A special working group that will recommend which Minnesota front-line workers receive COVID bonuses began work Wednesday, hearing from those who have worked in high-risk settings during the pandemic. Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner said one night in I-C-U... "I was in that room for 45 minutes, holding this tube together as the COVID germs are flying all over the room, and I'm wearing the same mask as I have now worn for my eighth shift." The group must recommend to lawmakers who should receive bonuses and how much money they'll get. House Democratic Majority Leader Ryan Winkler says with [...]
Democratic State Senator Melisa Franzen of Edina has resigned her post as assistant minority leader as she and other DFL senators call for an outside investigation of sexual harassment claims alleged by a former DFL staffer. "And in this case bringing outside counsel and outside investigation can actually really show what we could've done better and hopefully bring closure and improve upon that same policy that we point to as essentially our floor right? That we have a policy that's our floor, but it shouldn't be limiting to do more to support workers." The staffer alleges repeated harassment by a man [...]
Thirty-two state lawmakers are asking the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to temporarily halt Enbridge's drilling along the Line 3 pipeline route until the state is no longer in drought -- citing reported release of drilling fluid at nine locations under low-water conditions. Democratic Senator Mary Kunesh from New Brighton says Enbridge will claim the material is not harmful or a pollutant... "But, you know, in a fragile environment, ecosystem, we just don't know what those effects are going to be, and so I guess I would say it's better to be safe than sorry." The group of lawmakers is asking the [...]
With start-of-school about a month away and the COVID delta variant surging in some areas, state officials recommend school districts follow C-D-C guidance this fall -- that all students, teachers, staff and visitors wear masks indoors, even if vaccinated. State Education Commissioner Heather Mueller says individual school districts could mandate that masks be worn... "But that would not be something that came from the Department of Health or the Department of Education." C-D-C guidelines also recommend schools maintain three feet minimum between students in classrooms whenever possible -- and everyone age 12 and older, before returning in-person to school should be [...]
An air quality alert for nearly all of Minnesota except the North Shore is in effect through 3 p-m tomorrow (Fri) due to smoke from Ontario wildfires. It's expected the air will be "unhealthy for sensitive groups" -- although less polluted than a week ago when it was "very unhealthy for all" in north-central Minnesota. Pollution Control Agency's David Brown says this batch of smoke will stay around until tomorrow (Fri) afternoon when a brief wind-shift... ..."will carry some of that smoke out of the state, but then again Saturday morning we're expecting the winds (to) shift back from the north [...]
Agricultural operations statewide continue to be impacted by the ongoing, severe drought. Several counties have been included in disaster designations and... "Those designations trigger eligibility for low-interest emergency these loans may help producers recover from production loss." Michelle Page with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages any producers in need of help to contact their local FSA office to get additional details on what benefits they may be eligible for.
Things are kicking into high gear as organizers get ready for the Minnesota State Fair after taking last year off due to COVID-19. On Wednesday, fair officials announced several new attractions, exhibits and vendors for 2021 and spokesperson Danielle Dullinger says... "We're absolutely thrilled first off to even be having the great Minnesota get back together--to us that's the biggest new attraction there is." The fair is set to run this year from August 26th through September 6th.
State officials say at this point they will *not* re-impose mask mandates in any area of Minnesota, despite new C-D-C guidelines that recommend children and even vaccinated people wear masks indoors where COVID is surging due to the delta variant. Fourteen Minnesota counties fall in that category, but state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm indicates it's up to them: "At this point in time, that would be a local governmental decision." But if Governor Tim Walz were to re-declare a COVID emergency, the state could again have that authority -- although such action does not appear imminent as health officials continue tracking [...]
With high temperatures and humidity expected to last through next week, Xcel Energy is offering tips to help kids home for the summer and those working from home find relief from the heat. "We encourage our customers, just some simple things, close your drapes and your blinds during the heat of the day there, make sure that you've got your ceiling fans going to help circulate cool air throughout the home." Xcel's John Marshall says home cooling can account for up to half of a summertime electric bill. He also recommends installing a programmable thermostat that raises the temperature when the [...]
Nearly a 17-percent increase in violent crimes in Minnesota in 2020, says a just-released report from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. There were 185 murders in Minnesota last year, compared to 117 in 2019 -- just shy of a 60-percent increase. It's also the highest-ever number of murders in the state, two more than the previous record from 1995. Reversing a downward trend of several years, arson increased nearly 54 percent. Motor vehicle thefts were up almost 20 percent, the highest number since 2005. Bias crimes were the highest in 15 years. 31 incidents involved officers shooting suspects, six more [...]