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Lawmakers propose ignition interlock for all DWI offenders in Minnesota

Plus: Minnesota is the third best state for doctors; state adds more mobile mental health crisis teams; U of M’s women’s basketball star Rachel Banham named first-team All-American; and more.

So “Whisky Plates” aren’t the deterrent we’d hoped for? In the Pioneer Press, Marino Eccher says, “Citing the potential to stop millions of drunken drivers before they get on the road, a group of Minnesota lawmakers wants to mandate the use of ignition interlock devices for all drunken-driving offenders. The devices, which prevent a car from starting without a sober breath sample, are currently required only for drivers who offend at least three times and optional for others under a complex set of rules as an alternative to losing their driver’s license.”

We can’t give in to the international communist conspiracy. For KARE-TV, Melissa Colorado says, “A nationwide coalition named Engage Cuba, which represents private businesses that have a lot to gain from an end to the embargo, claims Minnesota farmers can benefit economically by increased U.S. exports to Cuba, particularly when it comes to corn, soybeans, and barley. With the tourism industry booming in Cuba, [Sen. Amy] Klobuchar argues the country will have extra revenue to buy more exports. ‘As American tourists start coming over,’ said Klobuchar, ‘we’re going start to have a problem because we’re going to lose that business, and it’ll all be going to European countries, and China, Venezuela, other places.’”

Never mind Mayo. We’re only No. 3! For the Rochester Post-Bulletin Brett Boese writes, “Minnesota landed third on WalletHub’s new ‘2016 Best States for a Doctor’ list that was released Monday. The list was created by judging 11 categories, with the most weight being given to ‘opportunity and competition’ and ‘medical quality.’ Minnesota finished 17th and first in those categories en route to third overall. Minnesota was one of four states in the Upper Midwest to finish high on the list. Iowa was second, North Dakota was fourth, Wisconsin was eighth and South Dakota landed 12th. Of particular note, WalletHub’s report says that Minnesota has the second-lowest malpractice award payouts per capita, the second-lowest expensive malpractice liability insurance.” So does adding allthose together make us No. 1?

A Planned Parenthood executive for the Upper Midwest, Sarah Stoesz, says in a Star Tribune commentary, “Last week, Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives — 40 of them, including some in the House leadership — introduced two bills that would make Planned Parenthood ineligible for Title X funding, the federal family planning program that began in 1972 through bipartisan legislation … Congress tried to do this on the federal level multiple times last summer. It failed. Now it seems politicians are driving this ‘defund Planned Parenthood’ effort state by state — and it has arrived in Minnesota.” 

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Hey! Jobs, jobs, jobs. For the Forum News Service, Tu-Uyen Tran reports, “The Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion will cost more than $2.1 billion, a Diversion Authority official said Monday, March 28. Darrell Vanyo, who chairs the authority board, said a formal presentation will be made Thursday, March 31, but even then the financial forecast will not be complete for some time, meaning the authority won’t know exactly what its share of the project is. The last time anyone estimated the the cost of the massive flood-protection project was in 2011 when it was priced at $1.8 billion, which is about $1.9 billion in today’s dollars.” But let’s wait until after the next 1000 Year Flood.

Dang! And I was fixin’ to can up some Toe Jam Marmalade. Mr. Eccher also says, “The lawnmower racing, toilet seat horsehoes, ‘armpit serenade’ and other attractions of the inaugural Minnesota Redneck Festival will have to wait until next year. The festival, originally scheduled for this May in Aitkin, Minn., before a scheduling conflict for an event to honor a slain sheriff’s deputy came to light, will now be June 3-5, 2017.”

I guess it was better than leaving the kids back at the cook shack. Says Stribber Paul Walsh, “Two Twin Cities mothers were arrested after bringing their children to an illicit drug deal outside a central Minnesota gas station on a weekday afternoon, according to authorities. … Arrested in an SUV on suspicion of ‘selling a large quantity’ of methamphetamine and prescription drugs were Jamie Sue Tapia Morrow, 30, of Brooklyn Park, and Sara S. Harrison, 28, of Minneapolis, law enforcement said in a statement released Friday. Concerned about being caught, Tapia Morrow told her 13-year-old daughter in the SUV ‘to put (the drugs) in her bra’

Says MPR’s Lorna Benson, “The Minnesota Department of Human Services has awarded an additional $3 million to add seven more mobile mental health crisis teams in the state. These rapid-response professionals offer services to help people experiencing psychiatric emergencies, no matter where they’re located. Human services department Deputy Commissioner Chuck Johnson said mobile crisis teams respond rapidly to adults or children in crisis and help link them to mental health services.”

How not to make friends. Mukhtar Ibrahim at MPR says, “Federal prosecutors say there’s evidence a St. Paul imam serving on the defense team in one of the Minnesota ISIS terror cases appears to have preaching about jihad. In court documents, the government said a ‘co-conspirator’ made the claims against St. Paul Imam Hassan Mohamud, who’s been acting as a law clerk for the defense of Mohamed Farah. Hassan Mohamud has been critical of the ISIS prosecutions and the government’s anti-terror program, nationally called Countering Violent Extremism but known locally as Building Community Resilience.”

I’d think this would be a slam dunk. The AP says, “Rachel Banham was named to the Associated Press All-America first team Monday, capping a season where the Gophers senior guard came back from a knee injury that caused her to miss most of last season. She was joined on the first team by UConn’s Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson; Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell; and South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson. None of the five All-Americas had a harder road to making the team than Banham, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL suffered in December 2014.”

Strib columnist Jon Tevlin assesses county attorney Mike Freeman’s predicament. “Freeman’s task is one that people in his position have historically rejected because there are essentially two possible outcomes: If he charges police with a crime, he is sure to anger police officers and their union, the very people who provide him with the evidence he needs to do his job. If he declines to charge, he angers civil rights activists and community members who have put him in this spot by arguing against grand juries, which rarely indict police. The sound thing, the sane thing, would have been to push the decision to a grand jury of 23 citizens and wash your hands of the outcome.”