Both sides in the gay marriage debate can find good news in the latest Strib Minnesota Poll. Opponents favoring a constitutional ban enjoy a 33 percent to 25 percent margin over legalizers. They might also celebrate that another third favor keeping the existing statutory ban. However, that latter slice is also OK with the Minnesota Supreme Court deciding. Even though anti-marriage Gov. Pawlenty has appointed a court majority, it’s a ray of hope that 58 percent would accept legalization via legislation or adjudication.
More poll: Independents still oppose marriage equality, and as in many polls, the young and urban are more favorable. The Strib’s website lacks any graphics, which is weird since poll stories usually feature them. Also, Strib pollsters did not ask how people would vote on an amendment, unlike in previous years. That’s probably because Minnesota legislators won’t let voters decide, and Iowa legalized via the courts.
Thin edge of the wedge: The Senate passed a “final wishes” bill 37-24 to allow domestic partners to deal with their beloved’s remains. The PiPress’ Jason Hoppin says opponents see it as a stalking horse for gay marriage, especially since the bill codifies domestic partners in state law. The margin isn’t veto-proof, and Gov. Pawlenty will nix it, saying anyone can currently designate a remains-handler. However, the bill also allows survivors to file wrongful death suits.
A teen suspected of having swine flu never had it at all, her parents say. The St. Cloud Times’ Dave Aeikens profiles the Baumgarten family, who’ve been besieged by journalists and pals after their Mexico-traveling daughter missed school Monday and Tuesday. The family has had to fight the chatter via emails but did yank their kid’s texting privileges because messages encouraged disinformation. Officials haven’t identified the real victim.
More flu: Just minutes ago, the Star Tribune reported that a likely second case of the flu has been identified, this time in Isanti County. The PiPress’ Jeremy Olson notes officials are have tested 100 samples in the wake of the confirmed case, with 50 more to go. Fox9 says the state can do its own H1N1 tests next week. Everyone expects more cases; cough into your sleeve. And AP contends it really is a swine flu virus — sorry, pork producers. Remember, you can’t get the virus from eating meat, so enjoy the sales, consumers — KARE’s John Croman pegs pork futures down 15 to 20 percent this week.
Still more flu: MPR’s Elizabeth Baier quotes brave words from organizers of St. Paul’s Cinco de Mayo fest. First gangs, now viruses. The Strib’s Chen May Yee says in-store clinics are marketing themselves as a first line of defense, at least when it comes to data gathering. The Strib’s Steve Alexander says travelers, including Minnesota tourists and employees, can’t leave Mexico until they prove they’re flu-free. KSTP looks at whether homeopathic remedies will work on the virus.
Alleged drunken drivers got a huge gift from the state Supreme Court, the PiPress’ David Hanners notes. The court says prosecutors must turn over breathalyzer source code upon demand; problem is, the maker won’t release the info. Basically, this means law enforcers can only use blood and urine tests in court. Turns out 80 percent of alleged DWIs involve the machine readings. The state has 260 of the suspect devices.
Norm Coleman’s side filed its Supreme Court appeal brief with all the arguments we’ve heard before. The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger notes if the court goes Coleman’s way, the case would go back to the three-judge panel.
The Souter factor: U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Souter’s retirement might affect who ultimately hears the case — and who votes on Souter’s successor — though the Granite Stater says he won’t step down until a replacement is confirmed. Minnesota Independent’s Chris Steller notes Souter was a Bush v. Gore dissenter.
The Minnesota House voted 72-60 to uphold a nuke plan moratorium, the PiPress’ Dennis Lien reports. That puts them at odds with the Senate, though it’s all theoretical at this point because no fission factories are planned. Fourteen Dems went pro-nuke while only one Republican, Jim Abeler, took the anti side. The bill also allows solar to be included with a current 25 percent wind mandate by 2020, and other green provisions.
Related: The PiPress’ Leslie Brooks Suzukamo says Xcel expects electricity consumption to drop 1 percent this year. That’s almost unheard of; demand usually grows 2 percent annually. Meanwhile, MPR’s Mark Steil notes that as of today, all diesel fuel sold in the state must contain 5 percent biodiesel.
Thursday, I made a big hairy deal of Gov. Pawlenty’s record-low 48 percent approval rating in the Strib poll. Today, Smart Politics’ Eric Ostermeier says it’s no big whoop. Pawlenty’s been lower in other polls, Ostermeier argues (the Strib’s claim was limited to itself) and the plus-12 percent favorable margin is right at the historic average of 67 popularity surveys.
More poll: Ostermeier also notes the poll’s ratio of Democrats to Republicans is at an all-time high. That might just reflect reality (look at national surveys). Assuming the party split is accurate, Ostermeier’s take is that Pawlenty is surviving well despite his party’s meltdown.
Via Minnesota Independent’s Paul Schmelzer, a second non-metro daily has called Michele Bachmann an embarrassment. “Bachmann has become the poster child for bizarre politicians,” writes the West Central Tribune’s editorialists. “She also is an embarrassment to both the 6th District and Minnesota.” The St. Cloud Times called out the GOP lightning rod last month.
Remember the big city-clearing fire in St. Charles last month? Legislators have proposed a $1.3 million state appropriation to repay the town and school district, the Rochester Post-Bulletin’s Heather J. Carlson reports. Supporters liken it to flood relief flowing to northwestern Minnesota.
First Minneapolis, now St. Paul will close elementary schools in 2010, the PiPress’ Doug Belden writes. Just to make everyone nervous over the weekend, the district hasn’t announced which three schools, but their names will emerge Tuesday. Like Minneapolis, the district is moving to a “regional choice” model, and this will cover about 10 percent of the district’s $25 million deficit. Twenty percent of students would switch campuses.
Related: The Strib’s Gregory Patterson says the state will get $95 million of stimulus funds to improve low-income kids’ education, and Minneapolis plans to spend $2.2 million on pre-K intervention. More than 200 additional kids will get all-day preschool. Officials estimate 10 to12 percent of children statewide hit kindergarten unprepared for school.
Happy May Day! Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko says local union organizers, emboldened by the Obama administration, are working to organize nine Twin Cities Wal-Marts. They won’t specify how many cards workers have signed to join a union, and given the tough job climate, the company sounds unworried. One analyst says if wages go up $2 an hour, Wal-Mart’s $12 billion in profits vanish.
Never though I’d see the day: Conservatives versus golf, from the Strib’s David Peterson. They oppose the public, subsidized kind.
Gutsy: St. Cloud Times editorialists say, yeah, sure, close the nearby Lindbergh House to help plug a state deficit. Fewer than 10,000 people visit the tourist attraction annually.
The PiPress’ Dominic Papatola notes Jungle Theater founder Bain Boehlke won a $50,000 Distinguished Artist award from the McKnight Foundation. Well-deserved.