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Twin Cities woman awarded $1M in child sex-trafficking case

Courtesy photo
Panyia Vang

A step towards justice. The Pioneer Press’ Sarah Horner reports: “A Laotian-American woman from the Twin Cities was awarded nearly $1 million Thursday after winning an unprecedented civil suit in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis that sought to hold a former Minnesota man accountable for violating child sex tourism and trafficking laws. … A jury found Panyia Vang was entitled to $950,000 in damages. She said she was raped in Laos by Thiawachu Prataya when the Hmong-American man was visiting the country in 2006, according to Linda Miller, one of her attorneys.”

Guess whose electric bill is about to go up. The Star Tribune’s Mike Hughlett, reports: “Minnesota utility regulators Thursday approved a landmark four-year rate deal for Xcel Energy that will ultimately raise residential rates by 10.6 percent — though a big chunk of that increase is already in place. … The rate case is uncommon in two ways. It’s the first multiyear rate plan in Minnesota for investor-owned Xcel, made possible by a 2015 state law change. … Also, it resulted from a settlement between Xcel and several parties it might normally end up fighting — particularly the Minnesota Department of Commerce, one of two Minnesota agencies commissioned with looking out for the public interest in rate cases.”

Everyone loves the idea of building up infrastructure — until it comes down to specific projects. APM Reports’ Tom Scheck writes: “President Trump wants to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure and the proposals are pouring in. Some of that potential spending, however, is bound to make Minnesota leaders very unhappy. … North Dakota’s governor and the mayor of Fargo, N.D., have been lobbying the White House to include funding for the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project. If the president includes the $2.2 billion project in his proposal, it will set up a showdown with Minnesota, where officials here say Moorhead will get the short end of the deal. … The flood mitigation project is a major effort to prevent damage from future Red River Valley floods. It relies on a large levee south of Fargo-Moorhead. The water would then be diverted in a channel around the cities.”

Sometimes a cigar tax break is just a cigar tax break. MPR’s Bob Collins reports: “In the list of people in Minnesota who are suffering, can anyone top the smoker of premium cigars? … So it’s no wonder that House Taxes Committee chair Greg Davids succeeded in adding language to a tax bill that gives a break to Big Cigar. … Cigars are taxed at 95 percent of the wholesale price, topping out at $3.50. Davids’ provision cuts the maximum to 50 cents, the Rochester Post Bulletin says. … ‘People are still smoking premium cigars. It’s just that they aren’t getting them from Minnesota retailers,’ Davids said.”

In other news…

Huh: “Looks like Google complied with Edina cops’ insanely broad search warrant” [City Pages]

Mr. Pessimistic: “Nolan: Russia scandal worse than Watergate and GOP health care bill worse than it appears” [Duluth News Tribune]

Never hurts to ask: “City leaders urge Legislature to boost aid to cities” [Echo Press]

Your Rochester flag ideas are due Monday: “What should be on new city flag?” [Rochester Post Bulletin]

The ability to pay too much for lunch shouldn’t be constrained by geography: “First food truck lane opens in north Minneapolis” [MPR]

How’s that farebox recovery for I-35 anyway? “Scrutinizing Roads To The Same Degree As Transit” []

Not cut out for the mean streets of St. Cloud: “JL Beers to close downtown St. Cloud location, cites ‘parking, safety issues and crime’” [St. Cloud Times]

Was that so difficult? “This Washington County lake had a derogatory name. Now it’s called Keewahtin.” [Pioneer Press]

Finally, a safe place for tiny houses: “Minnesota couple opens sanctuary for tiny homes near Mille Lacs” [KMSP]

There’s a lesson here: “Father and son make a rare find: Two bull moose tangled together in death” [Inforum]

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