Minnesota lawmakers push wide-ranging gun-control measures


Carpe diem. Tad Vezner of the PiPress reports, “While one Minnesota House representative has used a little-known rule to get an unexpected hearing on a pair of gun-safety bills this week, another representative has sponsored another bill that reaches much further than any in recent memory. And she says she may very well adopt the same tactic as her colleague to garner a hearing. … The House bill would: Expand the definition of an ‘assault weapon’ to include many semiautomatic pistols, rifles or shotguns and makes possessing them a felony … Ban private gun sales, or the transfer of firearms between family members or through inheritance… Make possessing bump stocks, silencers and many ‘large capacity’ magazines … a felony. … Require all ammunition to be purchased from a licensed dealer [and] … Make it illegal for people who owe court-ordered child support to own firearms.”

New protocols for rape kits. Says Jennifer Bjorhus in the Strib, “Minnesota law enforcement agencies would get clear, mandated timetables for testing rape kits under a plan drafted by House lawmakers to improve the state’s investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults. The legislation, introduced this week, seeks to standardize the handling of sexual assault evidence in the wake of a 2015 audit that revealed 3,482 untested rape kits in police storage across the state — some dating to the early 1990s.”

The brawl goes on. Tim Pugmire of MPR reports, “After months of problems with the system known as MNLARS, Republican state Rep. Paul Torkelson said Tuesday that he won’t give a blank check to DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration. Instead, he’s proposing a $10 million allocation that would require the administration to cut an equal amount from executive branch budgets.” That’ll show ‘em.

Here’s a twist. Says Dee DePass of the Strib, covering the Starkey Hearing Aid trial, “A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Starkey Laboratories owner Bill Austin perjured himself at least once in his testimony during a $20 million embezzlement case against two of his former executives and two business associates. U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim ruled the government knew that Austin perjured himself, identifying one instance in which either Austin or an FBI agent gave false statements and another in which he said the government should have known Austin was not telling the truth.”

In San Francisco it’d cost $15 million. Stribber Kim Palmer says, “What can you get for $1.2 million in Duluth? An airy modern home with walls of glass and sweeping views of Lake Superior, designed by a lauded architect, David Salmela. You’ll also get Salmela as your neighbor. The Scandinavian-style house, which has won architectural awards and been featured in multiple magazines, was completed in 2011. Salmela designed it for a couple who had moved from Washington, D.C., to Duluth to care for the wife’s ailing mother.”

At Slate, Richard Hasen writes about the Supreme Court and the Minnesota case on polling place campaigning. “The question is a close one because it pits the First Amendment right to free speech against the right to vote free of intimidation and interference at the polling place. Considering a similar case in 1992, banning electioneering in areas around polling places Justice Antonin Scalia got it right: Polling places are and have traditionally been ‘nonpublic forums,’ where the state can decide that the right to free speech needs to give way to the tranquility of the election booth. The point is even more urgent in our highly polarized times.”

Do not upset this little girl. In People, Caitlin Keating says, “An 18-month-old girl’s severe allergy to water has gotten to the point where even a 15-second bath will cause rashes, hives and blisters that leave her in excruciating pain. In October, Ivy Angerman, of Hastings, Minnesota, was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria, a rare condition in which urticaria [hives] develop rapidly after the skin comes in contact with water, regardless of its temperature, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. … When Ivy cries, her face swells up from her own tears. Her sweat will even cause a reaction. She can no longer play in the snow, and even a few raindrops can result in an outbreak.” Never heard of that one.

Everything about this story is ghastly. Chris Graves and Brandt Williams of MPR say, “The mother of 21-year-old twin daughters who outlined years of rape, beatings and torture in what one official called a ‘house of horrors’ remained jailed after her first court appearance on the charges Monday in Hennepin County District Court. Shelia Machelle Wilson, 48, is held in lieu of $300,000 bail on three counts of criminal neglect. She is the mother of the twins, one with a mental capacity of between a 3- or 4-year-old and the other with a mental capacity of a 6-year-old, according to court records. The twins’ father also remains jailed on charges of rape, assault and stalking in the case. Jerry Curry, 52, was arrested Feb. 22 after police were called to the family’s home last May after one of the twin daughters escaped from the home and reported the abuse. The couple, who told police they are also brother and sister then later denied it, also have an 11-year-old daughter.”

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