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Nerf toys may have played a role in Lakeville crash

Plus: medical marijuana expansion depends on ‘intractable’; state law to compensate the falsely imprisoned; Gophers headed to the Quick Lane Bowl; and more.

On that crash in Lakeville that killed two popular students, the AP says: “Nerf wars are battles between two or more players using the toy guns that fire foam bullets. Players can play as individuals or on teams, and players who are hit are declared out. The games can be played in backyards, indoors or wooded areas. Authorities plan to examine the pickup on Monday. The search could turn up evidence of whether Nerf Wars was being played at the time, [Dakota County Sheriff Tim] Leslie said, adding that ‘there are allegations that there are Nerf guns in the car. I don’t know that.’ The truck’s computer ‘brain’ will tell investigators ‘how fast, when the brakes were touched’ and other details about the pickup’s movements leading up to and during the crash, Leslie said.”

Good question. What would you or anyone mean by “intractable,” exactly? The AP’s Kyle Potter says, “One word carries a lot of weight in Minnesota health officials’ decision to expand its medical marijuana to pain patients: intractable. The state’s definition of what qualifies as ‘intractable pain’ has big implications starting in August for how many new people will begin buying via the state program.”

Gas it up. Says John Myers in the Duluth News Tribune: “Minnesota Power is moving forward with plans to build a major natural gas-fired power plant, accepting bids through January from multiple companies in an ongoing push to move away from coal. The utility is expected to negotiate with multiple bidders in 2016 for the plant which could be built anywhere in the Upper Midwest — not necessarily in northern Minnesota, but within the Midwest electric grid system, company officials said. Specifications require the proposals to be between 200 and 400 megawatts, and the facility — essentially a large gas turbine that would fire to create electricity when demand requires — will cost from $300 million to $400 million to build.”

Here’s the Strib’s Abby Simons on Minnesota’s new law compensating former inmates for wrongful imprisonment. “[Roger Lee] Olsen is among three wrongfully imprisoned Minnesotans who will receive compensation under a new state law that makes him eligible for payment for the time lost behind bars and an array of other damages, like physical and psychological injury. Minnesota is the 30th state to adopt this type of legislation, but the state is also among the most progressive.”

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The Governor will be under the knife at Mayo this morning, WCCO-TV says: “Gov. Mark Dayton’s office said Sunday that he will undergo elective lower back surgery on Monday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. … Officials say he will have surgery at 7:30 a.m. Monday and it’s expected to take two to three hours. He expects to resume his regular schedule after about a week.”

We, that is to say “they” could be hunting wolves again, soon. The AP says, “A Minnesota congressman says a push is underway to include language in a catchall spending bill to return responsibility for managing wolf populations in the western Great Lakes region to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Courts have overturned federal efforts to remove the region’s wolves from the endangered list. The legislation would bypass the courts. U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., says he’s optimistic the provision will make it into the bill, which is expected out next week, but says it’s not a done deal.”

The Glean

We’re No. 5! This morning’s list of best states has us trailing Massachusetts and … New Jersey? Thomas C. Frohlich and Michael B. Sauter for 24/7 Wall St say, “As in most states with low poverty rates and high incomes, the average Minnesota resident will enjoy a relatively long life. The state has one of the lowest poverty rates in the country, 4 percentage points below the national rate of 15.5 percent. The life expectancy at birth in Minnesota of 81.1 years is slightly higher than the national life expectancy of 78.9 years. An education helps improve access to the job market, and states with high college attainment rates also often have low unemployment rates. In Minnesota, more than one in three adults have a college degree, one of the highest proportions in the nation. Minnesota’s unemployment rate of 3.8% is one of the lowest jobless rates in the nation.” Bayonne and Elizabeth must be a lot nicer than the last time I was through there.

If you’re one of those people who just cannot let the Vikings stadium deal pass out of your system (and I know the feeling), Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times has a good read on current negotiations involving three different teams moving to L.A.: “The clock is winding down on the likelihood of the NFL’s return to Los Angeles by the 2016 season, and the situation is as murky as ever. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is proposing a stadium in Inglewood, and the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are backing a competing plan in Carson. … Several owners and executives not connected with the Rams find the St. Louis plan lacking and were unconvinced last week by backers of that proposal. Some have pointed to the better deal the Minnesota Vikings got — with the public footing half the cost of a new stadium — from a bigger market.”

No plans for a sports vacation getaway over the holiday week? You think maybe Vegas, Orlando, Miami? No? Well, how about … Detroit? Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press says, “The Gophers will play Central Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 28 in Detroit. The Gophers (5-7) were able to compete in a bowl game when only 77 of a necessary 80 teams reached bowl eligibility with six victories. Minnesota will be making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance. Central Michigan (7-5) lost 24-13 to Oklahoma State and 30-10 to Michigan State, which is in the College Football Playoff.” Take my word for it, that’s a long ways from Pasadena.