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Minnesota would need hundreds of new case workers to enforce Medicaid work requirement

Plus: MN AG Swanson talks about picking fights; state poised for stink bug invasion; Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco suspended for 80 games after testing positive for steroids; and more.

The GleanGlenn Howatt of the Strib reports, “Republican legislators who are proposing work requirements for Minnesota’s Medicaid recipients say it would promote personal responsibility and save taxpayer dollars …. The state Medicaid program has ballooned to a cost of $5 billion annually. Hennepin County estimates, though, that enforcing a work requirement would require hiring up to 300 additional caseworkers — raising the possibility that bureaucratic costs would erase any savings.”

In The New York Times, Erica Green takes an interest in Minnesota school’s disciplinary demographics. “When Erin Rathke, the principal at Justice Page Middle School, is called to extract a student from class, she hears the same plea over and over again, most often, she has to admit, from black children: ‘The teacher only sees me.’ The plea weighs heavily at Justice Page, where African-American students are 338 percent more likely to be suspended than their white peers. … It is a reality that district leaders here have been grappling with for years: The Minneapolis school district suspends an inordinate number of black students compared with white ones, and it is struggling to figure out why. Last year, districtwide, black students were 41 percent of the overall student population, but made up 76 percent of the suspensions.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson talks to Steve Karnowski of the AP about picking her fights in the Trump era. “In an era when Democratic attorneys general have increasingly taken the lead in opposing Republican President Donald Trump’s agenda, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson says she keeps doing her job the same way regardless of who’s running the federal or state government. … Several Democratic attorneys general have teamed up to sue the Trump administration on several fronts. … Swanson has joined in several cases filed by her fellow Democrats, but hasn’t taken a leading role in most.”

A gift for spring. Says John Meyer in the Duluth News Tribune, “The Minnesota Department of Agriculture confirmed recently that the first brown marmorated stink bug in Duluth was reported in 2017 at the Apple Tree Circle Community Garden near the Duluth Zoo. It’s likely many more reports will come. After a lag period of several years since they were first found in Minnesota, bug experts say the state is on the cusp of a major stink bug outbreak.” 

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80 games. Via MPR: “Minnesota Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco has been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. … In a statement released by the players’ union, Polanco said he didn’t ‘intentionally consume this steroid.’ Polanco said he requested a substance from his athletic trainer in the Dominican Republic, but was given something else.”

File under ‘No duh.’ The AP says, “A study of University of Wisconsin Hospital trauma patients found that motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets are twice as likely to suffer neck injuries in crashes compared to those who use helmets. The study looked at more than 1,000 patients who’d been treated for motorcycle crashes from 2010-15, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Almost 70 percent of patients hadn’t worn helmets. More than 15 percent of those who hadn’t worn helmets suffered neck injuries, including almost 11 percent with spinal fractures. Just over 7 percent of riders who used helmets injured their necks, including almost 5 percent with spinal fractures.”

A good first year for The Palace Theater. Says Ross Raihala in the PiPress, “Located on West Seventh Place off Wabasha Street, the Palace has attracted a lot of people who do care about music. In its first 12 months, the venue has hosted 65 shows, 37 of which sold out. Eight acts have played two consecutive nights and Americana favorites Wilco headlined three high-profile, sold-out concerts in a row, their final gigs before taking an extended hiatus. A total of 110,856 people attended shows in the Palace’s first year, a number that doesn’t include Saturday’s Glen Hansard performance. Those numbers more than exceeded general manager Nate Kranz’s expectations.”

This ‘Destination Medical Center’ thing in Rochester is pretty big. Says Matt McKinney in the Strib, “It’s a ‘home run’ of a project, in the words of DMC Board Member R.T. Rybak, and two public hearings this week will raise the likelihood that construction on Bloom International Realty’s riverfront development could begin later this year. The 925,000-square-foot development would blend senior housing, condominiums, public spaces, retail, restaurants, parking and a five-star hotel topped with a private VIP suite in the $5.6 billion DMC plan’s largest project yet.”