Getting the Legislature to pitch in and help cover the U of M’s tuition freeze isn’t going to be easy. Christopher Magan of the PiPress says, “University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler faces an uphill battle at the Capitol if he’s going to persuade state lawmakers to spend more taxpayer money on continuing a 2012 tuition freeze. Republicans, who now control the House, want to limit spending. They’ve prioritized tax cuts and returning some of the state’s projected surplus to families. DFLers, who control the Senate, have been cool to the idea since Kaler first proposed it in the fall. They’ve made offering students tuition-free attendance at two-year state schools a top priority.”
Related: The AP says, “A Senate DFL plan to offer free tuition at community colleges won’t help the state’s production of future doctors, dentists and other health care professionals, the University of Minnesota’s president said Tuesday. Eliminating tuition at state two-year community and technical colleges — one of the first bills Senate DFL leaders introduced last week — is a good move, Eric Kaler told reporters on Tuesday. But it’s unwise for lawmakers to only invest in two-year programs, Kaler said.”
Carbon monoxide. It’s a killer. In Maya Rao’s Strib story we learn, “Two women and their pet dog were found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in their Lindstrom home Monday. The women, Lisa Marie Kantorowicz, 53, and Cheryl Carmel Adams, 56, are part of a surge in carbon monoxide deaths in recent years. Twenty-two people died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in Minnesota last year, according to a preliminary calculation by the Department of Health. That’s the highest number since at least the 1990s. Health and law enforcement officials stress that such cases are usually preventable with carbon monoxide detectors, which were not found in the Lindstrom house. Kantorowicz’ and Adams’ furnace was clogged and covered with ice outside, contributing to the buildup of the odorless, colorless gas.”
Just a small problem with cash flow. Abby Simons of the Strib reports, “A Minnesota state senator who filed for bankruptcy after reneging on a six-figure small-business loan, was relieved of $840,000 in debt last year. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy case of Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, officially closed in October, just three months after Nienow and his wife, Cynthia, filed. In court filings, the couple claimed they owed $930,000 to creditors, but had only $122,000 in assets — almost all of which is comprised of his home, which he has mortgaged twice.” Now back to fiscal responsibility.
Fraud Watch. The AP says, “A Minnesota woman is accused of defrauding an insurance company of $2 million in her ex-husband’s faked death and her son is accused of helping cover up the scheme. Irina Vorotinov, 47, of Plymouth, is charged with one count of mail fraud and her 25-year-old son, Alkon Vorotinov, is charged with one count of concealing a felony. Both appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Paul. Prosecutors say her ex-husband’s death was staged in the eastern European country of Moldova.”
It’s a matter of wolves v. politicians. Says Steve Karnowski for the AP, “Several members of Congress are preparing legislation to take gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming off the endangered list in an attempt to undo court decisions that have blocked the states from allowing wolf hunting and trapping for sport and predator control. U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., is leading the effort, his office confirmed Tuesday. Co-sponsors include U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Dan Benishek, R-Mich., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.” So, kind of a Blue Dog and GOP pack attack on the furry critters.
Ashley Bishop at North Dakota’s ValleyNewsLive says, “A number of oil rigs in North Dakota are starting to shut down: right now there are 156 active oil rigs. January of 2014 saw 193 active rigs. Many industries in the Fargo area are not feeling the direct impact yet. For example. Busy Bubbles laudromat in North Fargo, an employee told Valley News Live they’re still seeing a steady number of oil workers bringing in their dirty clothes to be cleaned. … With the price of oil falling, North Dakota House Majority Leader Al Carlson says the Legislature is cautiously optimistic the state’s oil industry is going to survive. He says they are not planning to overspend or borrow money.”
Maybe they’ll give us the game if we offer to pay everyone’s taxes, provide every coach with a new Cadillac, clear all the runways for their planes and walk their dogs. Doug Belden of the PiPress says, “Local stadium and hospitality officials were in Arlington, Texas, for Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship, and they came away interested in possibly bringing the game to Minneapolis within five years. ‘We definitely could host this event,’ said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the public body overseeing construction of the new $1 billion Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. Kelm-Helgen said local officials will decide for sure whether to submit a bid after the request for proposals comes out next month, but they’re leaning toward doing so. A local bid would be submitted for either the 2019 or 2020 game, she said.”
Following the state’s metro v. outstate disparity in broadband internet service, Don Davis and Amy Chaffins of the Forum News Service says, “Recently released figures show varying disparities among Minnesota households served by high-speed Internet service, also known as broadband, that meets the state speed goal. For example, Connect Minnesota reports that 16 percent of Douglas County homes have access to the state minimum Internet speed. In Todd County, the access rate is 26 percent. Stevens County, adjoining Douglas to the southwest and home to the University of Minnesota Morris, reports 99 percent availability. The report shows several examples of differences among the state’s metro and rural counties.”
The enrollment decline is over in St. Paul. Says Tim Post for MPR, “The St. Paul school district expects to add between 1,500 and 3,000 students in the next decade, an increase of between 4 and 8 percent. District leaders say that would be modest but welcome growth after 10 years of overall decline. The enrollment projections, which go before the St. Paul school board tonight, will help district officials plan for future program and building needs. Current enrollment is just under 38,000.”
A Minnesota couple has prevailed with the Supremes. The AP says, “A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that home buyers don’t need to file a lawsuit, but may simply write a letter if they want to back out of a mortgage because they claim their lender violated the federal Truth in Lending Act. The decision came in a case involving Larry and Cheryle Jesinoski, a Minnesota couple who refinanced their home in 2007 with Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., now part of Bank of America Corp. They claim the company failed to provide some disclosures required under federal law. The couple sent a written notice of rescission within three years after the loan closed. But a federal judge ruled they should have filed a lawsuit instead. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. Resolving a split among lower courts, the Supreme Court said written notice was enough.” Remind me. Is anyone from Countrywide doing hard time? I didn’t think so.