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Now, a bill to prohibit secret videos … of farm animals?

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: No rush for stadium bill, and no fear of legislators running out of time; a scary Huck Finn adventure; again, bad news on home prices; and more.
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When you have to ban someone from filming what you do every day, it kinda says something about what you’re doing, doesn’t it? KARE’s Rena Sargianopoulos files on two bills that have popped up over in St. Paul: “The measures would make it illegal to make audio or video recordings at any animal facility without permission. ‘We think transparency is critical,’ said the Minnesota Director of the National Humane Society, Howard Goldman. Goldman’s organization has long used undercover videos to root out wrong-doings in the agriculture industry. Videos that cover issues from animal abuse to public health issues. ‘There were convictions, many of these plants were closed and in some cases new legislation was proposed,’ said Goldman. The new legislation being proposed here, however, would make those videos illegal.” GOP Rep. Tony Cornish is a sponsor, and he says, “ ‘We don’t need pictures. We just need someone to tell us what’s going on and we go there and check it out ourselves.’ “

Those deafening sounds of silence you’re hearing are the hordes of legislators fleeing from setting up hearings on the just-made-official Vikings stadium bill. MPR’s Tim Nelson says: “The chief House sponsor of the stadium bill says it says it will likely be weeks before lawmakers take it up. ‘We don’t expect that there will be any hearing on until after break,’ said Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead. ‘A week from today we’ll start our break, so sometime after break we’ll have the first hearing’. … A Senate version of the bill has been introduced by Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont. That bill is headed for the Senate’s local government committee, but there’s no date set yet for a hearing.” OK, so no one expects adjournment before the Fourth of July, but this is still pretty dang leisurely.

But … for the record … those involved are emphatic that they’re going to wrap this session on time. Bill Salisbury of the PiPress writes: “The constitutional deadline for ending the legislative session is May 23. During a panel discussion at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School, four top players in the budget negotiations — House Speaker Kurt Zellers, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter and Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans — all responded with a firm ‘Yes!’ when asked whether the Legislature would adjourn on time. A lot of veteran political observers doubt that. … Schowalter said the legislators still haven’t finished their budget work. Their bills have more than $1 billion in questionable fiscal assumptions in them that they ‘really need to get nailed down’ before the administration will start negotiating a final budget with them. GOP lawmakers relied on outside financial consultants to forecast the impact of some of their budget decisions, instead of using the ‘fiscal notes’ provided by Management and Budget Department analysts. Previously legislators have disputed the analysts’ numbers, but they have always accepted them as the basis for crafting a budget.”

Assuming you’re not hung over from the big Mitt-Romney-announces-exploratory-committee party last night, you’ve got to love T-Paw’s sticking it to the ex-Massachusetts gov. Ben Smith of Politico writes: “ No need for tea leaves to see whom this one is aimed at: Tim Pawlenty’s health care record in Minnesota makes him the best Republican challenger to President Barack Obama on ‘the most important issue’ facing the country, his new campaign manager Nick Ayers told POLITICO.‘We could not paint a clearer contrast between Governor Pawlenty and the President of the United States on the most important issue,’ Ayers said. Pawlenty’s aide wouldn’t comment on Mitt Romney — who’s being dogged by criticism that the health care plan he enacted in Massachusetts was the model for Obama’s plan.” Pawlenty stands prepared to defend his role in General Assistance Medical Care to any comfortably upper-class audience who‘ll hear him.

That Huck Finn thing gets cold fast.  The Strib’s Paul Walsh tells the story of three Minnesota kids on the river: “A small boat with three teenage boys on a western Minnesota river capsized and sank, leaving two of them stranded for a while on a log while a third swam to shore for help, authorities said. A host of law enforcement and emergency personnel responded to the 911 call about 7:40 p.m. Monday, after the boat sank on the Otter Tail River, east of Breckenridge, the Wilkin County Sheriff’s Office reported. … The three friends, all 17 years old, said that the trolling motor on their flat-bottom boat quit while they were out hunting. They tried to grab onto a log, but the current tipped the boat over, throwing all three into the river.”

Foreclosures accounted for 40 percent of sales activity last month, and home prices were off 15% from a year ago. And that’s the good news. The PiPress story, by Gita Sitamariah says: “The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors reports that the price decline in the 13-county metro came amid a 4 percent drop in the number of closed sales to 3,154 last month versus the year-ago period. ‘Foreclosure sales accounted for roughly 40 percent of (pending sales) and 43 percent of closings,’ said Brad Fisher, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, in a statement. ‘While those market shares are in line with recent trends, they’re still higher than what we would like to see.’ The price of traditionally sold properties decreased 4 percent to $192,000 last month versus a year earlier. Meanwhile, foreclosure prices decreased 11 percent to $105,000 and short sale prices decreased 7 percent to $134,950.”

OK, she’s accused of ripping off Minnesota. But the fact she lived in Wisconsin … well, given the state of things there, this woman still might get boiled in oil. Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune tells of a Superior woman in deep doo-doo for alleged welfare fraud: “Tessa Cherese Weatherspoon, 33, is charged with three counts of wrongfully obtaining assistance — food stamps, medical assistance, and funds from the Minnesota Family Investment Program. … According to the criminal complaint: An investigation revealed that Weatherspoon signed a lease for an apartment in Superior in November 2009. She signed a form in St. Louis County in January 2010 to re-certify her welfare benefits and listed her residence as the Safe Haven Shelter in Duluth. Safe Haven’s records indicate that she left there in November 2009 and didn’t return. … The complaint alleges that Weatherspoon received $7,708.31 in medical assistance, $5,630 in food stamps and $3,735 in Minnesota Family Investment Program funds for a total of $17,073.31 that she was not entitled to.”

Meanwhile … FoxNews is providing a fair and balanced update on recall efforts in Badger land. “Sixteen lawmakers — eight Democrats and eight Republicans — [are] in the recall crosshairs for either voting to limit collective bargaining or for fleeing the state to try and block it. Dan Baltes, executive director of American Recall Coalition, which is leading the signature-gathering efforts against Democrats, knocked down criticism that the recall fight is a sideshow. ‘I believe that anytime someone tries to hijack the political process and tries to take control of the political process, it endangers the process for the republic as a whole,’ he told Fox News. ‘And so I believe the recall statutes are there for a reason and ultimately it’s going to be up to the voters of Wisconsin to decide whether to recall them or not.’ ” Now THAT is a fair statement.