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Minnesota school officials reexamine security measures in wake of Florida massacre

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attending a memorial service on Thursdy.

For MPR, John Enger at MPR writes, “A day after the shooting that left 17 people dead at a Florida high school, Minnesota school officials were examining their own security measures. Every school shooting is horrible; tragic, but also informative, according to Gary Amoroso, director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. Every time another school shooting hits the news, superintendents watch closely, he said. … Florida law enforcement officials believe Nikolas Cruz, the suspected gunman, pulled a fire alarm, bringing streams of evacuating students into range. In Minnesota, some schools have fire protocols that could limit the danger in a situation like that.”

In the PiPress, Tad Vezner rounds up the latest on Minnesota gun laws: “The ‘defense of dwelling and person act’ — commonly referred to as the ‘stand your ground’ bill — expands the types of incidents in which it is legal to take another person’s life. While technically not a Second Amendment bill, it is often debated as such, as ‘stand your ground’ incidents typically involve firearms. … A bill filed last week by Rep. John Considine, DFL-Mankato, would make ‘slide-fire’ or ‘bump’ stocks illegal, by classifying them as ‘trigger activators.’ Such activators are currently defined under state law as devices that increase the rate at which a gun’s trigger may be pulled, thus increasing the rate of fire of a firearm to that of a machine gun, which are illegal in Minnesota.”

It’s getting worse?  The Star Tribune’s Glenn Howatt says, “Minnesota has recorded three new child flu deaths and an uptick in school outbreaks, signs that the state’s influenza season is catching up to the nation’s in severity. The number of Minnesotans hospitalized with flu symptoms also has set a record — nearly 4,300 — the highest since the Minnesota Health Department began tracking them in 2008. … The numbers, released Thursday in the department’s weekly flu update, came as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that this year’s flu vaccine is 36 percent effective overall but only 25 percent effective against this season’s most dominant and virulent strain, H3N2.”

Also getting worse: youth tobacco use. MPR reports: “The embrace of e-cigarettes and vaping by Minnesota youth is reversing the state’s long-term trend of declining teen tobacco use, the Minnesota Health Department said Thursday. Minnesota youth tobacco use is rising for the first time in 17 years, with 26 percent of high school students using some form of tobacco or nicotine, up from 24 percent in 2014, the agency said as it released its annual survey on young people and tobacco. Youth e-cigarette use is up 50 percent since 2014, the agency said.”

He had a valid state driver’s license. Says Barry Amundson for the Forum News Service, “Minnesota’s most notorious drunken driver— arrested for DWI 28 times—is again in a state prison. New York Mills construction worker Danny Lee Bettcher, 65, was sent to the St. Cloud state prison for 4 1/2 years for his latest felony conviction for refusing to submit to a DWI test last week in Fergus Falls district court. The DWI charge was dismissed. Bettcher, who has gone by many aliases over the years and has been in and out of jails, had a valid state driver’s license when he was arrested on the charges last September … .”

Also in the Strib, Tim Harlow and Mary Lynn Smith have this on that chain reaction crash/knife/gunfire melee in Fridley the other day. “A knife-wielding man who was shot in the wild aftermath of a multi-car crash Wednesday afternoon in Fridley has died of his injuries, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said. … According to investigators, [Simon] Schiffler soon directed his attention elsewhere, pulling a knife and going after the man whose vehicle he struck. When the man sought refuge in his vehicle, Schiffler stabbed at the windows in an attempt to break in….  That’s when an armed passerby stopped to help. Schiffler began acting ‘aggressively and intentionally engaged the armed individual,’ Sommer said.”

The smaller the town, the bigger the slight. The PiPress’ S.M. Chavey writes: “Last month, a New Brighton commissioner wrote a letter to the editor of the New Brighton Bulletin questioning the motives of the former city council to change elections from odd years to even years. On Tuesday, the commissioner lost his volunteer position because of that letter. The council voted 3-2 to remove Ben Jones from the planning commission. Council members and city staff said Jones’ letter was insulting and misleading. Jones thought that was an unfair assessment. ‘I’m disappointed,’ Jones said of his removal. ‘I think it shows a little bit of pettiness in the council majority and a little bit of an unhealthy attitude toward the role of the commission and toward dissent in the city.’”

#BoldCredit Patrick Kennedy of the Strib says, “Minnesotans’ noted Midwestern work ethic apparently extends to personal finance. The consumer and business credit rating agency Experian said in its State of Credit report for 2017 that Minnesotans have the highest credit scores in the country. The company’s annual survey shows that Minnesotans have an average credit score of 709 out of 850, well above the national average of 675. Vermont and New Hampshire trailed Minnesota residents with average scores of 702 and 701 respectively.” 

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