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Bills raising penalties for freeway protests move forward at Legislature

Plus: lots of uncertainty about Friday snow totals; U of M technology pushes solar windows closer to reality; another bit of bad news for Wells Fargo; and more. 

Police are seen as people gather on I-94 last July to protest the fatal shooting of Philando Castile.
REUTERS/Adam Bettcher

For FOX 9, Tim Blotz says, “Shutting down a freeway is already against the law.  Both Zerwas’ and [Kathy] Lohmer’s bills along with two companion bills in the Senate would raise the penalties to gross misdemeanors. That means the penalties rise to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. But at a House hearing on Wednesday, opponents to the bills argued it will suppress free speech. ‘Take your shovel and dig Martin Luther King back up. Dig Malcolm X back up and charge them with protesting,’ shouted John Thompson.” Don’t give them any more ideas.

Rachel Stassen-Berger of the PiPress says, “Minnesota Republican House members on Wednesday amplified their moves to increase penalties for people who block highways, airports and mass transit as part of protests. … [Nick] Zerwas, who has sponsored measures to increase penalties for highway protests, has also offered a bill that would allow local governments to charge demonstrators for the cost of policing their protests. On Wednesday, he acknowledged that measure is more controversial than the highway protest bill and said he was looking for common ground on the issue.”

Or better yet, why doesn’t the state pay us to file? At MPR, Bob Collins says, “Finding things that Democrats and Republicans can agree on might seem like an impossible task, but here’s one possibility: We shouldn’t have to pay money to file our taxes. Increasingly — and logically — more people are doing taxes with tax preparation software offered by companies which are happy to take $19.95 to file them with the state of Minnesota. Five Republicans and Seven DFLers have filed legislation in the House of Representatives to study the idea of allowing Minnesotans to file their state returns for free.”

The latest on Friday’s Snowpocalypse. Says Paul Huttner at MPR, “The heaviest snow band with this storm still has the capability to generate 6″ to 12″ snowfall totals.Locally heavier snowfall totals up to 18″ are possible. … The system is one of the most powerful to wrap up over Minnesota this winter. In addition to plenty of moisture, a tight pressure gradient will generate plenty of wind-driven snow.”

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Thank you, Mitch. Aimee Blanchette of the Strib reports, “While holding her 3-month-old son outside of Brass Knuckle Tattoo Studio in Uptown, Nora McInerny rolled up her sleeve to show off her newest tattoo. Two handwritten words in black ink glistened beneath clear plastic wrap and tape: ‘She Persisted’. ‘Those words remind me of every woman I know who has kept going even though it’s difficult or it might make you unpopular’, McInerny said. ‘I just thought it was a perfectly beautiful sentiment. Also, I’m incredibly impulsive.’ What started as McInerny’s impulsive idea turned into something bigger when on Tuesday, more than 100 women (and a guy or two) lined up and waited at the Minneapolis ink shop for their turn to get a tattoo of the now infamous quote from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when trying to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren earlier this month.”

Now this is getting somewhere. At KARE -TV, Ellery McCardle reports, “Solar windows could be the next big thing to cut down on your energy bills. After years of research, The University of Minnesota found the technology is one step closer to becoming a reality. Researchers say the idea has been around for decades, but there was not a way to create solar windows without using toxic materials. … The team’s hope is to develop inexpensive solar windows to create a more energy efficient world and cut down on energy consumption especially in urban areas where there is less space to install solar panels. Kortshagen said he hopes to see solar windows on the market in three to five years. For now, there is more research to do.”

Well Fargo’s tangled web gets stickier and stickier. A Reuters story by Suzanne Barlyn says, “Prudential Financial Inc, the target of probes and lawsuits related to whether Wells Fargo & Co retail bankers improperly sold its insurance, may press the bank to cover costs it has run up because of the flap, according to a filing. ‘The company has provided notice to Wells Fargo that it may seek indemnification under the MyTerm distribution agreement,’ Prudential said in a Feb. 17 regulatory filing. It was unclear how much in costs Prudential may seek.”

Even in the era of HD auto-focus Sasquatch is always blurry. Mike Mullen at City Pages says of the latest bigfoot video, “… is this piano music bed really supposed to evoke a woodland beast that’s survived for millenia without leaving a single corpse in the scientific record, thereby setting up the possible if not likely reality that Bigfoot is, in fact, immortal? Is ascribing lousy taste in music our way of looking down our nose at the ‘missing link’? How can we tell this ‘image’ was ‘captured on a trail cam in Minnesota’? Does anyone recognize anything in this photo aside from vague hints of the colors green, yellow, and black?  Why do all those colors wash out, and why does the image become very bright around the 24 second mark, but only briefly? Did you guys notice that too? Is that close-up supposed to… help? Has this really been watched more than 15 thousand times since Monday? Does anyone believe this ‘video’ proves anything except people are superstitious, incredibly bored at work, and just looking for anything to click … ?”