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Hands-free bill passes first hurdle at Legislature

Plus: another Lourey wins DFL primary in special election for state Senate seat; Peterson says Democrats should ‘give Trump the money’ for a border wall; 3M highest rated Minnesota company on Fortune’s ‘most admired’ list; and more.

Photo by Alexandre Boucher on Unsplash

For MPR, Tim Pugmire reports, “In sometimes emotional testimony, family members of people killed in crashes involving distracted drivers urged House lawmakers to support of making hand-held cell phone use illegal while driving. … Under the bill, a hands-free cell phone with one-touch activation would be required for people who are driving. … The panel approved the bill on a voice vote with no audible dissent and sent it to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration. Sponsors of the bill are optimistic about its chances this year. House and Senate leaders from both parties have predicted it will pass. A Minnesota Senate committee will hold a similar hearing Wednesday on the proposed legislation.”

The AP reports: “Stu Lourey has won a Democratic primary for an open state Senate seat. Lourey eased past Michelle Lee Tuesday evening in unofficial returns for a special election in northern Minnesota. The District 11 seat opened when Lourey’s father, Tony Lourey, was named state Human Services commissioner earlier this month. Lourey moves on to face state Rep. Jason Rarick, a Republican from Pine City …  in a Feb. 5 general election. The stakes are high. Republicans hold just a two-seat edge in the Senate with the seat vacant.”

WCCO reports: “Democratic Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson says he’s not against the border wall, and there are places that need it. ‘Give Trump the money,’ Peterson said. ‘I’d give him the whole thing that he wants and put strings on so … they make sure that he puts the wall where it needs to be.’ Peterson, who represents the state’s 7th District, spoke on Fargo radio KFGO.”

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MPR’s Tim Nelson says, “Republican U.S. House Rep. Tom Emmer got an earful about the partial federal government shutdown Tuesday, at his first town-hall-style meeting he’s held in his district since the funding interruption began in December. … Carol Polzin, a retired executive from Big Lake, told Emmer she was concerned about drugs, human trafficking and crime coming in through the U.S.-Mexico border. ‘I was just so glad that we have a president who has the courage to stand alone a lot of times and do his constitutional duty and protect our friends and family and children and everybody from all the incoming abuses of our border security,’ Polzin said.”

Says Paul Walsh for the Star Tribune, “A little bit of puck luck put a lot of bucks in the pocket of a Minnesota State University student whose long shot on the ice between periods of a Mavericks home game last week earned her a cool $30,000. Morgan Ward stood in her winter boots behind the far blue line Friday night on the Mavericks’ home ice in downtown Mankato, gripped the stick and let the puck slide from more than 110 feet and through a gap in a tiny net barely bigger than the puck itself.

For MPR, Gabriel Kwan reports: “A key vote on a Minneapolis riverfront development plan has been delayed over concerns about the financial health of one of the development’s partners. … The City Council’s Economic Development and Regulatory Services Committee was expected on Tuesday to approve the plan, which envisions an outdoor amphitheater, residential housing, offices and a hotel on about 48 acres of city-owned land between the Lowry Avenue and Camden bridges in north Minneapolis. In deciding to postpone the vote, the committee cited reports that its partner Thor Construction has been sued by Sunrise Banks for not making good on its loan repayments.”

Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” list is out. And Adam Uren at Bring Me the News says: “ The highest-ranked among them is Maplewood-based 3M, the chemical and science company known for, among other inventions, Scotch Tape and Post-it Notes. It ranked 27th in the table, though this is down six places from where it ranked last year. Moving up six spots however is Minneapolis’ Target Corp., which is the world’s 32nd most-admired company having ranked 38th last year. … Rounding out Minnesota’s involvement is UnitedHealth. The health insurance company didn’t make the Top 50 last year but ranked 46th in this year’s list. Other Minnesota companies that were also mentioned for being industry leaders but didn’t crack the Top 50 include Best Buy, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Ecolab, Fastenal, General Mills, U.S. Bancorp., and Xcel Energy.”