Republican candidates embrace, avoid Trump amid Duluth visit

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump

MPR’s Brian Bakst reports: “President Trump remains popular in parts of Minnesota. But the backlash to his recent policy moves has some state Republicans treading lightly as they weigh going all-in or keeping some distance during the president’s Wednesday visit to Duluth. Trump narrowly lost Minnesota to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race but soundly beat her in northeastern Minnesota’s 8th District. … Minnesota Republican candidates, however, are not united on embracing Trump when Air Force One touches down.”

Not surprisingly, Trump’s visit to Duluth today is getting heavy security. Says a News Tribune story, “The U.S. Coast Guard announced that security restrictions will be in place on portions of the Duluth harbor on Wednesday afternoon as part of President Donald Trump’s visit to Duluth. The Coast Guard will enforce two security zones on northern and central portions of the harbor, including the Duluth ship canal, East Gate Basin and around the Blatnik Bridge. … Trump is expected to arrive in Duluth about two hours before he plans to speak at a campaign rally at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Amsoil Arena. Prior to the rally, he’s expected to attend a roundtable event at an undisclosed location on the Duluth waterfront.”

Budget cuts for St. Paul schools. For KSTP-TV, Beth McDonough reports: “For the first time in many years, the St. Paul School District expects to see an increase in enrollment in the fall. The student population is expected to be nearly 35,000. That’s after a prolonged period of enrollment decreases, which district leaders say is partly to blame for the budget woes facing the second largest school district in the state. Tuesday night, board members wrangled with how to balance the budget, when more money is going out than coming in… $17 million more. Leaders debated where to make the necessary cuts in the $750 million dollar budget and by how much.”

Speaking of St. Paul … The Star Tribune’s Chao Xiong reports: “St. Paul police officers recorded more than 19,000 hours of body-camera footage in the first three months of the year, according to information the department released Tuesday. A review of some of the footage showed room for improvement in terms of officer compliance, but overall results were encouraging, police Chief Todd Axtell said about the department’s use of the devices, which started rolling out late last year. … Axtell released the audit’s results Tuesday ahead of a presentation about it scheduled for Wednesday’s City Council meeting.”

Meth is forcing changes at the DEA. Stephen Montemayor of the Strib says, “Federal drug enforcement operations in Minnesota are being shuffled with the creation of a new Midwestern field division that officials anticipate will focus heavily on meth saturating the region. Starting next month, the Minneapolis office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will join Nebraska, Iowa and the Dakotas as part of a new branch based in Omaha. … It is just the second new field division established in more than 20 years by the DEA … .”

Now Roseville. Lucas Johnson at the PiPress reports, “Roseville City Council unanimously voted Monday to raise the tobacco sales age to 21, a measure the council hopes will protect youth from the dangers of smoking. Roseville became the 11th Minnesota city to enact the measure, joining Edina, Bloomington and Minneapolis, among others.” 

The Bon Iver Express? Says Janet Moore of the Strib, “The bold idea may seem far-fetched given the travails of publicly bankrolled transit projects in the Twin Cities, such as the $2 billion Southwest light-rail line. But the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition, an Eau Claire-based non-profit group of representatives from business, education, government and others, has been working on the idea for nearly two decades. Emboldened by privately funded transit projects in Florida and Texas, the Trump administration’s support of public-private partnerships to bolster the nation’s infrastructure, the Eau Claire coalition is shoring up financing to move forward. The cost to build the line ranges from $100 million to $250 million, and planners say fares will likely cover the cost of operating it.”

More details on Minnesota woman who allegedly killed her husband and another woman in Florida. From the AP: “The state attorney’s office for Lee County, Fla., released about 2,600 documents on Monday showing the day-to-day actions of Riess, charged with first-degree murder in the April 9 fatal shooting of Pamela Hutchinson in Fort Myers. Officials believe Riess targeted Hutchinson because they looked alike and because Riess wanted to assume Hutchinson’s identity. Riess, 56, garnered national news attention when she led authorities on a cross-country manhunt before she was captured on April 19 in Texas. Riess’ saga began in late March, when David Riess, 54, was found dead at the couple’s Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, home. Lois Riess forged checks to steal $11,000 from her husband’s account, traveled south to Florida and landed in Fort Myers, prosecutors say.”

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