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Governor’s budget calls for doubling of texting-while-driving fine

Texters beware. Brian Bakst at the AP looks closer at the governor’s proposed budget and reports, “Getting caught texting while driving could carry a steeper fine. Entrance fees at Minnesota state parks would rise slightly to pay for upkeep. Meat, poultry, canning and other food-production plants would be more likely to come under inspection thanks to beefed-up budgets. … The Department of Public Safety wants to double the current $50 fine in cases of repeat offenders in hopes of deterring the habit.”

It sounds too good to be true. Alex Friedrich at MPR goes on to say, “While zero tuition at two-year schools sounds enticing, some ask if it’s really the best way to help more low-income students finish college and fill the state’s workforce. They also note that money isn’t the only barrier low-income students face pursuing a degree. Free tuition ‘is sort of a blunt policy instrumen,t, said David Weerts, a professor who studies higher-education finance at the University of Minnesota. ‘You end up having to invest more than you maybe need to.’ “

We’re #1! Via WCCO-TV we have this: “State officials say a new report shows that Minnesota businesses lead the nation in reducing or eliminating dangerous pollutants from their work processes. The report, released by the Environmental Protection Agency, says that Minnesota businesses implemented measures that resulted in toxic releases being cut by 1 million pounds between the years of 2012 and 2013.”

This seemed unlikely a year ago. In the Strib, Graydon Royce says, “The Minnesota Orchestra, whose last visit to Carnegie Hall was torpedoed by the 2012-2014 lockout, has been invited to the celebrated concert venue for the 2015-16 season. The orchestra, with music director Osmo Vanska, will play the first and third Sibelius symphonies in a concert on March 3, 2016. In addition, Hilary Hahn will perform Sibelius’s violin concerto with the orchestra.”

The old line about how you can never go wrong opposing taxes applies to newspaper editorial boards as well. This from the Duluth News Tribune, “Heaven forbid Minnesotans enjoy reasonably priced gas. Or their hard-earned money. Gov. Mark Dayton Monday unveiled a plan that includes paying 16 cents a gallon more in gasoline taxes to help pay for the upkeep and improvement of Minnesota’s highways and bridges. Minnesotans also would pay more in motor vehicle license fees and $10 more to register a vehicle in the name of funding transportation priorities. … But before we scream ‘uncle!’ as a sign of surrender, how about this? How about cutting from the state’s existing budget to cover at least some of the cost of keeping up with transportation needs, as legislative Republicans have suggested? Couldn’t we at least look if there’s some cutting that could be done to free up a bit of cash?” And like tax-fighting politicians everywhere,their list of possible budget cuts is, well, zero.

Next time, tell them you work for the CIA. From the Superior Telegram: “Authorities say a former Minnesota state trooper claimed to be an active member of the force when he was stopped on suspicion of drunken driving in Superior on Christmas. ‘I’m a cop,’ Gaylen Patrick Williams allegedly told a Superior police officer, before stating that he was going to be in trouble with his captain. Authorities, however, were able to dispel that claim rather quickly with a phone call to the Minnesota State Patrol communications center. … The misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of nine months’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.”

The latest on the New Hope City Council gunman, from Karen Zamora and Paul Walsh at the Strib. “Noting that [Raymond] Kmetz had been civilly committed twice for psychological difficulties, [Sheriff Rich] Stanek said, ‘He should not have had access to any type of weapon. We do not know how he achieved to have a weapon,’ which he described as a ‘pistol-grip shotgun’ with the serial numbers ‘obliterated.’” Yeah, that is odd, because guns are so tough to come by.

Nothing serious. Walsh again:  “A northwestern Minnesota woman has admitted that she murdered her boyfriend by lashing him by the neck to an SUV and dragging him along a country road. Jessica M. Kilde, 33, of Ogema, pleaded guilty this week in Becker County District Court to second-degree intentional murder in the Aug. 15 death of Richard A. Baity, 41. … Kilde told authorities that she and Baity had a disagreement at his home that night, but it was nothing serious. The complaint noted that the two had been drinking and smoking methamphetamine at the home earlier in the day.”

You have to wonder how cheap gas will affect this. The Strib’s Tim Harlow says, “Transit providers in the seven-county metro area provided 97.7 million rides on buses and trains last year, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2013, according to new data released Wednesday by the Metropolitan Council. Metro Transit, the area’s largest transit provider, provided 84.5 million rides last year. That was an increase of 3.1 million rides from 2013 and the most the most since 1981, the Met Council said.”

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 01/28/2015 - 02:19 pm.

    More than texting

    I keep hoping that Minnesota will join other states like California in banning phone use in cars altogether. One sees way too much of it, with cars swerving back and forth over the lane markers, and that special class of self-absorbed twits who hang in the passing lane, intent upon their phone conversations and refusing to move over for faster traffic.

    • Submitted by Andy Dunn on 01/28/2015 - 03:24 pm.

      As a professional pedestrian…

      …I have to occasional dive out of the way when somebody driving while on the phone is turning the corner but watching for oncoming traffic. I guess I should be thankful they’re (kinda, sorta) being alert drivers.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 01/28/2015 - 04:57 pm.

      I’m with you !! First, they should have quadrupled the fine,…

      …but you’re right – an outright ban would go to the heart of the problem, rather than nibbling around the edges.

      I witnessed an accident at 25th and Hennepin (while sitting on a bus bench) where 2 drivers smacked into each other WHILE TALKING ON THEIR CELL PHONES – both drivers, natirally. As they pulled over to exchange license info & maybe wait for the cops, they didn’t interrupt their calls (heavens, no!) and even as they walked over to each other between the cars, they still held their phones to their ears.

      I would support more-or-less immediate police access to cell phone records in the case of accidents, so that the cops could tell if someone was conducting ANY kind of cell phone call DURING an accident. They can give a breathalyzer or can-you-walk-a-straight-line test to find out if you’re alcohol impaired. If a driver impaired by cell phone activity is as dangerous as a driver impaired by alcohol, why not equal penalties under the law ??

      If you’re injured or killed by an airhead talking on their cell phone while driving, are you going to be injured less or any less dead because they were on the phone, rather than drunk ??

    • Submitted by Dan Bosch on 01/28/2015 - 06:43 pm.

      Another special class of twits

      are the pushy tailgaiters. Often when I am going above the speed limit to pass a long line of slower vehicles in the right lane, there is always that idiot who wants me to pass them even faster regardless the conditions.

  2. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 01/28/2015 - 04:11 pm.

    Ok Duluth News Tribune – great idea!

    Let’s cut the LGA program to fund all the roads and bridges out state

  3. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 01/28/2015 - 09:33 pm.

    More transit rides than in 1981

    Any chance that our population has increased since then?

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