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Minnesota could be first to ban the chemical triclosan

Interstate cooperation on Stillwater Lift Bridge; first-day legislative push on tax cuts; prosecutor removed from sex offender case; Target’s “disclosure day”; and more.

We could be N0. 1. Elizabeth Dunbar at MPR reports: “The Minneapolis City Council has urged the state to ban triclosan, and Gov. Mark Dayton has already ordered state agencies to stop using products containing the chemical. If state lawmakers pass legislation this year, Minnesota would be the first state to ban triclosan. The chemical has been around since the 1960s and more recently has been added to a long list of products — from deodorant and face cream to toothpaste. University of Minnesota researchers, who have found increasing amounts of triclosan in lakes and rivers, say it can interact with chlorine and sunlight to form harmful dioxins in the environment.” You know there’s a pro-triclosan lobbyist out there, somewhere.

A little cooperation with our fine neighbors to the east … Says Jim Anderson in the Strib: “In next several fiscal years, Minnesota and Wisconsin will jointly begin building an endowment fund, totaling at least $3 million, for the 83-year-old [Stillwater Lift] bridge. The money will be drawn from agency budgets set aside to operate and maintain the span, now crossed by 17,000 vehicles daily, after it is converted for hiking and biking once a four-lane bridge 2 miles downstream on the St. Croix River opens in 2016.��

MPR’s story on the opening day of the legislative session has Tom Scheck saying: “Republican leaders appear on board with the push to cut taxes, but they also say there’s some irony that Democrats are pushing to repeal many of the taxes they enacted just last year. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said the timing of the tax talk is suspicious considering Dayton and the House are up for re-election in November. ‘In a non-election year, Democrats were acting like Democrats, raising every tax that they could think of,’ said Daudt, R-Crown.”

Chris Serres of the Strib says: “A Hennepin County prosecutor who argued for the release of a violent serial rapist has been removed from the case because of incendiary ­comments directed at a rival prosecutor. Assistant Hennepin County Attorney George Widseth has taken a medical leave of absence until early April  … In an e-mail to [Solicitor General Alan] Gilbert, Widseth said he was sending him an ‘article on ‘low T’ — it might help,’ presumably a reference to low testosterone. Widseth ended the message with, ‘Yours in Christ.’ ” Gilbert is Jewish, BTW.

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Got one of these? Steve Alexander of the Strib reports: “Polaris Industries Inc. is recalling 16,550 of its consumer off-road vehicles because the throttle cable could melt, causing a rider to lose control of the four-wheeler. The recall covers some but not all of the Medina-based firm’s 2013 model year Polaris Ranger 500 EFI and Ranger Crew 500 EFI off-highway vehicles.”

A bit of wisdom from Lynda McDonnell in a Strib commentary on social media: “We adults should be concerned about what our kids and grandkids are doing on social media. But rather than being quick to tut, threaten and punish, as school officials in Rogers were recently over a student’s two-word tweet, we need to work harder to understand how teens use social media … . the goal of parents, teachers, coaches and other adults who work with teens should be to understand their social-media use and promote a clear understanding of rights and responsibilities, impact and consequences.”

Today will be a kind of disclosure day for Target. Tom Webb of the PiPress says: “Target will give details on its financial condition, fallout from the data breach and the state of its troubled Canadian expansion, when it announces quarterly earnings Wednesday morning. The discount chain has already warned that sales and profits have been hurt by those troubles, but it’s not clear how severely.”

Speaking of … Beware of anonymous ranting, but Gawker has a juicy screed from someone claiming to be a former Target manager. Hamilton Nolan writes: “Though Walmart’s shady business practices draw much of our attention, we’ve also carried many, many tales of Target’s own union-busting and terrible workplace conditions. The following email (which we received this week in response to our recent series of Walmart posts) comes from someone who has worked as a manager at Walmart, Target, and other retailers.

 … The main focus of my job was to get people to sign up for Target Redcards. Why? Because Target made a killing off those that owned one of those cards.”

Aaron Rupar of City Pages got ACLU director Chuck Samuelson on the line to talk about the … disproportionate … response to the Great Rogers High Tweeting Scandal: “Asked about why he thinks Minnesota’s criminal defamation statute is unconstitutional, Samuelson said, ‘It’s very broad, and very vague, and those are two reasons to throw out something as a law.’ ‘The facts in this case, frankly, are not good facts for [prosecutors], and this is a middle-class kid which means he has resources and it’s going to be a tough fight,’. he continued. With regard to what would’ve constituted criminal defamation,Samuelson said, ‘Maybe if the guy had said more than two words, maybe if he had a history of doing stuff like this.’ ”