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State Senator who's an NRA member to push bill expanding background checks in Minnesota

Minnesota Senate
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Minnesota Senate

For MPR, Brian Bakst has this: “A Republican state senator who is a National Rifle Association member planned Monday to add his voice to a push for new gun restrictions in Minnesota. First-term Sen. Scott Jensen of Chaska was set to appear at a news conference with Democratic colleagues to announce proposals they hope can advance this legislative session. … Jensen said he supports widening the use of background checks in gun sales in an attempt to prevent ineligible people from obtaining firearms. … Jensen said he’s willing to take heat for his stance in his conservative district. He said the Legislature’s focus should be on achievable solutions rather than measures seen as more politically divisive.”

And speaking of guns: In a story on how much security is needed at schools, Christopher Magan of the PiPress writes: “How well-fortified do Minnesota’s more than 2,000 public school buildings need to be? Should they all have armed guards? Locked entrances with bulletproof glass? Teachers with weapons and tactical training to intercept a violent intruder? After 17 students and staff were killed on Valentine’s Day at a high school in Parkland, Fla., lawmakers across the nation have a renewed sense of urgency to make schools as safe as possible. Yet students and staff who spend their days in Minnesota’s public school buildings warn there is a fine line between improving school safety and militarizing places of learning. They’ve largely rejected proposals that would put guns in the hands of teachers and non-security staff.” 

1 in 4. MPR’s Nina Moini reports on renewed efforts to force Minnesotans to put down their phones while driving: “The Minnesota State Patrol and families that have lost loved ones to distracted driving want lawmakers to turn Minnesota into the 16th hands-free driving state in the country. They'll testify Tuesday before the House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee, which is considering the bill. Under the bill, drivers would no longer be able to hold their phones while driving..… A State Patrol report released last week shows distracted driving contributes to 1 in 4 crashes in Minnesota, and it contributed to an average of 59 deaths and 223 serious injuries per year over the last five years.”

HCMC no more. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Katherine Grayson reports: “Hennepin County Medical Center has changed its name to Hennepin Healthcare, a rebranding the organization said will better promote its widening array of services. The Minneapolis-based, county-owned health system is best known for its downtown medical center, but it also runs a network of clinics, a home-care business and pharmacies, among other operations. …  Hennepin Healthcare is announcing the change as it prepares to open its new $225 million downtown 377,000-square-foot clinic and specialty center this month.”

Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen gets a checkup from the Strib’s Maya Rao. “Paulsen’s January appointment to the U.S. Joint Economic Committee by House Speaker Paul Ryan raises his profile in what promises to be a tough election year. Paulsen is one of the most politically vulnerable GOP members in the House and must hold onto his swing district against well-funded Democratic challenger Dean Phillips. … The committee was formed when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. The late Democratic Sen. Hubert Humphrey chaired the panel from 1975 to 1976 and, amid rising unemployment, pushed for the federal government to intervene directly to ensure people had jobs. Paulsen, not surprisingly, sees the government’s role as less overbearing.” 

Nothing not sad about this story. KSTP-TV’s Beth McDonough reports: “Two high school students from Braham have died following a vehicle crash Saturday morning east of Mora. The Kanabec County Sheriff's Office said the two-vehicle crash occurred about 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of 195th Avenue and Rainbow Street. Gavin Butenhoff, a passenger, died at the scene. The driver of that vehicle, Alexis Hasser, was taken to North Memorial Medical Center, where she later died. Butenhoff was a junior and Hasser a senior at Braham Area High School. She was supposed to graduate in May. Friends confirm the teenagers were high school sweethearts.”

Unlikely to catch on in Minneapolis. Says Hannah Covington in the Strib, “When it snows in Crystal, not all sidewalks are created equal. Most of them get cleared by the city, including those running along county highways, city properties and right next to the street. The city plows about 30 out of nearly 35 miles of sidewalks in all, with property owners on the hook for removing snow on the rest. But that could change soon, as some leaders push for a policy tweak that would put the west metro suburb of 22,000 in charge of keeping all its sidewalks clear of snow.”

This is good to hear. John Ewoldt of the Strib writes, “What could have become a giant dump of Super Bowl leftovers from U.S. Bank Stadium, the Convention Center and Nicollet Mall is instead being reused and repurposed by more than 20 local charities. The Salvation Army has collected more than 1 million square feet of mesh fencing, banners and carpeting used before and during the Super Bowl and is distributing the materials to other local charities.” If the NFL would like to kick back oh, $200 million of the cost of the stadium, worthy charities could use that, too.

ICYMI. Deon Roberts in the Charlotte Observer reports, “A group of nuns upset about the spate of scandals at Wells Fargo just got the bank to agree to write up how it failed to prevent the problems. Last week, the nuns and other Wells Fargo investors announced the bank had bowed to their demands for the report, whose findings are expected to detail the root causes of the scandals, including at the board level. ‘We are encouraged that they are finally agreeing to take this first step towards what we hope will be authentic reform,’ Sister Nora Nash, of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, said in a statement.” 

Speaking of familiar names, The AP’s Thomas Beaumont and Scott Bauer have this on Scott Walker moving toward the center in Wisconsin. “Not long ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was the voice of a conservative revolution in the heartland, a Republican at the vanguard and a possible future president. Today, he's the voice of concern, warning his party — at home and nationally — that change is coming again. … Months before the January special election in Wisconsin, Walker began preparing for a different political mood in 2018. Walker, who fought implementation of Obama's 2010 health care law, is now proposing shoring up the private health insurance market. He also wants to ban policy denials for people with pre-existing conditions, a popular provision of Obama's signature law. Other Democrat-friendly policies he's promoting include protecting Wisconsin's popular SeniorCare discount prescription drug program, bolstering funding for schools and sending families $100 for each child younger than 18.” 

Finally, what you've all been waiting for  — the 2018 edition of the All Hockey Hair Team

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Comments (3)


It will always be HCMC. Easy to say and never confused with anything else.

Hennepin HealthCare or HH, just distinguish it or say what it is. It sounds like an office building; not a hospital.

Disconnect between NRA member & leadership

It's almost not news that an NRA member isn't marching in lockstep with the NRA leadership. The majority of members support common sense gun control, like universal background checks and not selling cop-killer bullets. The problem is that the "leadership" doesn't answer to their members. They answer to their sponsors, the gun manufacturers. The gun industry is motivated by three things: sales, profits and more sales.

What's surprising is that Republican would be willing to buck the NRA, which is a major funder of their party. And a major political force, since their members tend to be single issue voters who take the NRA grading system seriously.

Sadly, while the vast majority of Americans favor common sense gun controls (within the limits of the 2nd Amendment), they're not a top priority. However, this may be changing, thanks in large part to the kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Those kids, particularly as young as they are, are an inspiration and a force to be reckoned with.

They give me hope for the future.

Jensen deserves credit.

It shouldn't be, but in this political climate, it's a bold move.