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Rep. Rick Nolan considering run for Minnesota governor

Plus: lawmakers revisit idea of leasing private prison for state use; more than 2,400 arrested for DWI in MN over the holidays; head of MSFA grilled at legislative hearing about stadium suites; and more

Rep. Rick Nolan
MinnPost photo by Sam Brodey

Is Stewart Mills in yet? Zach Kayser for The Grand Forks Herald says, “U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat who represents Minnesota’s 8th U.S. Congressional District, is considering a run for governor, Nolan said Wednesday. In a phone interview, Nolan confirmed he was pondering whether to run in 2018. Nolan said while he was leaning toward staying on as 8th District congressman, a number of people encouraged him to consider running to replace DFL Gov. Mark Dayton when Dayton leaves office.”

Give the entrepreneurial class reason for optimism! Stribber Andy Mannix says, “Republican legislators say they will resurrect an effort to reopen and run a privately owned 1,600-bed prison in Swift County as a way to ease chronic overcrowding in Minnesota’s 10 state prisons. A proposal to lease the facility from its owner, Nashville, Tenn.-based CoreCivic, previously known as Corrections Corporation of America, flopped last year following an onslaught of criticism from the public, worker unions and mostly DFL lawmakers pushing to reduce the prison population. But proponents like Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, say legislators should reconsider this year, downplaying the many criticisms as over-politicized ‘fluff.’” I forget, is Tony in favor of arming the prisoners, too?

I have full confidence they can drag this Real ID business out another five months. Tim Pugmire at MPR says, “Legislation to bring Minnesota into compliance with the federal Real ID law cleared its second House committee, despite lingering concerns about the scope of the bill. Members of the House Transportation and Regional Governance Policy Committee held a hearing on the bill Wednesday and advanced in on an 8-6 vote. There is not yet a Senate version of a bill. Supporters want early action this session so the state can begin preparing for implementation of the stricter ID requirements ahead of next year’s scheduled start of enforcement at airports.”

Well, they better get ‘em in the next seven days. Says Don Davis for the Forum News Service, “Jose Sanchez says his immigrant community fears living without driver’s licenses. ‘Our community needs licenses to get around, to get to work, to get to school,’ he told a Minnesota House committee Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. ‘I ask that you listen to us and deal with your heart,’ he pleaded before the Republican-controlled committee voted 8-6 along party lines to keep in a provision that would enact a law banning immigrants to the United States without legal documentation from getting a license.”

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Not quite as much noise when a solar panel blows. The Billings Gazette reports, “Investigators on Wednesday said they still aren’t certain what caused the explosion Saturday at an oil well site near Sidney in far northeast Montana near the North Dakota border. The explosion, which could be felt 3.5 miles away in Sidney, damaged a nearby shop but injured no one. Sidney is about 45 miles southwest of Williston, N.D.”

2,400! Another Forum story says, “More than 2,400 drivers were arrested for driving while intoxicated during an extra enforcement period over the holidays, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Three hundred-plus agencies participated in the campaign, which was held from Nov. 23 to Dec. 30 on weekends and holidays. Authorities arrested 2,407 drivers for DWIs and issued 1,647 seat belt citations during the span. Both figures are down from the 2015 holiday enforcement period.”

Next time, how about a week in Cancun? Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune reports, “Grand Marais climber and adventurer Lonnie Dupre narrowly escaped disaster during his attempt this past week to solo-climb Alaska’s Mount Hunter. Dupre, 55, broke through a crevasse on his retreat from the 14,573-foot mountain and hung by a single ice axe for several minutes with his feet dangling beneath him, he said. ‘That scared the s— out of me,’ said Dupre, who in 2015 became the first solo climber to summit Alaska’s 20,310-foot Denali in January.”

Little by little. Maureen McMullen of the News Tribune reports, “A new round of state grants could extend broadband to thousands of businesses and households throughout areas of rural Minnesota that now are without reliable internet access. A total of $34 million has been dedicated to 42 broadband infrastructure projects throughout the state. The state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure plan adds state taxpayer dollars to funding from private and local sources and federal reimbursements from the Connect America Fund. Cities and the private sector matched state grants with an additional $40 million in funding.”

Says the AP, “A Minnesota man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for lying to the FBI about his social media exchanges with Islamic State group recruiters. Twenty-three-year-old Abdul Raheem Ali-Skelton, of Glencoe, pleaded guilty in April to lying about his communications with the group. Prosecutors argued Tuesday for a five-year sentence.”

Protecting and serving (and serving and serving), Wisconsin style!  Mike Longaecker of the Forum newspapers reports, “A St. Croix County, Wis., sheriff’s deputy likely consumed at least 15 shots of vodka before getting behind the wheel of his squad, where he was found passed out with the vehicle’s transmission in drive and his foot on the brake.”

And then there’s this woman. Says Josh Verges in the PiPress, “A St. Paul school administrator accused of stealing from her Wisconsin church has resigned her job after a 19-week period of paid administrative leave. St. Paul Public Schools placed Kara Amundson on leave Aug. 24 after the St. Croix County sheriff’s office notified the district about the criminal investigation, human resources director Laurin Cathey said. … She allegedly stole $189,448 from the church in cash, checks and an unauthorized credit card account used to charge purchases at hotels, gas stations and clothing stores.”

You couldn’t smack an easier target. Says Tim Nelson for MPR, “The head of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority faced tough questions Wednesday from lawmakers who believe the organization is abusing its power at U.S. Bank Stadium. … Lawmakers who questioned authority chair Michelle Kelm-Helgen wanted an accounting of everything, including whether invitees to the authority’s private suite got free parking and whether some guests who were public officials may have violated the gift ban that most public officials abide by.”