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Class action lawsuit over Minnesota sex offender program comes to an end

Plus: Minneapolis officials pledge to help residents of homeless encampment; minimum-wage workers to get raise starting Jan. 1; St. Paul men accused of expansive retail theft operation; and more.

MSOP campus in Moose Lake
MinnPost file photo by Briana Bierschbach

Says Steve Karnowski for the AP,A long-running class-action lawsuit over the constitutionally of Minnesota’s civil commitment program for sex offenders effectively ended Thursday when a federal judge dismissed the remaining claims but stood by his earlier statements that some revelations during the six-week trial shock his conscience. U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank cited a 2017 decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned his 2015 declaration that the program was unconstitutional because few people had ever been released from the program since began in the mid-1990s. The U.S. Supreme Court last October declined to hear the case, letting the 8th Circuit’s ruling stand and the program to continue operating as it was.””

John Reinan in the Star Tribune reports, “Minnesota’s minimum-wage workers will get a raise starting Jan. 1, state officials announced Thursday. An adjustment for inflation will raise the statewide minimum wage from $9.65 to $9.86 an hour for workers at companies with annual gross revenue of $500,000 or more. Employees at smaller companies will see the minimum wage go from $7.87 to $8.04 an hour. The youth wage rate — paid to workers younger than 18 — also will go up to $8.04 an hour, as will the training wage that may be paid to employees under age 20 for the first 90 consecutive days of employment. About 219,000 people — or 8.4 percent of the state’s workforce — are paid minimum wage.”

In the Pioneer Press, Mary Divine writes, “When a fire broke out at their Stillwater house on Monday morning, Dan Hintze and Lindsay Belland’s kids knew what to do. Their oldest son, Collin Hintze, 14, ran upstairs to rescue his 6-year-old sister Lorelai, who has special needs. Daughter Ella Belland, 13, ran outside to get help. ‘When seconds counted, they did exactly what they were supposed to do,’ Lindsay Belland said Thursday. ‘They didn’t panic, and they are 14 and 13. I feel like most adults would panic. They really acted in a way that was far beyond their years’. … On Thursday, Belland walked through the charred remains of the house, which is a total loss.”

At MPR, Nina Moini reports, “Minneapolis officials said Thursday that the number of people at a homeless encampment on the city’s south side has doubled in a week — and the city outlined steps it plans to take to help the camp’s residents. Calling it an unsafe environment, the city and various community nonprofit organizations are teaming up to help the 120 people living in tents near East Franklin and Hiawatha avenues. Mayor Jacob Frey and other officials said the goal is to get everyone out of what’s being called the Franklin-Hiawatha Encampment by the end of September.”

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Also for MPR, Cody Nelson says, “Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson believes climate change is happening, but he doesn’t want to do anything about it. Johnson’s position on climate change came up during last Friday’s gubernatorial debate aired on Twin Cities Public Television where he suggested that plans to combat global warming wouldn’t do any good. ‘There is a consensus that the plans are out there to deal with climate change somehow aren’t going to change anything in the long run. They just won’t make a difference. Even if we do it on a nationwide scale, but if we do it on a statewide scale, even less so,’ he said in the debate with DFL candidate Tim Walz.”

Also, here’s MPR’s Matt Sepic: “Two Twin Cities men are facing racketeering charges in connection with an alleged shoplifting ring that targeted metro area retailers over a period of years. Authorities say the suspects stole around $1 million worth of merchandise and sold it at a discount on eBay. The investigation began in late June when Woodbury police arrested Brian James Bowling, 45, when he left a J.C. Penney store with a $1,400 mattress. According to the criminal complaint, Bowling, of St. Paul, soon admitted to officers that he stole the mattress, as well as other items, and sold them to 54-year-old Randal David Simmons of Landfall, who’s also charged.”