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House DFL pushing women’s pay and workplace protection

Would you cross the border to save a buck on a burger?; balloon controversy; the battle of hatred versus mercy; and more.

Could there be a “fascist” angle to this as well? The Strib’s Baird Helgeson reports, “House Democrats are making a final push for a measure designed to close the general pay gap and strengthen workplace protections for women. The measure expands family leave and provides accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees. It would expand access to affordable childcare and take several steps to reduce the gender pay gap, like better enforcement of equal pay laws for state contractors. The proposal also attempts to offset financial consequences for victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault.” It’s expected to become law.

We’re approaching peak fretting. Archie Ingersoll of the Forum News Service writes, “The minimum-wage boost that Minnesota legislators are expected to pass this week has restaurant and bar owners here wondering how the bill would affect their bottom lines in a border city already faced with tough competition from business-friendly North Dakota. At J.C. Chumley’s in Moorhead, co-owner Josh Henstorf worries he would have to reduce employees’ hours and raise prices, which may send customers to Fargo in search of a cheaper alternative.” How far would you drive to save $1 on your burger and beer?

It is kind of like littering, isn’t it? Kirsti Marohn of he St. Cloud Times says, “A mass balloon release to celebrate the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota’s 60th anniversary has sparked opposition because of environmental concerns. The foundation planned to launch 60,000 balloons May 15 at several locations around the state, including St. Cloud … to represent the 60,000 Minnesotans with epilepsy. However, the ‘Rise Above Seizures’ event has turned into a publicity headache.  … in recent years, [colorful balloon releases] have been a target of criticism around the globe amid growing awareness about the problems created by balloon remnants. Some U.S. states have banned the practice.”

After McCutcheon v. FEC, why bother with any restrictions? Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib reports, “A long-standing provision in Minnesota’s campaign finance regulations is getting renewed scrutiny after a U.S. Supreme Court decision that swept aside some federal contribution limits. For decades, Minnesota’s law has said campaigns can raise only 20 percent of their cash from lobbyists, political action committees and donors who contribute large amounts. After candidates hit that limit, they only can accept lesser donation amounts from subsequent contributors. Opponents see that provision as ripe for challenge, given recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions opening the door to more money in politics.” It’s a First Amendment thing, y’know.

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To no one’s surprise … . Jenna Ross of the Strib reports on the sentencing of the 19 year-old who killed a Willmar grandmother. “Two of Lila Warwick’s granddaughters made statements at Wednesday’s sentencing. Katie Ekbom, 22, said that at first, she was furious about the way her grandmother had died. ‘But then it hit me’, she said. ‘Is this how my grandma would want me to live?’ Their mother, Cheri Ekbom, also spoke, occasionally looking at Junkermeier. She said, in part:

The battle of hatred versus mercy is one that has played out often in my mind the last ten days. Hatred and revenge come easily, and I tell myself I am justified in doing so. Since my mom’s death eight months ago, I have had a compass to guide me. Quite simply, it’s been a compass to honor her. Despite every graphic and appalling word I’ve heard and witnessed, I do not hate. Returning hatred for hatred and evil for evil: She would not, nor will I. In this, I will honor her.”

If the weather’s nice, why waste it indoors? Mark Zedechlik at MPR says, “Former Republican state Rep. Phil Krinkie will skip Saturday’s 6th District GOP convention and fight instead for the party nomination in a primary. While he’d never pledged to abide by the GOP endorsement, he had been actively campaigning for it. Now, he says he’s waging a primary campaign because too few Republican participate in the endorsement process.”

At least one environmental group doesn’t see the point in $800,000 for White Bear Lake’s water level problem. MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar says, “Friends of the Mississippi River says the money duplicates work already being done by the Metropolitan Council and is inappropriate. It would allow for a consultant to study the feasibility and come up with a preliminary design for an augmentation system. … ‘Augmentation of White Bear Lake doesn’t solve the problem’, [Whitney] Clark said. ‘The problem is the unsustainable use of groundwater for public drinking water supplies in surrounding communities, and that’s what needs to be addressed’.”

The GleanFactor this into your river crossings … . Mary Divine of the PiPress reports, “The U.S. Coast Guard is considering a plan to accommodate commuter traffic by decreasing how often the Stillwater Lift Bridge is raised this summer. The proposal is to reduce the lifts to 19 from 21 on weekdays from May 15 to Oct. 15. The schedule would eliminate lifts at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 6:30 p.m.; add a lift at 3 p.m.; and move the 5:30 p.m. lift to 6 p.m.”

Perhaps a bit confused about his precious Second Amendment rights … . Marin Eccher of the PiPress tells us, “A road rage incident during the April 1 evening commute in Eagan led to one driver waving a BB gun at another, Dakota County prosecutors say. … [Joshua] Tipcke and another driver were both traveling westbound on Cliff Road near the intersection of Interstate 35E around 6:30 p.m.. The other driver, an adult male, said Tipcke cut him off. The driver honked and ‘pointed his finger in a scolding manner’ at Tipcke, the charges said. The driver then saw Tipcke root around in his car, produce a gun and point it at him. That prompted the driver to back off. He called 911 and followed Tipcke to an Eagan apartment complex. … a woman called police to say Tipcke had pushed his way into her apartment with a gun in his waistband. He told her the police were looking for her.”  For her?