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Little optimism among Minnesota legislators as session winds down

Plus: Minnesota men accused of trying to join ISIS go on trial; Minneapolis pushing organics recycling; U of M men’s basketball player arrested; and more.

This is the phase of the game where expectations are so low it’ll be a cause for cheer if they do anything at all. Kyle Potter for the AP says, “With just two weeks remaining to sort out broad deals on tax relief, transportation funding and other spending plans, Minnesota’s Legislature is locked in a stare down. Legislative leaders will begin their private discussions to work out a roadmap to bring the session to a tidy end this week. But the major partisan gaps between proposals, combined with one major bill’s surprise failure on the Senate floor, have left many top lawmakers with dire hopes.”

Anything else is a step down. In the Star Tribune, Mike Hughlett says, “Cargill can lay claim to one of the corporate world’s unique headquarters: a lakeside mansion complete with a marble staircase and 13 fireplaces, all modeled on a French château. But after calling the sylvan manor on Lake Minnetonka home since 1946, Cargill’s honchos will move down the road a bit to the company’s sprawling main office complex, an architectural creature of the 1970s.”

Not all that smoke is coming from Alberta. WCCO-TV reports, “Officials in northern Minnesota say several people were evacuated from their homes near Embarrass Saturday afternoon due to a wildfire. The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office says the fire was reported around 2 p.m. at the intersection of Highway 21 and Levander Road, near the Pike River. Driven by strong winds and extremely dry conditions, the fire forced the evacuation of several area homes, officials say.”

Where was this back in the day? Says Mike Creger of the Duluth News Tribune, “No one believes Kate and Jeremy Keeble when they tell people that they’ve opened the first hostel along the North Shore. The hostel part, yes. The historic part, no. Kate Keeble tells them that she can’t think of any other one. And it’s true, the Hungry Hippie Hostel just north of Grand Marais is the first of its kind from Duluth to Canada. The next thing people tell the Keebles is that they can’t believe no one had ever thought of opening one before.” Do they have a place to exchange Grateful Dead mix tapes?

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Our “terror trial” begins this week. Need a primer? Here’s Jennie Lissarrague at KSTP-TV: “Three Somali-Minnesotan men accused of trying to travel to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State group are going to trial this week in Minneapolis. … Was there ever a terrorist threat in Minnesota? While the three suspects on trial are not accused of planning attacks here in Minnesota, the case is focusing more attention on the threat in our state. A new KSTP/Survey USA poll found 43 percent of Minnesotans believe a terror attack is either somewhat or very likely in our state. The poll also found that Minnesotans believe allowing law enforcement to use all available surveillance tools, including drones, is the best way to prevent such an attack.” 

For MPR, Mukhtar Ibrahim says, “What are the accusations? The men are accused of plotting to commit murder overseas — a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison — as well as conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization, a charge that carries up to 15 years in prison. Their families insist the men are innocent and never intended to harm their country. The government is taking the threat of domestic radicalization seriously. However, some Minnesota Somali-American community leaders contend that the government is over-reaching in its anti-terrorism efforts when it comes to arresting impressionable young Muslim men who recently graduated from high schools and never left the United States.”

I wouldn’t want to be picking this stuff up in mid-July. Says Erin Golden of the Strib, “From ads at bus stops and on radio stations to teams of interns going door-to-door, Minneapolis is launching a ‘full-court press’ to boost the number of people participating in curbside organics recycling. … By July, households in all neighborhoods will be able to sign up for a new organics bin to fill with food scraps, meat, fish, bones, tissues, paper plates, pizza boxes and a long list of other items.”

Marcus Fuller and Kristi Belcamino of the PiPress write, “A University of Minnesota men’s basketball player was arrested Sunday afternoon on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct. According to a statement by the university’s athletics department, Reggie Lynch has been suspended from all team activities indefinitely, pending the outcome of the investigation.”

Not to be missed, especially the comments: Adam Belz and J. Patrick Coolican’s Sunday piece on mass exodus of Minnesota millionaires (not). “Critics predicted that the ultra-affluent would flee after Gov. Mark Dayton secured 2013 passage of a new income tax tier of 9.85 percent on individuals who make more than $156,000 a year. But the latest data show that the number of people who filed tax returns with over $1 million in income grew by 15.3 percent in the year after the tax passed, while the new top tier of taxpayers grew by 6 percent.”