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Klobuchar vows to push for investigation into possible Trump-Russia ties

Plus: Who should get a tax break in Minnesota? Some Minneapolis restaurant owners planning to bump workers’ pay; latest records show Minnesota has fewer, bigger farms; and more.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar
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Allison Sherry of the Strib says, “Sen. Amy Klobuchar is diving into the boiling controversy over Russia and President Donald Trump, vowing to leverage what she said are strong alliances with her Republican colleagues to push for an independent investigation into possible ties between the new administration and America’s global rival. … The resignation last week of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, after revelations he communicated with Russian officials and then lied about it to Vice President Mike Pence are ‘a major problem for our government, and it makes it look like we don’t know what we’re doing,’ Klobuchar said.” Please tell us there’s no good reason to believe that.

Key phrase: “there hasn’t been a dime allocated.” Tim Harlow of the Strib reports on ideas for streamlining Highways 62 and 494 in Minneapolis. “For starters, the agency in charge of state roads would like to add a MnPass lane on I 494. MnDOT also is looking at rebuilding interchanges and adding auxiliary lanes at pinch points along both routes to improve traffic flow. It’s also dreaming of building a ‘flyover’ bridge to carry traffic from northbound I-35W to westbound I-494 and open up one of the area’s most clogged interchanges. ‘If we had the money, this is what we would do,’ said MnDOT spokeswoman Bobbie Dahlke. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a dime allocated for those projects … .” 

No relation at all, I’m certain. Says Bill Salisbury in the PiPress, “With a $1.4 billion surplus in the state treasury, Gov. Mark Dayton and both Republican and Democratic legislators support cutting taxes. The questions they must answer are: Who gets the tax breaks, and how much money will they receive? It’s too early to tell. Dayton put a $300 million tax-cut plan on the table in January, but lawmakers are just starting to sort through a huge stack of requests for tax relief. More than 100 tax bills have been introduced in the Senate, and House members are wading through 200-plus proposals.”

Some funky ratios here. Stribber Shannon Prather reports, “For every dollar raised through charitable gambling that the Irving Community Association gives to food shelves and children’s programs, it pays more than $2 in taxes. The Duluth-based nonprofit paid $733,000 in state taxes and fees last year, more than double the $306,000 it spent on good works, according to its gambling manager. Irving belongs to a group of nonprofits with gambling operations now asking state lawmakers for millions in tax relief to free up more revenue for charity. But the Minnesota Department of Revenue has expressed concern about losing dollars that go into the state’s general fund and help pay for U.S. Bank Stadium.” Come on now. We all have priorities. No. 1: Football.

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Is this a good deed that will unpunished? Strib Business columnist Neal St. Anthony writes, “A few Minneapolis restaurant owners plan as early as March to turn the minimum wage debate into what they believe is a better deal for employees. And there’s no small amount of risk involved. Two owners have decided to move ahead with front-to-back-of-the-house wage increases to $12.40 per hour by raising prices and discouraging tipping. And a third plans to take up the matter soon with staff.”

In other business news, Will Ashenmacher of the PiPress says, “After five people were shot Saturday amid a barrage of bullets at the Stargate nightclub, the Maplewood mayor has called for a special city council meeting this week to consider possible sanctions against the business. The special meeting will be held at 8 a.m. Wednesday to ‘review the incident and consider possible sanctions and/or conditions of the license of the nightclub,’ Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said Sunday night. No arrests had been made as of Sunday night, but earlier Schnell had said, ‘We’re closer to identifying persons of interest.’”

Another 300 bite the rich soil. The AP says, “Minnesota has slightly fewer farms than a year ago but the ones that remain tend to be getting larger, following national trends. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Friday says the total number of farms in Minnesota in 2016 was 73,300. That’s down 300 from 2015. The total amount of Minnesota farmland last year was 25.9 million acres, which hasn’t changed since 2013.”