governor Tim Walz's mask mandate, and told fellow lawmakers next week the Senate will lead: "We are gonna allow everybody to be back on the Senate floor in your normal seat, if you want to.  So we're not gonna require it, but if you want to you may, and masks will be optional." Senate Democratic Minority Leader Susan Kent says she's "very disappointed that... Gazelka decided to prematurely lift the safety protocols on the Senate floor before the new guidelines go into effect for all Minnesotans."  Kent says, "The Senate should [...]

Sec of State Simon supports “For the People” voting act

By |2021-05-07T05:48:13-05:00May 7th, 2021|

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is among several election officials calling on the U-S Senate to pass legislation that would block voter suppression attempts across the country. The "For the People Act" aims to get dark money out of politics, crackdown on corruption, protect voting rights and ensure elections are safe, accessible and accurate. "In Minnesota, the For the People Act would further increase access to voting and prevent our state from enacting voter suppression laws in the future it would also provide for secure, accessible drop boxes for absentee ballot returns." Simon says it would also prevent long wait [...]

MN semi driver leads Iowa State Patrol on high speed chase

By |2021-05-06T06:38:31-05:00May 6th, 2021|

A Minnesota semi-truck driver was arrested after leading Iowa State Troopers on a high speed chase through West Central Iowa this morning.  Iowa State Patrol Trooper Ryan Devault said the chase began on Interstate 80 in Adair County. "The semi driver took an evasive action around our trooper then continued on to the interstate at a higher rate of speed than the trooper originally had him at. It became apparent at that point and time the driver was trying to elude law enforcement." The chase reached speeds of 90 miles an hour at times and ended some 40 miles away near [...]

Walz to announce loosened COVID restrictions

By |2021-05-06T06:37:20-05:00May 6th, 2021|

"Governor, you need to give us a chance.  We really need to be given a chance to open up our places to capacity." ...says Tony Chesak with the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, as Governor Tim Walz prepares to announce (noon) that he's relaxing COVID restrictions.  It's likely that Walz will schedule re-opening in phases based on vaccination progress, with Minnesota totally open sometime this summer -- some speculate by the 4th of July.  But it's also likely the governor will keep the peacetime emergency declaration in place so Minnesota can continue receiving federal funds for vaccination sites -- and in case [...]

Former U-S Attorney for MN on Chauvin defense request for retrial

By |2021-05-06T06:36:21-05:00May 6th, 2021|

Former U-S Attorney for Minnesota Tom Heffelfinger says the defense's request for Derek Chauvin to get a new trial is not surprising. "I don't know whether they will succeed in reversing the case, and I don't know that they will succeed at this time, but I do think individually and cumulatively these are motions that are based on fact." Attorney Eric Nelson cited prosecutorial and judicial misconduct as two of the reasons for the request. Nelson is also requesting a hearing to impeach the verdict based "on the grounds that the jury committed misconduct."  Chauvin was convicted last month on three [...]

Influential Republican says recreational marijuana bill has better chance of passing due to tax relief measure

By |2021-05-06T06:35:20-05:00May 6th, 2021|

An influential Republican says a measure he put on a House bill to legalize recreational marijuana increases the possibility of it being signed into law this year.   It requires all extra tax revenue from legalized cannabis sales go into a tax relief account, and Farmington Representative Pat Garofalo says: "It's a really strong movement in a direction that I think conservatives like -- that we're not really interested in seeing marijuana legalized for the purposes of growing government and spending more money." -- but instead lowering taxes.  Garofalo says if they continue to improve the bill there could be a strong [...]

Lawmakers considering $20 penalty for missed drivers license test appointments

By |2021-05-06T06:17:23-05:00May 6th, 2021|

Those seeking drivers licenses who don't show up for their knowledge- or road-test appointments would be charged a 20-dollar penalty -- Minnesota House and Senate negotiators gave thumbs-up Wednesday for inclusion in a state budget bill.  Waseca Republican John Petersburg: "I'm aware of people that have done multiple appointments in different stations around the area and then, when it came to that day, picked the one they wanted and left the others kinda hanging." But Mankato Democrat Luke Frederick contends the state should cut some slack to those with legitimate reasons for not keeping their road-test or knowledge-test appointments.   Officials estimate [...]

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