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Republicans in legislature looking to crack down on protests

Plus: KleinBank will fight federal discrimination suit; fish and wildlife fund deficit; the return of the Lex; and more.

Minnesota State Capitol
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach

Today in Feeding the Base. Says Kyle Potter of the AP, “Minnesota officials responded to months of unrest last year after the death of a black man shot by police officers with funding meant to reduce the state’s widespread racial disparities. This year, a new Republican-controlled Legislature is plotting a crackdown on protests, with tougher penalties for highway marchers and potentially putting some demonstrators on the hook for the enforcement costs at unruly protests. It’s a marked shift in reaction to the protests that simmered for weeks after the death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark in November 2015 and again last summer after 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop near St. Paul.”

KleinBank is going to fight. Stribber Jeff Meitrodt says, “A discrimination lawsuit the U.S. Department of Justice recently filed against a family-owned community bank in the Twin Cities’ western suburbs could become the first test of the government’s ability to force suburban banks to do business in inner cities. The Justice Department, which sued Chaska-based KleinBank earlier this month, has filed a dozen similar lawsuits since 2002 against banks that operated primarily in suburban areas. The first 12 settled quickly, according to a Star Tribune review of federal fair lending cases. But KleinBank, which has repeatedly passed federal reviews on its lending in low-income areas, is adamant that the government cannot tell it where to build branches or market its services. ‘We will not admit to wrongdoing when we have done nothing wrong,’ said Doug Hile, KleinBank’s president and chief executive.”

I smell fee increases. Steve Karnowski of the AP reports, “A deficit is looming in the fund that provides most of the dollars for Minnesota’s fish and wildlife programs, and it’s projected to go into the red as soon as next year. That could mean deep cuts to programs that are important to hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans unless lawmakers take action. Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to make a proposal for addressing the problem when he releases his budget plan Tuesday.”

The Lex is coming back. In the PiPress, Nancy Ngo says, “It’s happening. The Lexington is set to open in a few weeks. Co-owner Josh Thoma said no further delays are expected after several factors set back the roll out of the institution that originally opened in 1935. … Thoma said the space has been gutted and things like putting in all new plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning as well as gutting the space to put in new carpet, tile, chandeliers, furniture as well as resanding and restoring classic features the Lex is known for has taken awhile.”

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Probably not much overlap with Saturday’s crowd. Kristi Belcamino of the PiPress writes, “Several thousand people turned out to protest abortion Sunday at the state Capitol grounds. The annual rally, organized by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, or MCCL, was held on the 44th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The crowd included huddled clusters of teenagers, nuns in full habit, young children playing in the melting snow, babies being pushed in strollers and elderly in wheelchairs. People held signs high, including several that said ‘Protect Life’ and others with pictures of smiling babies.”

In the Strib, Erin Golden writes, “Police estimated that between 4,500 and 5,000 people attended Sunday’s event, which began with a march around the Capitol grounds and ended with speeches and a trumpeter playing taps. The crowd included men and women of all ages and a large number of young children. Many in the group cheered as march organizers mentioned Republicans’ success in the election and the promise of what changes those lawmakers could achieve.”

And in case you were still wondering, Will Ashenmacher of the PiPress says, “Officials now estimate between 90,000 and 100,000 people — up to five times the expected number — joined ranks to form a blocks-long protest from Cathedral Hill to the State Capitol on Saturday morning for the Women’s March Minnesota. … Early police estimates pegged the number at 60,000 — still far beyond the expected 20,000 — but by Saturday evening, a police spokesman said he agreed with organizers’s estimate of between 90,000 and 100,000.”

Tough for minorities in Duluth. Says Brooks Johnson in the News Tribune, “Minnesota’s racial economic disparities are worse than most states, but Duluth’s disparities are worse than the state as a whole. According to Census data released in December, the unemployment rate is more than three times higher for black, Native American and mixed-race Duluthians than it is for whites. … Median incomes are strikingly low for Duluth’s minorities compared to whites as well. The white median household income is $46,888, according to Census data, while it is $13,986 for black households and $21,354 for Native Americans.”

Apparently someone didn’t notice the thaw and the pools of, you know, liquid water. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “A man heading to a fish house on a utility vehicle with a small girl crashed through the ice of a western Minnesota lake, prompting a rescue mission that brought the two safely to shore, authorities said. … According to the Sheriff’s Office: A man called 911 and said he saw the side-by-side utility vehicle crash through the ice, and the man and girl were standing atop the submerged vehicle in 7 feet of water.”

Related … Paul Huttner at MPR says, “It was a March weekend, in January. The official temp hit 40 degrees Sunday afternoon at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. That’s our average high temperature on March 13th! … The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for southern Minnesota Tuesday and Wednesday: The Twin Cities metro area is not in the winter storm watch, but the metro is expected to see enough snow to shovel. An early estimate would be 3 or 4 inches of snow in the metro area from Tuesday afternoon through midday Wednesday.”

Also related … . John Myers for the Forum News Service says, “For years the discussion about global climate change has been about how warm it’s going to get in many areas, or how wet, how dry or how stormy. But scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Princeton University wanted to answer a different question: How will worsening climate change impact nice weather? Their answer, for much of the United States and indeed across the Earth, was that there will be far fewer ‘mild days’ in the near future than there has been in the recent past. … But, for Minnesota, the study found that  springs and falls will see considerably more mild days as winter has a shorter impact. NOAA’s definition of ‘mild’ is the kind of day you’d want to be fishing, enjoying an outdoor ball game, having an outdoor wedding or picnic — between 64 and 86 degrees with less than a half-inch of rain and dew points, or humidity, in the comfortable range.”