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Amid cries of ‘fascism,’ bullying bill passes

Dayton tumbles for LRT tunnels; minimum-wage hike popular; a ‘Minnesota Miracle’ for higher ed; and more.

You know who else favored bullying prevention? After nearly 12 (!) hours of debate, the Minnesota House passed a tougher anti-bullying bill Tuesday night 69-63, the Pioneer Press’s Christopher Magan reports. Republicans likened the bill (which requires “The bill requires school leaders to develop a comprehensive anti-bullying policy, train staff to prevent bullying and quickly investigate allegations”) to “fascism and George Orwell,” Magan notes. The bill names several groups of students, such as GLBT kids, but covers all kids, at an estimated $40 million cost. Pertinent video from The Uptake here and here.

Eat some tunnel, Minneapolis. Gov. Mark Dayton, who had held up approval of the Southwest LRT line due to complaints from citizens in Minneapolis’s Kenilworth Corridor, now says he supports a shallow-tunnel plan through the well-heeled zone, the Strib’s Pat Doyle declares. The guv acknowledged the process (which involved a tug of war with St. Louis Park over freight traffic) was “flawed,” and that Minneapolis could still sink the project if it withholds municipal consent. But Minneapolis wants a lot of stuff from the state government, so the end game remains afoot.

Related … . Laura Yuen of MPR reports, “The Metropolitan Council is expected to approve plans Wednesday for what would be the Twin Cities’ third light rail line, connecting the urban core to the southwest suburbs. Once that happens, the focus of the roughly $1.7 billion Southwest transit project will shift to the city of Minneapolis. … While the light rail debate to date has largely focused on how to preserve the character of the leafy Kenilworth corridor and bike trail, social-justice groups from the city’s north side are sounding a different message about equity.”

Pay raises for poverty-wage workers remains popular. A KSTP-TV poll shows the just-passed $9.50 minimum wage very popular, garnering 61 percent support. Indexing — i.e. automatic pay raises tied to inflation — remains less so, at 49 percent, but fewer respondents (40 percent) are opposed. Check out MinnPost’s analysis of indexing’s potential impact, and of the politics behind the legislation.

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This could be a very nice public amenity. Back to choo-choos: Rochelle Olson of the Strib reports, “After two years of closed-door meetings, the Minnesota Twins and Hennepin County have formalized details for the $79 million Target Field transit hub and surrounding parcels of land. … Both United Properties, the Twins’ development arm, and county commissioners heaped praise on the complicated deal, which has the team developing neighboring parcels of land and ‘activating’ the public plaza near Target Field with a large video screen, concerts and events at an amphitheater.”

Governor, this isn’t news to anyone. Jeff Meitrodt of the Strib writes, “During a news conference Tuesday, Dayton said Republicans are ‘making a mockery of the word oversight’ and engaging in a ‘propaganda campaign’ aimed at destroying MNsure. ‘It is really irresponsible’ Dayton said. ‘The fact that they can pretend this is part of the oversight process is just ludicrous. They want to trash MNsure. … They want MNsure to fail’.” They’re just upset that their alternate plan has received so little attention.

“Unanimous” is a rare beast. Says Tim Pugmire for MPR, “First responders rushing to aid a drug overdose victim would have the power to use the antidote Narcan under a bill passed unanimously Tuesday by the Minnesota Senate. The legislation would also grant immunity to ‘Good Samaritans’, who call for medical help when someone has overdosed.”

The GleanThe Senate likes $209 million in new spending. Baird Helgeson of the Strib writes, “Minnesota would spend an addition $209 million for education, prisons and raises for state-paid home health workers, under a proposal that passed through the state Senate on Tuesday. ‘There are many things in here that are desirous,’ said Senate Finance Committee Chair Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul. The 37-27 vote came after a prolonged floor debate in which Republicans repeatedly failed to amend the measure. Republicans have pushed for deeper tax cuts instead of more spending. ‘Minnesotans have once again been denied additional tax relief,’ said Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake.”

MPR’s Alex Friedrich posts a substantive “open letter” to Gov. Dayton from Darrell Downs, president of the Winona State University Faculty Association. Basically, he implores Dayton to recreate Wendell Anderson’s “Minnesota Miracle” … for higher education. “With affordability at the center of higher education challenges today, I am asking you for another miracle. According to the MN Office of Higher Education, while per capita income doubled over the past twenty years, tuition and fees at the state universities grew by 204 percent, and an even more shocking 295 percent increase at the U of M. Students and families are borrowing for higher education at rates that exceed increases in tuition and fees. And if that wasn’t bad enough, colleges and universities are responding to this affordability problem by transforming campuses into de facto private franchises led by centralized higher education bureaucracies.”

Alert! DefCon 4! Edina to be inconvenienced! Tim Harlow of the Strib says, “Two construction projects that will disrupt the traffic flow in Edina get underway Monday. They include reconstruction of the Xerxes Avenue Bridge over the Crosstown and work on France Avenue in the Southdale area. The Minnesota Department of Transportation closed the Xerxes Avenue Bridge at 9 a.m. Monday and it will remained closed until early July. Ramps to and from Crosstown to Xerxes will remain open until Wednesday. They also will be shut down until early July.”

Oh, boy … . The Forum News Service story says, “Police are investigating two Nebraska hockey players for allegedly circulating a video that shows one of the players having sex with a 15-year-old Moorhead girl when their minor league team was in town to play the Fargo Force in February. Court documents filed in the investigation say two 18-year-old players for the Lincoln Stars allegedly had sex with the girl at the Days Inn in Moorhead on Feb. 15, and took photos and video recordings. A 10-second clip of one of the players having sex with the girl was distributed among Stars players and to other teams in the United States Hockey League … .”

Speaking of knuckleheads … . Marino Eccher of the PiPress says, “A police dispatcher thwarted a burglary attempt at a Maplewood business when a suspect inadvertently called 911 and left the line open as he and an alleged accomplice discussed the crime, police say. The two men allegedly on the other end of the ill-fated call, Todd J. Weiss and Justin G. Evans, were arrested at the scene. Both face third-degree felony burglary charges. … the calls were made using the phone’s emergency-call feature. As is the case with all 911 calls, the dispatcher could see the location: a car-repair shop at White Bear Avenue and County Road D. Officers arrived to see the two men leaving the building wearing dark clothing, the charges said. One was carrying a television, the other a box.”