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Real ID may cost Minnesota $5 million

Plus: Vikings to open U.S. Bank Stadium against Packers; Bakk warns county commissioners about banning copper mining in BWCA; 35 Minnesota lawmakers sign letter supporting North Carolina’s transgender bathroom restrictions; and more.

Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services
An example of a Minnesota driver’s license, above, and an
enhanced ID, below.

Pretty soon this’ll add up to real money. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Pioneer Press says, “Freed from a gag rule on planning for federal Real ID driver’s license standards, the Minnesota Public Safety Department reported Thursday that it could cost the state more than $5 million for the state to adopt the rules this year. In a report, prepared for lawmakers to discuss Friday, the agency released a list of costs and steps needed for Minnesota driver’s licenses to be considered secure enough for federal officials to accept them at airport security lines and other federal uses.” But it’ll be such a relief to know we have one during the 90-minute wait to get past TSA.

At KSTP-TV, Kevin Doran says, “Eric Waage is the director of Hennepin County Emergency Management and says siren fatigue can be deadly. The county has 263 warning sirens that are turned on the first Wednesday of each month and tested silently six times a week.  Last Tuesday, the outdoor sirens in Hennepin County all sounded at 6:11 a.m. during a silent test in what authorities are calling a technical glitch. They say that has never happened before and that the issue has since been fixed. Waage says siren fatigue happens when people hear them too often or at different times.” If it isn’t the zombie apocalypse the next time that thing goes off, I’m never even looking out the window again.

Super Bowl! ESPN’s Ben Goessling says, “The Minnesota Vikings wanted a headlining opponent for their first game at U.S. Bank Stadium, and all along, they’ve had one team in particular at the top of their list: the Green Bay Packers. It sounds as though the Vikings will get their wish. Two league sources told ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and me the Packers will be in Minneapolis in Week 2, in what’s expected to be the first regular-season game at the Vikings’ $1.1 billion new home.” Big prize to the first Viking fan who talks Olivia Munn into wearing Helga braids.

But is there still money for policing rampant voter fraud? The AP story says, “House Republicans are reviving cost-reduction measures in a second budget go-around, detailing their plans Thursday to cut state agency commissioner salaries, freeze public employee hiring and suspend Minnesota’s public campaign subsidy program. The legislative deja vu comes as state lawmakers work out how to spend a $900 million surplus. The cost-cutting proposals were part of the GOP’s budget framework last year but were tossed out during negotiations with Democrats. The latest move by House Republicans adds disputable elements to opposing surplus-spending plans of Republicans and Democrats in charge of the Legislature.” There’s never a deficit of “disputable elements.”

The Bemidji Pioneer says, “The Bemidji area is included in an air pollution advisory because of fires across eastern Kansas and Nebraska. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Thursday afternoon issued an air pollution health advisory for western Minnesota 8 a.m. Friday. The affected area includes Mankato, Hutchinson, St. Cloud, Marshall, Willmar, Detroit Lakes, Brainerd, Bemidji and Thief River Falls. Air quality monitors indicate a narrow plume of smoke stretching from western and northwest Iowa into western Minnesota.”

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Kristi Marohn of the St. Cloud Times writes, “Several legislators from Central Minnesota have signed a letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory voicing their support for his state’s new restrictions on transgender bathroom use. The letter, signed by 35 members of the House and Senate, was a response to Gov. Mark Dayton’s ban on non-essential state travel to North Carolina to protest the law. Among the signers were Reps. Jim Newberger of Becker and Sondra Erickson of Princeton, and Sens. Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake, Bruce Anderson of Buffalo and Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake. All are Republicans.” I did not see that coming.

Likewise, this one. Jeremy Olson in the Strib reports, “Minnesota clinics are twice as likely to help privately insured patients overcome depression symptoms within six months than low-income patients covered by state-subsidized Medicaid plans, according to a new state report that scrutinized racial and socioeconomic gaps in medicine last year. The success rate in either population isn’t great … But the disparity indicates additional challenges or needs among. low-income Minnesotans that many clinics aren’t addressing.”

Says Don Davis for the Forum News Servce, “A celebration is planned for the fall of 2017 to celebrate the re-opening of the Minnesota Capitol. … The celebration planned for next year received the House’s blessing Thursday on a 107-22 vote. It’s cost is estimated at $400,000 to be covered private donations. The Senate already passed the bill, sending it to Gov. Mark Dayton for his expected signature.” Two free drinks and grape salad for every taxpayer!

This time it’s the real deadline. Dee DePass of the Strib says, “Gov. Mark Dayton gave the controversial Essar Steel Minnesota a two-month window to get its financial house in order or he will not renew Minnesota mineral leases for Essar’s unfinished $1.8 billion taconite project in Nashwauk, Minn.”

Also getting tough: Tom Bakk. J. Patrick Coolican and Josephine Marcotty of the Strib say, “State Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk warned county commissioners in northeastern Minnesota that they would risk losing state money if they passed a resolution to ban copper mining inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA). The issue erupted earlier this week after a Cook County commissioner proposed a nonbinding resolution backing DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s opposition to copper mining in the sensitive wilderness area.” If this were a movie someone would look up and ask, “Are you threatening me?”