Dennis Anderson can claim victory. The AP story says: “Gov. Mark Dayton used his line-item veto Thursday to strike two controversial provisions from the bill that uses state sales-tax money for grants to environmental and arts programs. In deleting over $9 million from the $496 million Legacy Fund bill, Dayton acknowledged that he was forced to renege on a compromise he made with Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and House Speaker Paul Thissen in the final days of session. But he said that was necessary because of an earlier promise made during his gubernatorial run to supporters of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, the state panel comprised mostly of citizens that reviews some applications for the Legacy Fund and makes grant recommendations. Dayton excised $6.3 million for Twin Cities parks and $3 million to tribes and local governments to deal with aquatic invasive species.”
The body of a second child has been recovered from that landslide in Lilydale Wednesday. The MPR story by Elizabeth Dunbar and Tim Nelson says: “The boy who had been missing at the site of a landslide at Lilydale Park in St. Paul has been found dead, authorities said Thursday. ‘We were able to locate the location of where the young child was and then we’ve extricated him from the pit,’ St. Paul Assistant Fire Chief Jim Smith said during a news briefing. Crews resumed their search at about 9:30 a.m. in the area where one other child died and two others were injured. Family members identified the boy whose body was recovered Thursday as 10-year-old Mohamed Fofana. The boy’s uncle, Mohamed Bah, fought back tears as he talked to reporters before authorities announced they had found him.”
Three locks on the Mississippi have been closed to fun boating because of heavy water flow. WCCO-TV and the AP say: “The closures affect the Upper and Lower St. Anthony Falls locks in downtown Minneapolis, and Lock and Dam 1 near Minnehaha Park between Minneapolis and St. Paul. For safety, the Corps closes these locks to recreational boaters when river flows exceed 30,000 cubic feet per second, and it closes them to commercial traffic at 40,000 cubic feet per second. The Corps says it expects the closures could last around five days.”
MPR’s Paul Huttner talked about climate change and killer tornadoes this morning: “[T]he killer tornado that hit Oklahoma has no clear link to global warming, according to the chief meteorologist for MPR News. ‘To be honest, we still don’t know the triggering mechanism’ for tornadoes, Paul Huttner said on Thursday’s edition of Climate Cast. And concerning the relationship between tornadoes and climate change generally, he said, ‘we don’t know a lot, and the trends don’t seem to show much. There’s really no clear connection between an increase in the most violent tornadoes, these EF4 and EF5 monsters that we saw in Moore, and climate change. If you look at the trends from 1950 on, or even back before that, you don’t see a real uptick in these most violent tornadoes.’ Even though social media were quick to see a link, ‘It’s one of those things we can’t connect the dots on,’ he said. ‘There doesn’t seem to be any conclusive evidence that it’s changing.’ “
A Duluth restaurateur’s saga with UMD has ended … sort of. Jana Hollingsworth of the News Tribune says: “After years of contention including accusations and countercharges of sexual harassment, the University of Minnesota Duluth has terminated wellness director Rod Raymond, according to statements from the university and Raymond’s lawyer released Wednesday. Well-known as a Duluth entrepreneur and restaurateur outside of his employment at UMD, Raymond since October 2011 had been on unpaid leave from the university by his own request … . Records state that UMD agreed to pay a student and her attorney $30,000 in April 2012 after the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found probable cause that she was sexually harassed in 2009 by Raymond. The records also state that UMD discriminated against the student when Raymond allegedly retaliated against her after she reported the claimed harassment. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights found no probable cause to investigate separate charges by Raymond that UMD sexually discriminated against him. The department dismissed his complaint in August.” That’s tough PR.
Certain to infuriate the Big Gummint types … Esme Murphy of WCCO-TV says: “[A] WCCO investigation found soaring salaries are actually going to state employees who work as staff members. Even taking out workers at the state judicial branch, MnSCU and the U of M, there are nearly 700 state employees making more than $100,000. … There are 107 state workers who make more than the $118,000 that Gov. Dayton pulls in each year. And 698 state workers earn more than $100,000. There is actually a state law that says state employees can’t make more than the Governor, but the law allows for a lot of exceptions, and many exceptions allow staff members to make a lot more than their bosses. Gov. Mark Dayton’s own chief of staff, Tina Smith, makes $124,000 — more than he does.” And what would be the compensation for an upper-middle-level exec at your average big insurance company?
Working to save cheap sugar … . Brett Neely of MPR reports: “The U.S. Senate defeated an amendment to the farm bill that would have ended government protections for the domestic sugar industry, including Minnesota sugar beet growers. Those protections include import restrictions on foreign sugar and price supports for domestic growers. Backed by the candy industry and food processors, supporters of the amendment argued that ending the sugar program would lower the cost of sugar for American consumers. But both of Minnesota’s Democratic Senators voted against the amendment. Sen. Al Franken said ending the program wouldn’t lower costs, and would cost the country jobs.” How many jobs go into one 48-ounce Slurpee?
More Public Policy Polling … . Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib reports: “According to a new Public Policy Polling poll, completed just before the legislative session concluded on Monday, 49 percent of Minnesotans give [Gov. Dayton] high approval rating and 47 percent give him failing marks. Those numbers are significantly down from January, when 53 percent of Minnesotans approved of the job he was doing and 39 percent did not. Despite Minnesotans’ mixed feelings about the governor, they still favor him over potential Republican challengers. He has double digit leads in head to head match ups against 2010 opponent Tom Emmer and Republican candidates Scott Honour and Jeff Johnson. He has similar leads over Republicans Julie Rosen, David Hann, Dave Thompson and Kurt Zellers, all of whom have said they are considering a run. … The poll included 38 percent Democrats; 27 percent Republicans and 35 percent independents but more people in the poll — 38 percent — described themselves as conservative than liberal — 32 percent.”
The latest on Congressman John Kline’s student loan bill … Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “With student loan rates set to double in five weeks, the U.S. House passed a bill Thursday by U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., to replace the current fixed rates with floating rates tied to government borrowing costs. But the largely party-line 221-198 vote does not avert the crisis for an estimated 7 million students who get federal student loans to meet the challenges of rising college costs and diminishing employment prospects. Under a White House veto threat, Kline’s bill sets the stage for a high-stakes standoff with the Democratic-led Senate to meet a July 1 deadline, with tens of thousands of students looking on from Minnesota, which ranks third nationally in overall student debt.”
Today’s Google doodle comes from a Sparta, Wis., kid. The AP reports: “A Wisconsin teen is the winner of Doodle 4 Google’s national contest with her art called ‘Coming Home.’ Google says millions of votes were cast on 130,000 submissions in its annual contest to design the logo on Google’s home page. Sabrina Brady is a senior at Sparta High School. Brady says she created the art in honor of the day her Dad returned home from Iraq after 18 months of military service. … Brady wins a $30,000 college scholarship, a Chromebook computer and a $50,000 technology grant for her school.” Nice going …