Dayton considers halting state-funded travel to Indiana

Dayton joins the fray over Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law.  Write the Pioneer Press’ Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Frederick Melo: “Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is considering joining Democratic governors from Connecticut, Washington and New York in halting state-funded travel to Indiana, given that state’s controversial religious freedom act. ‘I deplore what they did,’ Dayton said of the law. Opponents see the law as allowing open discrimination against gays and lesbians. Backers say it protects believers from being forced to use their businesses in ways that are contrary to their beliefs. The law has created a national backlash, including reaction from household names such as Target and Apple, and forced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and the legislature in that state to promises fixes to the law.”

Speaking of Indiana: Allison Sherry of the Strib notes that Sen. Al Franken “urged the late-night stand up comic David Letterman to run for U.S. Senate on Wednesday … . In the senator’s first appearance on ‘The Late Show’ since he was first elected in 2008, Franken talked about the controversy in Indiana surrounding a newly passed law, signed by the Republican governor, which critics say allows people or businesses to discriminate, or refuse to serve, individuals because they’re gay.  Letterman, an Indiana native, said he was distressed about the news and asked Franken what he could do to make the current governor, Mike Pence, ‘uncomfortable.’”

In the PiPress, Doug Beldon has a story about an issue state lawmakers seem intent on avoiding as long as possible: the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. “A task force, a detailed audit and a federal judge have all told the Minnesota Legislature its sex offender program needs an overhaul. Yet, with a ruling from a federal trial just months away, lawmakers have been unable to agree on any major program fixes. Minnesota’s sex offender program is designed to civilly commit the worst offenders to state security hospitals, where they are to receive treatment for their illnesses. Critics have long complained that the program is unconstitutional. Advocates on both sides made their cases in U.S. District Court in St. Paul in a trial challenging the constitutionality of the program. Testimony ended in mid-March, and a judge expected to rule on the case this summer has already warned the program cannot remain the same.”

Liz Sawyer and Mary Lynn Smith have the latest on Jennifer Houle, the U of M student who has been missing since last Friday: “Water rescuers with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday pulled the body of an adult woman from the Mississippi River near the 10th Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis. Although the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office has not yet officially identified the body, Jennifer Houle’s father said he’s sure it’s his daughter. ‘We want to thank law enforcement, all the Hennepin County sheriff’s [deputies], the Minneapolis police … and all the compassion they’ve shown to us,’ John Houle said in an interview Wednesday night. … Officials had not determined if Houle had fallen or jumped from the bridge, but the footage showed she was alone at the time of the incident, said police spokesman John Elder.”

The Glean

One April Fool’s joke that went awry, writes the Mankato Free Press’ Dan Nienaber: “A comment on social media that someone apparently thought was an April Fools’ Day joke between two people turned into an unnecessary drain on public safety resources Wednesday morning. Mankato police officers were contacted by Minnesota State University security officers just after 2 a.m. Wednesday and made aware of a Twitter comment implying there was a bomb at the Memorial Library on campus. … The person who sent the Twitter message told police and campus security officers that he thought the information could only be seen by one person, Clifton said. It was seen by others and someone called campus security to see if officers there were aware of the Tweet.”

The foreigners did it. MPR’s Jon Collins offers some more details on  the layoffs by U.S. Steel up on the Range: “Politicians and mining company officials are blaming unfair foreign competition for more than a thousand recent layoffs in the state’s iron ore industry. U.S. Steel announced Tuesday that it would idle part of its taconite plant in Mountain Iron, Minn., starting on June 1. Earlier last month U.S. Steel announced plans to idle a plant in Keewatin, which will result in more than 400 layoffs. Magnetation also recently announced that it was closing an Iron Range plant and laying off more than 40 people. The closing of plants and mills comes from a glut of steel supplies and the steady decline of prices over the last few months.”

Josephine Marcotty writes for the Strib about new federal protections for long-eared bats: “Starting this summer, the timber industry in Minnesota and elsewhere will have to keep a sharp eye out for the trees where northern long-eared bats are born, according to a proposal announced Wednesday that would provide the bat some protections under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to list the northern long-eared bat as threatened, not endangered, in order to keep ahead of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that is sweeping west across the country and taking out 90 percent or more of the bats it encounters along the way.”

The Strib’s Rachel Blount writes about Lindsey Vonn’s kinda-sorta homecoming: “The ski season ended on March 22, but Afton Alps was still dressed for winter when a favorite daughter arrived for a visit Wednesday. On an 82-degree day, a coat of well-packed snow stubbornly clung to the hill, while a cozy fire awaited Lindsey Vonn in the chalet. Vonn had come to her home state to rekindle memories of last winter, meeting with the girls who had participated in a ski camp she designed. Like the Afton resort, she wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the snowy season, either. After two years scarred by a pair of major knee surgeries and long recoveries, Vonn climbed back to the top of the World Cup mountain, winning season titles in downhill and super-G and breaking the record for most career victories by a woman.”

Forget the Final Four, Dennis J. McGrath of the Star Tribune reports on a Minnesotan’s bid to take home the national chess championship: “A grandmaster from Minnetonka began his bid for the U.S. Chess Championship on Wednesday with a victory in the first round, converting what appeared to be a dead draw into an easily won position. Wesley So, a 21-year-old Filipino who moved to Minnetonka last fall as he launched his professional chess career, is one of the favorites in the 12-player tournament that will crown the national champion. In the opening round at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, he defeated Daniel Naroditsky, a 19-year-old grandmaster from California.”

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Carol Flynn on 04/02/2015 - 02:55 pm.

    Indiana

    I keep wondering why we don’t discourage travel to all those states that discriminate against women? Minnesota snowbirds keep spending money in Arizona and Texas where they keep thinking of new ways to limit our freedom. I doubt there are many conferences in South Dakota but it should be off our public travel list too
    .

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