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A constitutional amendment to protect electronic data?

Plus: jury reaches verdict in Toyota trial; frac sand proposal back on the table; Dayton bashes Wisconsin tourism ads; and more.

REUTERS/Eric Thayer

This will be tricky. Abby Simons of the Strib writes, “A proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment would protect text messages, e-mails and other electronic data from warrantless searches, but the initiative faces hurdles from some lawmakers who say such communications are already protected under current law. … Although the bill cleared its first House committee Tuesday, it faces a more significant hurdle in the Senate, where one a once instrumental leader says data privacy questions have already been resolved by the courts. Sen. Ron Latz, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, refused to give the bill a hearing last month, saying he prefers to avoid legislating by constitutional amendment when he believes electronic data is already protected.”

Place your bets on when they collect. The AP story on that $11 million Toyota verdict says, “Jurors said the company was 60 percent to blame for the accident, which left three people dead and two seriously injured. But they also found that Koua Fong Lee, who has long insisted he tried to stop his car before it slammed into another vehicle, was 40 percent to blame. … Under Minnesota law, Tuesday’s verdict means Toyota is responsible for paying all damages minus 40 percent of the amount awarded to Mr. Lee, bringing Toyota’s total liability to $10.94 million. Mr. Lee will receive $750,000 of that total.”  

Minnesota sand is getting to business. Tony Kennedy of the Strib says, “A major frac sand proposal for southeastern Minnesota, which stalled two years when the state demanded an extensive environmental review, is back on track with a $130,450 payment made to regulators to fund the first phase of study. Minnesota Sands LLC delivered the cash in late December for the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB), founder Rick Frick said, and will submit a revised business plan by the end of February involving several related frac sand operations in at least four counties: Winona, Fillmore, Olmsted, Goodhue and possibly Wabasha.”

Speaking of digging, John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune reports, “Minnesota lawmakers on Tuesday heard from supporters and critics of proposed copper mine projects in the state even though no legislation is proposed on the issue. …  Critics noted that the recent Mt. Polley copper mine disaster in Canada, where a tailings basin dike collapsed and sent billions of gallons of contaminated water downstream, shows that even modern mines can cause massive environmental damage, especially in a water-rich environment like Northeastern Minnesota.”

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And closer still to becoming another socialist hellhole. Says Dan Kraker for MPR, “A coalition of labor, faith and community groups is hoping to make Minnesota the fourth state in the country to guarantee paid sick time off for workers. … State Rep. John Lesch of St. Paul coauthored the bill, which would require employers to offer at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. It would make all full- and part-time employees in the state eligible for the benefit after three months on the job.” Obviously these people don’t know how miserable everyone is in Denmark and Sweden with giveaways like this.

And wasn’t it exciting and edifying? MPR’s Catharine Richert tells us, “Between money spent by the parties, political groups and the two major candidates for governor, Minnesota’s 2014 campaign cost at least $28 million. That figure is based on final fundraising reports from last year’s election available today through the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. It includes at least $15.6 million in independent expenditures – money that parties and political groups spend on things like ads and campaign fliers – to boost or attack certain candidates.”

Mmmm. Bad pub for Target. Susan Du of City Pages reports, “Back in April 2012, Erik Lundin was unloading a box from the top of a truck that had been packed heavier than it was supposed to be. He lost his balance, twisted and smashed into the side-wall of the trailer. He ended up with three disc herniations in his upper back. At first, Target took responsibility for the accident. But then they faltered when it came down to actually paying for things like physical therapy and medication. … So Lundin faced Target in court. After about a year and half, the judge ruled the retail giant was liable for Lundin’s medical bills after all. Now, Target’s continuing to space out, Lundin says. The company says it’ll foot the bill for his medical bills, but they’re taking their sweet time. And even though under workers’ compensation law, the liable employer needs to pay two-thirds of all wages lost since the accident, Lundin hasn’t seen a dime of that since September 2012.”

What are the chances the Governor ever saw “Airplane!”? Stribber Patrick Condon reports, “Gov. Mark Dayton, who rarely misses a chance to bash Minnesota’s neighbors to the east, has branded a TV ad campaign for Wisconsin tourism as ‘one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever seen.’ The ads play off the 1980 disaster movie spoof ‘Airplane.’ Actor Robert Hays and former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who appeared in the film, are reunited in the cockpit of an airplane that’s flying low over scenes of Wisconsin tourism. … Dayton proceeded to joke that Minnesota should pay Wisconsin to keep the ads on the air. ‘I’ll write that on a piece of infrastructure and send it to Gov. Walker,’ Dayton said, a reference to the Wisconsin Republican governor’s publicized act of minor vandalism against Minnesotans.”

He says he’s not done yet. In the Superior News-Telegram, Maria Lockwood writes, “Chris Grover of Poplar stopped by Barker’s Island Tuesday to check on the city’s growing ice sculpture. ‘I work in Superior,’ he said. ‘Whenever I drive past it’s good to check it out. I thought it was a fantastic endeavor.’ But at 10:06 a.m. Tuesday, the 66-foot-tall structure collapsed. Within seconds, it become a pile of ice chunks. … Mother Nature has won this bout, [architect Roger “the Iceman”] Hanson said, but he’s not throwing in the towel. There’s still a 15-foot base of tumbled ice to work with. ‘I’m not done yet,’ he said. ‘I work very hard at this; I don’t give up. If there’s a chance I can make something of this, I’m going to do it.’” It is Wisconsin. Maybe he could try using Keystone Light cans.