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Toxicology report finds Prince’s fentanyl level ‘exceedingly high’

Plus: state employee contract approved; state Senate passes pension bill; students march to Paul Ryan hometown in support of gun control; and more.

REUTERS/Mike Blake

“Exceedingly high” is not a good description. For the AP (via the Star Tribune), Amy Forliti reports, “A toxicology report from Prince’s autopsy, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, shows he had what multiple experts called an ‘exceedingly high’ concentration of fentanyl in his body when he died. Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016.”

In this one “could” is the key word. Stribber Randy Furst writes, “While the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond has yet to file any kind of lawsuit related to her shooting death by Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, Twin Cities lawyers say the payout could be a record. … The family is represented by Robert Bennett, the dean of Minnesota lawyers when it comes to police misconduct lawsuits, who has won millions of dollars in settlements. Joseph Daly, an emeritus professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, thinks Bennett will win a settlement of $10 million or more. ‘It would surprise me if this case went for $20 million, but it wouldn’t shock me,’ he said.”

State employees are getting a raise. Don Davis of the Forum News Service says, “Tens of thousands of Minnesota state workers will get a raise after the House and Senate approved negotiated contracts. Senators voted 56-10 Monday to bump up pay for more than 30,000 workers by 2 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The House followed a few hours later with a 93-33 vote. About half of workers are eligible for other increases, too, Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said. The raises will not increase taxes, said Sen. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, because the added pay would come out of existing budgets.”

Also from Mr. Davis: “Many Minnesota government pension plans are paying out more than they are taking in. State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, says that is troubling. Her colleagues agreed Monday when they unanimously approved her bill that increases funding going into the pension plans and slightly cuts some benefits. While senators are together on the issue, the pension bill has not received a House committee hearing. Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend $27 million to help shore up public pensions. Rosen’s bill has been in the works for three years as aging baby boomers are retiring, stressing pension plans. The House and Senate have approved many of the provisions, but Dayton vetoed bigger bills containing the pension language.” Why heck, they’re just givin’ money away!

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And may I just say, “Yikes?” Also from the Forum folks. “Authorities are looking for a 56-year-old woman who is thought to have gunned down her husband last week in rural Dodge County in southeastern Minnesota. The Blooming Prairie woman — Lois Ann Riess — is believed to be armed and dangerous, according to the Dodge County sheriff’s office. The Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office identified her 54-year-old husband, David Riess, as the victim of the homicide. Riess died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.

Need some Scott Walker news? Here’s Charlie Pierce at Esquire. “The Republicans in Wisconsin are notable for not taking Rule of Law for an answer. As we noted last week, a judge appointed by Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage this particular midwest subsidiary, whacked the governor for stalling a couple of special elections just because the Democrats might win them. Up in Madison, Walker, and the Republican majorities in the state legislature, have decided to be quite contemptuous of that particular court. … Following the law is a waste of taxpayer money. Elections are a waste of taxpayer money. The devotion of the conservative order to the institutions of democracy remains almost unbearably touching. Walker, as is customary for him, is completely full of beans. Quite simply, he is employing the standard law-school definition of ‘chutzpah’ in a different context.”

Also in Wisconsin. Slate’s Molly Olmstead reports, “More than 40 students from across the state set off on what is planned to be a four-day march from Madison to Janesville, according to their website. ‘It is directed at Paul Ryan for his lead role in blocking and burying any chance of gun reform again and again,’ the group says on its website. … According to the Post, the chanting, sign-holding group has grown since it started, and teenagers and other young people reached out to the group on social media to find out how to join. On Sunday, they walked 17 miles in near-freezing weather, posting about a different victim of gun violence at each mile. They were accompanied by parents and occasionally law enforcement, according to the Post. On Sunday night, they slept on a high school gym floor.” And the chances Ryan will meet them face to face?