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Number of women in Minnesota Senate likely to decline

Says Stribber Ricardo Lopez, “With four women state senators saying they won’t seek re-election in 2016, the share of female legislators in the Minnesota Senate could fall below 30 percent and reverse recent gains in gender parity. Assuming the outgoing senators aren’t replaced by other women, that drop would leave just 19 women in the 67-member Senate and would be most keenly felt among DFLers.”

It’s a new year and we’re still so best. For the Pioneer Press, Tad Vezner writes, “According to the organization, Minnesota has far and away the most senior housing units per elderly resident in the country: 125 housing units per 1,000 older adults, compared to the national median of 27. The next-highest state is Wisconsin, with 58 units per 1,000 older adults. In fact, AARP rated Minnesota the top state in the country on its 2014 scorecard of ‘services and support for older residents’ (Kentucky and Alabama scored worst).”

Hell hath no fury like a Ragnar scorned. Ben Goessling at ESPN reports, “Joe Juranitch — the Ely, Minnesota, man who portrayed Ragnar for 21 years, clad in a fur top and a horned helmet as he charged out of the Vikings’ tunnel at the Metrodome on a motorcycle — appeared on Fox Sports 1’s NFL pregame show Sunday morning, opening up a package he said was from the Green Bay Packers. In the segment filmed in the snowy northern Minnesota woods, Juranitch shed his Viking helmet for a cheesehead. ‘It kind of has a nice feel to it,’ Juranitch said, before signing off with, ‘Well, I’ve got to go — as in, ‘Go Pack Go.'”

Boo ya! Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “Holders of two lottery tickets are this year’s newest millionaires — minus taxes, of course. The game is Minnesota Millionaire Raffle, and the $1 million winning numbers drawn on New Year’s Day were on $10 tickets bought at the SuperAmerica at 1847 Johnson Av. NE. in Minneapolis and at the River Country Cooperative at 14610 E. 240th St. in Hastings, lottery officials announced.”

Ratcheting up for the legislative session Rachel Stassen-Berger of the PiPress says, “We’ve put together this 2016 political calendar and tip sheet of key dates: Jan. 15 — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is legally mandated to release his proposal for statewide borrowing. Expect this bonding proposal to be too big and too porky for some, and expect Dayton to repeat that infrastructure investment is needed and note all the projects he did not include. … March 8 — The Legislature is back in session. Democrats and Republicans will wrestle over all the usual issues — taxes, spending, transportation, education and borrowing — and will toss in a few less-common battles as well. Expect talk of (and possible action on) sentencing, police and prison reform, Real ID, walleyes, Iron Range unemployment and racial achievement gaps in education.”

Kyle Potter at the AP is on to the same thing, saying, “The state’s unemployment rate has hit post-recession lows, but state officials are keying in on two groups who are still hurting: minority populations and laid-off steelworkers. Miners out of work due to a tide of closures on the Iron Range have a prime spot on a possible special session agenda, as Dayton aims to extend their unemployment insurance. … Dayton set a high bar for tapping into the budget surplus to plow more money into expanding broadband Internet access — $100 million. The proposal quickly fueled renewed talk among lawmakers and their constituents about helping get rural communities better Internet service.”

Who said “high-speed”? Julio Ojeda-Zapata of the PiPress writes, “Comcast now is giving Twin Cities’ residential customers a glimmer of hope that the speed situation will improve over the next year or two. The company says it has begun testing a mainstream 1-gig option that it said will eventually make its way to the Twin Cities. And for home users who just can’t wait, and are willing to pay a eye-popping premium of $300 a month, Comcast last month debuted a new Gigabit Pro tier with download and upload speeds of 2 gigabits a second.” They started promising this … when?

Also via the AP, Steve Karnowski looks ahead and says, “Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr plans to decide ‘about February’ whether to certify as adequate the final environmental impact statement on the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine. He has already said he expects to approve the 3,576-page document. Once he does and federal agencies sign off, PolyMet Mining Corp. plans to quickly start applying for the permits it needs to build Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine. Environmentalists are expected to fight the permits, and the dispute could end up in court. PolyMet says it hopes to start mining in 2018.”

For the Forum News Service, columnist Mike McFeely writes about the latest rise in the cigarette tax. “It was meant to make people, especially young people, think twice before buying another pack of Marlboros. It is another fact that this strategy is working. Minnesotans who smoke are poorer because of high cigarette taxes, they are unhappy about that … and they are smoking less because of it. ClearWay of Minnesota, a leading anti-smoking group, says that one of its surveys shows the 2013 tax increase was a direct factor in reducing the state’s smoking rate to a historic low of 14 percent. ClearWay also says the rate of smoking among high schoolers has plummeted dramatically to 10 percent. One in 10 high school kids smoking. Is there anybody left to sneak across the street for a covert puff?”

Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune says, “Sen. Roger Reinert said he arrived at his decision on whether to run for another term next year largely as a result of time spent on the trail — but not the campaign trail. ‘I go on really long road or trail runs. And when I do, I think my subconscious really chews on things, while the working of my body occupies my conscious mind. At least for me, that hour after a run, I have a lot of clarity around things,’ he told the News Tribune. Duluth’s senior state legislator likened the time he spends running to ‘prayer and meditation,’ saying it helped him make big decisions — such as choosing to step out of politics at the end of 2016.”

Kelly Smith of the Strib says, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes ended 2015 with the highest number of boating fatalities in a decade, an unhappy by-product of an otherwise ideal spring, summer and fall. The year closed out with 18 boating-related deaths — the most since 23 people died in 2005, according to preliminary numbers from the state Department of Natural Resources.”

Welcome to St. Paul. Says Peter Cox for MPR, “The city of St. Paul will increase parking enforcement hours and some rates starting Monday. Meters will now be enforced from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Metered spots in downtown St. Paul used to be free after 5 p.m. The price of parking will go up to a flat rate of $2 an hour until 6 p.m.”

In a wheelchair. Says Kristi Belcamino for the PiPress: “A man was struck and killed by a Blue Line train Sunday night in South Minneapolis, police said. According to Metro Transit Police spokesman Howie Padilla, the man, who was in a wheelchair, was with at least one other person when he was struck by a northbound train near East 32nd Street around 6 p.m. Sunday.”

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 01/04/2016 - 08:05 am.

    ClearWay Minnesota is right about the cig tax

    Health organizations told state lawmakers that raising the price of a pack of cigarettes would reduce youth smoking, and it has worked. Adult smoking also continues to decline in Minnesota. That’s good news for the New Year.

  2. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 01/04/2016 - 09:44 am.

    Caurion: Sky Falling

    While Grand Avenue retailers played Chicken Little, telling one and all that the sky WOULD fall if parking were metered, little was heard from downtown establishments.

    If every restaurant in Lowertown does not close in the next year, we can re-visit the gran Avenue situation. I know if I had to plunk down a whooping 50 cents or $1 to park at Northern Brewer, I would definitely not be driving another 10 miles one way to the next home brew store.

    And for the record, metered downtown parking in the evening will effect me, and I do support it.

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