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Budget, bonding and legacy funding being considered for one-day special session

Plus: Minnesota’s criminal defamation law struck down; priest acquitted by Dakota County jury; Hormel buys natural food company; and more.  

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach

Right. One very long day. Says Tim Pugmire for MPR, “DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt met privately Tuesday to discuss the coming special legislative session, but a deal on three key budget bills remains elusive. … Lawmakers are also expected to take up the bonding bill and legacy bill that they failed to pass in time before adjournment. A tax bill could also be part of the mix.”

Rachel Stassen-Berger in the PiPress says, “Daudt and Dayton, who will meet again Wednesday, have said they would like lawmakers to approve three budget measures to replace the ones Dayton vetoed during that special session, as well as pass a public works borrowing bill and an appropriation of Legacy Act funds for arts and outdoors projects.”

Mother Strib is not pleased with the parking garage or the Legislature’s (annual) 11th hour frenzy. “That’s a solution so obvious that it surely would have supplanted the new garage idea during committee scrutiny — if a committee or two had been allowed to review it. That didn’t happen. The bonding bill was riding the Legislature’s ‘11th-hour express.’ Minnesotans are all for Capitol security. Most probably prefer to see their Capitol without a clutter of parked cars. What they don’t like is spending public money unnecessarily. And they’re increasingly irritated by the habit of opaque lawmaking in the final rush of a legislative session. That’s a habit legislators would be well-advised to break.” And they will, as soon as someone slides a bill in at 11:59 on adjournment day.

The Court of Appeals says the state’s defamation law is too broad. For the AP, Amy Forliti says, “The judges found Minnesota’s criminal defamation law violates the First Amendment because it allows for the prosecution of true statements, which are protected speech, as well as false statements. They also found it doesn’t require the state to prove ‘actual malice,’ knowledge that a statement is false or made with reckless disregard for the truth.” So all those political attack ads are still safe.

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In the Strib, Rochelle Olson writes, “Eugene Volokh, a prominent First Amendment lawyer at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the ruling striking down the law was ‘quite mainstream; not at all unusual.’ The Legislature could pass a new law or Minnesota could join about half of the states that don’t have criminal defamation laws, Volokh said.”   

You knew this parcel wasn’t going to last a lot longer. Kristen Leigh Painter of the Strib says, “M.A. Mortenson is looking to develop a residential and retail project on a key parcel along East Hennepin Avenue in the heart of northeast Minneapolis’ bustling commercial district, the developer confirmed Tuesday. The developer is talking with the city of Minneapolis and the Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association about a mixed-use development at 333 East Hennepin Av. … The half-block site, located on 4th Street between 1st and Hennepin Avenues, is owned by U.S. Bank. Currently, a bank branch and customer surface parking lot occupy the ­majority of the site, and a Papa John’s sits at the east corner. The current market value for the property is $1.3 million and $1 million for the land, according to Hennepin County tax records. Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop and West Photo fill the remainder of the block.”  

Sandhill cranes are getting familiar with Minnesota again. Bill Hudson at WCCO-TV says, “In all his years as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ non-game wildlife expert, [Carroll] Henderson never thought he would encounter what he observed Sunday. Standing and walking around in an expanse of lush, green grass in the wildlife area is at least 150 young sandhill cranes. Henderson says he has never seen more than a few of the paired cranes this close to the Twin Cities in all his years. One reason the cranes were attracted to Carlos Avery is very likely the controlled burns of large, grassy expanses surrounding the WMA’s wetland pools.”

Acquitted. In the Strib Stephen Montemayor reports, “In one of the first criminal trials in Minnesota on decades-old allegations of sexual abuse by a priest, a Dakota County jury on Tuesday acquitted Francis Hoefgen of criminal sexual conduct. Hoefgen, 64, is no longer a priest and lives in Columbia Heights. He had been accused of repeatedly abusing a boy who was a student at the parochial school at St. Boniface Church in Hastings between 1989 and 1992. Jurors deliberated almost four hours before returning the not-guilty verdict on both counts of criminal sexual conduct.”

Next: free-range SPAM. Martin Moylan of MPR reports, “The maker of Spam is getting into the natural foods business in a big way. Hormel announced a $775 million deal to buy Applegate Farms, a leading provider of natural and organic prepared meats. In a statement Tuesday, Hormel officials praised Applegate’s strong brand and said they do not plan to change the way the smaller firm’s meats are raised and produced.”

Let’s check the pay stubs. At City Pages, Susan Du says, “Last week, a group of janitors working in Macy’s and Herberger’s stores in Minnesota filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court alleging numerous labor violations. These workers aren’t employed by the stores — rather, they work for cleaning companies on contract with Macy’s and Herberger’s. Department stores naturally want their places cleaned on the cheap. But that forces cleaning companies to offer the lowest price possible, making the industry notorious for abusing its labor force, which consists of recent immigrants. According to the lawsuit, the system ‘allows unscrupulous subcontractors to compete for contracts by exploiting vulnerable workers.’”