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State Senate blocks move to take away tax subsidies for 2018 Super Bowl

Plus: Not guilty plea in St. Croix River stabbing; a Minneapolis connection to Texas cartoon festival shooting; Minnesota utilities hail first big transmission line expansion in decades; and more. 

Minnesota Vikings

Apparently Sen. Bakk wasn’t having it. Bill Salisbury of the PiPress writes, “Tax breaks for the 2018 Super Bowl in Minnesota are safe — at least for now. The Minnesota Senate on Monday rejected two attempts to scrap tax subsidies for the National Football League’s biggest event. During a debate on a major tax bill, senators defeated, 35-31, an amendment proposed by Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, to repeal a sales tax exemption on game tickets under a law dating from the 1992 Super Bowl in Minneapolis. Dibble argued pro football’s wealthy owners don’t really need that $9.5 million tax break. ‘This feels good, doesn’t it,’ Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, sarcastically told the amendment’s supporters. Although the tax subsidy is unpopular, he warned it was part of the state’s successful bid to land the game.” To answer the question. Yes.

This bird flu business is getting expensive. Don Davis for the Forum News Service says, “Minnesota representatives responded to avian flu Monday by seeking more money to fight the growing outbreak and giving farmers assistance. On the day that state officials announced that more than 5 million birds have died or will be euthanized due to the flu, the House accepted proposals to increase flu spending as part of an overall agriculture funding bill. … While the federal government reimburses farmers for birds they euthanize, lawmakers opted to also provide low-interest loans for them to recover from the outbreak. Farmers would be eligible for up to $200,000 of loans to repopulate flocks, develop better security and improve infrastructure of poultry facilities.”

In cold blood. Paul Walsh and Matt McKinney of the Strib continue coverage of the murder of an elderly southwest Minnesota couple. “A gunman bent on burglary killed a longtime southwestern Minnesota farmer and his wife in their home and stole a car, then the shooter returned the next day with two others and set the home ablaze with his victims still inside, according to charges filed Monday. … As the house burned, four members of the Balaton volunteer fire department came to the scene in their personal vehicles and kept a distance away as their colleagues fought the flames. All had the last name Hively.”

Nicole Hovatter of the Forum News Service says, “A 20-year-old Balaton, Minn., man tied to the shooting of Daniel Scheff in July near Granite Falls, Minn., is now alleged to have murdered two people last week in their Balaton home. … According to news archives, Hexum was sentenced in December in Yellow Medicine County District Court on a felony conviction of aiding an offender to avoid arrest for his role in the shooting of Scheff last year near Granite Falls. Derek Hexum was sentenced to 213 days of jail and a one-year stayed prison sentence, which was maximum sentence provided under sentencing guidelines.”

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And in this one … the wrong place at the wrong time. For the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Meg Jones writes, “A father and his 11-year-old daughter were among the three people killed when a man upset over a broken engagement opened fire Sunday night in the east-central Wisconsin city of Menasha, police said at a news conference Monday. The gunman, identified as Sergio Daniel Valencia del Toro, 27, then shot and killed himself on the Trestle Trail Bridge, police said. The three killed by the gunman were identified by police as Johnathan Stoffel, 33, his daugther, Olivia Stoffel, 11, and Adam Bentdahl, 31. … The Stoffel family — mom, dad, and three young children — was enjoying a beautiful spring Sunday evening on the bridge connecting the town and city of Menasha when their path tragically crossed that of Valencia del Toro’s.”

Also in serious trouble is 19 year-old Levi Acre-Kendall. Chao Xiong of the Strib reports, “A Minnesota man pleaded not guilty Monday to fatally stabbing a fisherman along the St. Croix River last month after an hourslong dispute between two groups of men. Levi Acre-Kendall, 19, of Cambridge, pleaded not guilty in Polk County Circuit Court to first-degree reckless homicide in the April 14 death of Peter S. Kelly. … Acre-Kendall’s friends told authorities that the stabbing occurred when Kelly tried to pull Acre-Kendall out of a car.”

Also in crime, a Minnesota connection to the attack on that cartoon “festival” in Texas.  Laura Yuen and Mukhtar Ibrahim of MPR report, “Days before it happened, an al-Shabab militant from Minneapolis called for an attack against the Texas contest whose participants drew cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Two gunmen opened fire outside the event on Sunday. The cartoon contest, billed as a free-speech event but sponsored by an organization that is seen as an anti-Muslim hate group, had hired numerous security guards. The attackers were killed, and one guard was wounded. In posts on social media, the al-Shabab militant, Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, called on his ‘brothers’ to carry out attacks similar to those in France earlier this year.”

Heh. City Pages’ Cory Zurowski continues his surveillance of Second District Rep. John Kline. “Predatory lenders salivate when a service member signs loan papers, a report last year by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau showed. In one instance, a soldier spent almost $1,430 to pay off a $485 loan in just six months. Congress has long been aware that thousands of service members annually fall victim to short-term, high-interest loans. Last week, the House Armed Services Committee voted to move forward with a Department of Defense plan to expand protections for the nation’s military men and women from predatory lenders. But in keeping with tradition, John Kline, Minnesota’s Most Reprehensible Congressman (TM) and a retired Marine colonel, voted against his military brethren. … Bowing to pressure from the banking lobby, Kline and 29 other members sought to give lenders another 12 months of free rein — even though the issue has been before the committee since 2006.” Hey! Those bills are hundreds of pages long! It takes time to read all that mumbo-jumbo.

For what it’s worth, or until we win the Super Bowl,’s Rich Exner writes, “If the pre-draft player ratings are to be believed, the Cleveland Browns were in the top third of the league for getting value from their high-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. Ultimately, of course, the true value of the players chosen won’t be known for months, or even years. But for a quick snapshot of how the Browns and the other NFL teams drafted, I  compared where the players were selected during the first four rounds with a pre-draft ranking of players from of … The best draft, using this method of calculation, was conducted by the Minnesota Vikings.” So is he saying maybe 9-7?

CAPX2020 is good to go. The Strib’s Dave Shaffer says, “The Minnesota electric power industry is wrapping up its biggest transmission line expansion in four decades. Executives of Xcel Energy Inc., Great River Energy and other utilities on Monday dedicated the two longest segments, spanning nearly 500 miles, of the cross-state power line project known as CapX2020. It was cheered by a leader in the wind power industry who attended the ceremony at an Xcel substation near St. Cloud built for the new, 240-mile power line between Fargo and Monticello. ‘Transmission was the glass ceiling — we couldn’t get enough transmission capacity for wind,’ said Beth Soholt, executive director of St. Paul-based Wind on the Wires, an industry trade group.”