The latest round in the battle over lavishly-paid waiters. Patrick Condon of the Strib says, “Minnesota restaurateurs, sensing an opportunity with the new Republican House majority and fresh signs of sympathy from DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, plan to push for an exemption to last year’s minimum wage increase that would allow them to pay a lower base wage to tipped employees. … Last year’s minimum wage hike was a huge victory for organized labor. The groups that pushed it are on high alert for proposals that would undermine it.”
Another issue getting teed up, this one according to the Forum News Service: “Minnesota state Rep. Anna Wills, R-Apple Valley, has brought back unsuccessful legislation she authored two years ago to give a tax credit for hiring a military veteran. She said that would help lower veteran unemployment. … A separate bill, by Sen. Paul Gazelka and Rep. Josh Heintzeman … would exclude retired military members from state income taxes.” How about a bill that lets them buy liquor on Sundays?
On that big-time DFL transportation funding plan, Don Davis of the Forum News Service writes: “Sen. Susan Kent, D-Woodbury, said that changes are made because transportation needs remain unmet. ‘We are not addressing these needs with our current approach,’ Kent said. While House Republicans suggested a short-term $750 million spending bill over four years, Democrats said more money, and permanent funding, is needed. ‘We are very much headed in the right direction,’ Kent said about the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party bill. ‘This is basic math.’”
Related to that math: The AP says, “Minnesota’s coffers are $212 million fuller than state finance officials thought they’d be at this stage. A budget update Monday by the Department of Minnesota Management and Budget documented tax collections that are outpacing projections. The report covers revenue through December. The short-term snapshot feeds into expectations at the Capitol that a $1 billion projected surplus will swell. Individual income taxes accounted for the largest overage, coming in $166 million stronger than estimated earlier.”
KMSP-TV’s Tom Lyden has a piece about yet another Minnesota man turning up in a terrorist recruiting video. “Another young man from Minnesota may have become a suicide bomber in Somalia. The Al Qaeda affiliate terror group Al Shabaab has produced yet another slick video with a frightening message. The propaganda video is the kind that has led dozens from Minnesota, and thousands around the world, to join jihad. The man from Minnesota featured in the video is not someone who is previously known to have traveled to Somalia, and the FBI told Fox 9 News they cannot confirm his death, and we are unable to independently verify any of the facts.”
In Catholic sex scandals, MPR’s Madeleine Baran reports, “Internal archdiocese documents released Monday by a clergy sex abuse attorney claim former University of St. Thomas president Dennis Dease knew of child sex abuse allegations against a Catholic Studies professor for several years. The newly released documents contradict the university’s public statement last year that Dease and other top administrators did not know about the allegations against the Rev. Michael Keating until late 2013.”
What? Not even “above average”? Tom Meersman of the Strib says, “U.S. farmers produced record amounts of corn and soybeans in 2014, according to the annual crop production report issued Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Minnesota, however, had an average crop year, not a record one, according to the report. Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Bruce Peterson said that the long winter, which extended into spring, reduced the growing season and played a role in limiting the state’s crop yields.”
A couple changes at the top. Tad Vezner at the PiPress says, “A pair of internal promotions resulted in new official heads of both the Minnesota State Patrol and the state’s Homeland Security Emergency Management Division this week. Matt Langer, who has been acting chief of the State Patrol for the past year, was appointed to chief Monday. Langer also served as assistant chief of the patrol for four years; he joined as a trooper in 1999. … Additionally, Joe Kelly, currently deputy director of the Department of Public Safety’s Homeland Security Emergency Management Division, was promoted Monday to director.”
Make your kid’s day. Take him to the dentist. The AP reports, “Dentists across Minnesota will provide free dental care for children in need at the annual Give Kids a Smile event next month. Services will be available for up to 6,000 children at more than 200 dental offices on Feb. 6 and 7. Patients seeking appointments should be 18 years or younger and accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.” Orthodontia is probably not on the free menu.
It’s not a good time to be a pheasant. Dana Melius in the St. Peter Herald writes, “Is Minnesota’s ring-necked pheasant population at a crossroads? Habitat losses, coupled with harsh weather conditions, have taken a huge toll on the state’s pheasant numbers. And with an estimated one-fourth of Minnesota’s existing CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) farm land set to expire in 2015, that’s another 290,000 acres of potential wildlife habitat back in agricultural production.”
Finally, “some form of ‘yes’? Alex Friedrich of MPR says, “‘No means no’ might not cut it anymore at the University of Minnesota. Student leaders are looking into a potential rule that would require their peers to give some form of ‘yes’ before having sex. Supporters say an ‘affirmative consent’ policy could make it easier to determine in sexual assault cases whether acts were truly consensual and remake campus attitudes about sexual behavior.”