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Minnesota Senate approves bill to fund opioid treatment with drug manufacturer licensing fee

Plus: hands-free driving bill stalls in state Senate; St. Paul school board to rescind policy that discourages holiday celebrations; Minneapolis to pay $193,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by TV anchor Alix Kendall; and more.

Minnesota Senate
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach

In the PiPress, Christopher Magan writes, “Minnesota is a step closer to raising revenue from pharmaceutical companies to fund addiction treatment and prevention to address the state’s opioid crisis. With a 60-6 vote the Minnesota Senate overwhelmingly approved an opioid stewardship bill Thursday. The legislation would raise $20 million a year from licensing fees on drug manufacturers and distributors to help communities, addicts and their children deal with the fallout from the crisis.” 

Not moving quite as well. Dave Orrick of the PiPress says, “Minnesota families who have lost loved ones in distracted-driving crashes cranked up their push at the state Capitol on Thursday, May 10, to require hands-free driving. … They scored a victory as the bill marched with strong bipartisan support through a key committee toward the House floor, but also found themselves frustrated by the Senate, where the top lawmaker has said it faces an uphill climb. The proposal would essentially ban drivers from handling a cellphone while driving — regardless of whether it be texting, Facebooking or making a call.”

An end to the War on Christmas/Kwanzaa/Purim/Feast of the Holy Rollers, etc.? At MPR Solvejg Wastvedt says, “The St. Paul school board is moving toward rescinding a policy that discourages holiday celebrations. … A board committee recommended at a recent meeting that the policy be withdrawn.”

News of the Weird, double-headed fawn edition. The KSTP-TV story says, “Back in 2016, a Minnesota mushroom hunter came across a unique find: a pair of conjoined deer fawns.  According to the University of Georgia, where the fawns were studied, the deer will be making their way back to Minnesota to be displayed at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources headquarters. A skeletal display will be kept at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Anatomy Museum.  The conjoined twin deer were located near Freeburg in May 2016. When studied by researchers, it was learned the twin deer had two separate necks and heads but shared a body.”

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As much a ritual as the opener itself. Says Mary Lynn Smith in the Strib, “In an effort to exercise what they say are their treaty rights, Chippewa tribal members plan to fish on Lake Bemidji one day before the Minnesota fishing opener. The one-day ‘fish-off’ protest was sparked by the tribe’s opposition to a new Enbridge pipeline across northern Minnesota, to be built either in a new corridor across ceded land where tribal members exercise their rights to hunt, fish and gather food, or in the existing corridor that crosses two reservations.”

Says Maya Rao for the Strib, “U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen is joining a bipartisan effort in Congress to encourage states to pass laws that let law enforcement take firearms from people determined to be a danger to themselves or others. The measure unveiled this week is named for Jake Laird, an Indiana police officer shot to death in 2004 by a man with mental illness. Nine states including Indiana have passed some variation on the so-called ‘red flag’ laws, and the congressional proposal would provide grants meant to incentivize other states to do so. Minnesota does not currently have such a law.” Still sounds like gun-grabbin’ to me.

Today in protecting and serving. Says Adam Belz in the Strib, “The city of Minneapolis is poised to pay $193,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by Alix Kendall, a TV anchor whose personal drivers license information was repeatedly looked up by Minneapolis police officers for no good reason. Kendall’s was one of the few remaining cases in a years-long saga involving over-curious cops who clicked into the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services database to look at photographs, addresses and driving records of dozens of Minnesotans, many of them celebrities. Kendall sued 169 cities and counties after learning her private information had been accessed 3,844 times over nine years.” Meanwhile, how many expired tabs were overlooked?

Guns don’t hurt people; dogs with guns hurt people. The AP says, “An Iowa man says his dog inadvertently shot him while they were roughhousing Wednesday. Fifty-one-year-old Richard Remme, of Fort Dodge, told police he was playing with his dog, Balew, on the couch and tossed the dog off his lap. He says when the pit bull-Labrador mix bounded back up, he must have disabled the safety on the gun in his belly band and stepped on the trigger. The gun fired, striking one of Remme’s legs. He was treated at a hospital and released later that day.” When I’m home playing with the dog I always keep a loaded gun tucked in my belly band.