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Minnesota businesses oppose family leave bill

Plus: the Strib opines on the Jamar Clark decision; the PCA to hold public water quality hearings; St. Paul soccer stadium legislation gets first hearing; and more.

Cam Winton of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
MinnPost file photo by Karen Boros

This of course comes as a complete surprise. Says Don Davis for the Forum News Service, “Minnesota businesses strongly oppose state legislation requiring them to join a proposed family leave insurance program. ‘This is MNsure all over again,’ Cam Winton of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce told a Senate committee Wednesday as members considered whether to mandate that many employers take part in a program to provide 12 weeks of parental leave and another 12 weeks of other types of family leave to workers.”

The Strib editorial board weighs in on the Jamar Clark decision: “The erosion of trust in law enforcement is real in some parts of our community and is rooted in incidents that predate the events of the night in November 2015 when Clark was killed. But Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau have shown over time that they are committed to improving police-community relations, building a more diverse police force prioritizing anti-bias and de-escalation training, and expanding the use of body cameras. Ringgenberg and Schwarze acted in accordance with their training and the circumstances they encountered.

A jihad on Walgreen’s? Says an AP story, “A Minnesota man accused of lying to the FBI about when he last contacted the Islamic State group was charged Tuesday in state court after allegedly threatening to ‘shoot up’ a Walgreens. Abdul Raheem Habil Ali-Skelton, 23, faces three felony counts of making terroristic threats in connection with Sunday’s incident at the store in Brooklyn Park, a Minneapolis suburb. According to the complaint, Ali-Skelton went into the store early Sunday and accused a customer of having a relationship with his girlfriend.”

Also from the AP this on police body cameras and the legislature. “More than a year into the debate over how to regulate law enforcement’s use of body cameras, a wide divide between House Republicans threatens to leave Minnesota without guidelines even as the state’s largest police department deploys the technology this year.”

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Mega-malter. And we’re not talking ice cream. At City Pages Loren Green says, “For the latter quarter of the 20th century Minnesota wasn’t a beer haven. Big names like Hamm’s, Schmidt, and Stroh’s had moved out, and the small-scale craft resurgence was only just beginning. But as breweries moved out of state, one company kept Minnesota at the fore of brewing in the United States. Rahr Malting Co. has been providing beer ingredients from Shakopee since just after Prohibition ended. And its current expansion will make it the largest single-site malting facility in North America —maybe the world.”

You there, Winston Smith, show me your phone. In the Strib, Maura Lerner reports, “Two faculty unions are up in arms over a new rule that would allow Minnesota’s state colleges and universities to inspect employee-owned cellphones and mobile devices if they’re used for work. The unions say the rule, which is set to take effect on Friday, would violate the privacy of thousands of faculty members, many of whom use their own cellphones and computers to do their jobs.”

Uh, so elk are bad for farms? Dave Orrick of the PiPress says, “Minnesota’s plan to expand the state’s elk population in far northwestern Minnesota has come under scrutiny at the Capitol. Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, is pushing a measure that would halt the expansion of the elk herd until the DNR could demonstrate that damage to farms by elk was being fully addressed. The Department of Natural Resources has ambitions for the state’s elk population, which is currently estimated to be around 130 wild animals in the far northwest part of the state.” They couldn’t possibly do as much damage as the rabbits in my backyard.

Today’s a big day for water quality. In the Duluth News Tribune, John Myers says, “The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will hold public hearings in front of a state administrative law judge Thursday on proposed changes in the state’s rules on water quality. The first hearing starts at 9 a.m. with a second at 6 p.m. in St. Paul, at the PCA headquarters, but also via video conference at the PCA offices in Duluth and Mankato. Anyone attending in Duluth or Mankato will have the opportunity to speak live by video with the administrative law judge. The changes officially adopt requirements by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to modernize water quality rules under the federal Clean Water Act.”

Also looking for “help”: Major League Soccer. Says Rachel Stassen-Berger in the PiPress, “St. Paul’s request for state help to complete a professional soccer stadium on University Avenue received its first Capitol airing Wednesday and will have its second on Thursday. The city’s request to the state, backers say, is minimal: permission for the stadium to sell booze, a sales tax exemption for construction equipment and a continuation of a property tax exemption for the site. ‘I think just in general there is stadium fatigue. But I think once members actually see the proposal, it’s pretty simple,’ said Rep. Tim Sanders, a Blaine Republican who is carrying the measure in the House. ‘I think this is actually kind of model legislation for a stadium going forward.’” Wait a minute. How many more stadiums are we expecting?

I’m guessing it wasn’t a titillating sight. Also from the Forum folks: “A rural Litchfield man has been sentenced to two years of supervised probation and ordered to build a fence after neighbors say they saw him doing chores and sunbathing outdoors while nude. According to court documents, from last May 25 to July 12, witnesses say they saw Larry Fiero, 59, sunbathing nude on his deck, picking up sticks while only wearing work boots, riding a lawn mower and bringing his garbage can to the road while completely nude. He was also charged again after washing his car naked in October.”

Let them who party pick up the tab. An MPR item says, “ … the Minnesota Senate is expected to debate a bill that would allow private fundraising to pay for a celebration of the reopening of the state Capitol. The three-year renovation project, which will cost over $300 million, should be completed next year. … The fundraising bill is authored by Republican Sen. Dave Senjem.”

May Beelzebub, in all his cloven-hoofed, secular humanist glory, bless these kids. Stribber Maura Lerner alerts the easily outraged about a new student organization up at the U of M Morris. “The newest club at the University of Minnesota Morris has all the earmarks of a college prank, starting with its name: ‘Queer Devil Worshipers for a Better Future.’ But in the past few weeks, some conservative websites have run news stories warning, as one put it, that ‘gay, capitalism-hating devil worshipers’ are waging ‘a war against conservatives on campus.’ The club, which claims all of seven members, apparently started in January when its founder, Reed Larsen, sent a campus e-mail inviting students to join.” You gotta love the Frank Luntz touch with that “For a Better Future” bit.