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Minnesota high schoolers plan anti-gun-violence protests

Plus: Walz backs assault-weapons ban; the 3M settlement; rate of Minnesotans without health insurance climbs; and more.

Students from West Boca Raton Community High School carry a placard as they walk to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, during a protest on Tuesday.
REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The protest riseth and cometh. The Strib’s Anthony Lonetree writes, “Students at a growing number of Minnesota schools are joining an unprecedented nationwide campaign against gun violence in the wake of the Florida school shootings that left 17 dead. Walkouts are planned for March and April, amid hopes, too, for a strong state presence at a ‘March For Our Lives’ protest in Washington, D.C., on March 24. … In Minneapolis, students are planning to walk out of their high schools on Wednesday afternoon, according to several social media reports.”

KMSP-TV says, “The March 14 walkout started as #ENOUGH on social media and was subsequently co-opted by the Women’s March youth wing, called EMPOWER, and will consist of a 17-minute walkout meant to honor the 17 students and staff who died in the Feb. 14 shooting. In addition, a group formed under the moniker ‘National School Walkout’ is organizing a similar event for April 20th to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. ”

Brian Bakst of MPR reports, “Minnesota U.S Rep. Tim Walz, a DFL candidate for governor this year, said Tuesday he’s backing an assault-weapons ban in Minnesota and other ‘common sense solutions’ to stop gun violence. Walz has touted his support from the NRA in prior campaigns, donning a camouflaged NRA hat while running in a southern Minnesota district filled with rural towns. But the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week by a young gunman with an AR-15 assault rifle laid bare what has been a simmering divide as DFL candidates combined their condolences with calls to action. On Tuesday, Walz posted a statement saying that after hearing the ‘anger, grief and frustration’ of people across Minnesota over gun violence, ‘I get it.’

Meanwhile, at the Capitol, Tad Vezner of the PiPress says, “Before the most recent mass school shooting in Florida, the gun control group known as Minnesota Moms Demand Action expected about 30 people to show up for their February rally at the state Capitol. That rally took place Tuesday. An informal headcount easily topped 200, and organizers said the 400 leaflets they brought were quickly snapped up by the sizable crowd. ‘I’m new to this. This is my first time. Unfortunately, my daughter saw (a video from the Feb. 14 shootings in Parkland, Fla.) last night,’ said Beth Benson, 54, of Hopkins, referring to her 15-year-old child. ‘I tried to talk to her, but what do you say? I had fire drills and tornado drills in school. Now they have … I mean, this is insane,’ Benson added, choking up.”

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Here’s Bloomberg’s Tiffany Kary on the 3M settlement. “Controversy is growing over the main chemicals involved, PFOS and PFOA, as well as the entire class of perfluorinated compounds — or PFCs — which are still used in stainproof and waterproof treatments and food packaging. The situation tested a state’s ability to force a major employer to pay for pollution as the U.S. relaxes environmental rules. It also shows how liability can mushroom long after companies stop making chemicals like PFCs that don’t degrade, but accumulate in the food chain.”

As intended. In the Duluth News Tribune John Lundy says, “A jump in the percentage of Minnesota residents who don’t have health insurance isn’t surprising, a legislator from Duluth said on Tuesday. ‘The GOP feds eliminated the cost-sharing subsidies for individuals,’ said state Rep. Jen Schultz, DFL-Duluth. ‘Health insurance is simply not affordable for many Minnesotans.’ The uninsured rate was 6.3 percent in 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health reported on Tuesday, up from 4.3 percent two years earlier. It’s still well below the rates in 2009 and 2011, just before the start of the Affordable Care Act, but slightly higher than the 2001 rate of 6.1 percent.” Plainly, this wouldn’t have happened if they’d just opened a Health Savings Account.