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Federal scientist accuses USDA of retaliation over bee-pesticide research

Plus: 42% of Minneapolis workers lack paid sick leave; Bottineau light rail costs projected at $1.48 billion; low corn and soybean prices will cost farmers; Minnesota Sex Offender Program; and more.

Is the USDA trying to silence research on harm caused by pesticides? Entomologist Jonathan Lundgren thinks so. MPR’s Dan Gunderson reports: “A top federal bee scientist from South Dakota says he’s being punished for publicizing work on pesticides and pollinators. … Jonathan Lundgren’s research found bees and monarch butterflies can be harmed by a widely used class of insecticides. In a whistleblower case filed Wednesday, the United States Agriculture Department entomologist alleges he faced retaliation because of his research. … ‘Once he started publishing this work, he went from golden boy to pariah, and that’s what this case is about,’ said Jeff Ruch, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which is representing Lundgren in his complaint to a federal whistleblower protection board.”

Some more context for the Working Families Agenda debate. Erin Golden writes in the Star Tribune: “About 123,000 Minneapolis workers don’t have access to paid sick leave, according to a new analysis from the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research. … The report, released Thursday, says that number amounts to about 42 percent of Minneapolis residents ages 18 and older. It also notes that Hispanic workers are the least likely to have sick time, with 68 percent lacking access to paid leave. By contrast, 49 percent of black workers, 42 percent of Asian workers and 37 percent of white workers don’t have paid sick time.”

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OMG think how many potholes that money could fix. The Star Tribune’s Janet Moore has the latest on choo-choo costs: “ The price tag for the next light-rail transit project in the Twin Cities, linking Minneapolis to the northern suburbs, has increased by nearly $500 million and now stands at $1.48 billion. … Members of a Metropolitan Council advisory committee will be briefed Thursday on the new cost of the 13-mile Bottineau Blue Line Extension, which would run from Target Field to Brooklyn Park. … Met Council Chairman Adam Duininck acknowledged Wednesday ‘there might be an immediate reaction to the number.’

Farmers basically paying for the privilege of growing corn and soybeans at this point. For Inforum, Tu-Uyen Tran reports, “Farmers in the region again face low corn and soybean prices as they approach the end of harvest, which means spending into the reserves they built up during the good years. … ‘We’re probably going to pay most of the bills, but there certainly isn’t going to be much for family living at the end of the year,’ said Kevin Skunes, a board member with the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. ‘So we’ll have to borrow more money and hope the next year is better.’ ”

In anticipation of Judge Donovan Frank’s orders in the case, the New York Times takes a look at Minnesota’s sex-offender program. Monica Davey writes, “Behind razor wire and locked metal doors, hundreds of men waited on a recent morning to be counted, part of the daily routine inside a remote facility here that was built based on a design for a prison. … But this is not a prison, and most of these men — rapists, pedophiles and other sex offenders — have already completed their sentences. They are being held here indefinitely under a policy known as civil commitment, having been deemed ‘sexually dangerous’ or ‘sexual psychopathic personalities’ by courts. The intent, the authorities say, is to provide treatment to the most dangerous sex offenders until it is safe for the public for them to go home.”

In other news…

“Minn. State Employee Contracts in Limbo After Split-party Vote” [KSTP]

“American Indian Movement co-founder’s granddaughter missing from Bemidji” [Duluth News Tribune]

You can’t make this up: Wisconsin considering legalizing blaze pink hunting gear to “encourage more women to take up hunting.” Bill authored by two dudes, natch. [Chicago Tribune]

Shine On You Crazy Bald Man: “Bald Man Brewing plans $1.2M brewery and taproom in Eagan” [Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal]

The kittens are independent contractors and don’t receive benefits: “Coming to the Twin Cities today: Uber delivers kittens” [Pioneer Press]