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Lawmakers consider banning ‘conversion therapy’

Plus: 120-pound sturgeon caught on St. Croix River; St. Paul Police to end horse patrols; Fox 9’s Jeff Passolt suing state over fall; and more.

In the PiPress, Dave Orrick writes, “Armed with a wagonload of Valentine’s Day cards and stories of traumatic treatment by survivors, advocates pressed Minnesota lawmakers Wednesday to ban gay ‘conversion therapy,’ the widely discredited practice of trying to make gay people not gay. And opponents of the ban pressed lawmakers as well, armed with a First Amendment argument and testimonials from those who say ‘heterosexual-based counseling’ helped them choose to live without acting on their same-sex attractions. The issue is a major rallying cry for gay rights groups this year — and a unifying issue for social conservatives as well.”

This from WCCO-TV: “Authorities in northern Minnesota say two suspected thieves were arrested over the weekend after they were found sleeping in a cabin they’d burglarized. The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office says a deputy arrested 21-year-old Dustin Schmeda, of Minneapolis, and 25-year-old Caleb Swanson, of Crosby, on Sunday at a cabin on the 26000 block of County Road 19. The cabin’s owner had called authorities after spotting the men on his cabin’s surveillance system.”

From the Star Tribune’s Tony Kennedy: “Darren Troseth placed a death grip on his fishing rod for nearly two hours before strangers arrived to assist in landing a monster lake sturgeon that literally took their breath away. On Saturday night on the St. Croix River near Bayport, Troseth and John Kimble went to their knees and bellies inside a cramped ice shelter to wrestle the massive fish onto the surface. … Likely to go down as Minnesota’s largest record fish of any kind, the ancient-looking sturgeon was 6 feet 6 inches long, 29 inches around and weighed an estimated 120 pounds. It’s likely 60 to 70 years old.”

Also from WCCO: “One of the best-known roads in Minnesota is getting a facelift — and it will come at a cost for drivers and business owners. The Hennepin Avenue Downtown Project is set to begin after the Final Four Basketball Championship in April. The four-year project would span the thoroughfare between South 12th Street and Washington Avenue. Traffic will be one lane at times, and people will also have to deal with closures. A section between 12th to 7th streets will be closed for up to two years, and the other section will be closed for two more.”

At Twin Cities Business, Amanda Ostuni writes, “The future of Minnesota’s solar workforce is looking bright. Employment in the renewable energy’s local industry has more than doubled over the last three years, according to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census released Tuesday. In 2018 alone, the solar employee count in Minnesota increased by eight percent year-over-year as ‘solar panel installer’ ranked as the state’s fastest-growing job last year.”

KSTP-TV says, “The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy is looking to improve its Prescription Monitoring Program, a database designed to make it more difficult for people to obtain large amounts of painkillers. Executive Director Cody Wiberg tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that improvement would come through the establishment of a statewide controlled substance registration system. In Minnesota, narcotics are often dispensed through licensed pharmacies such as Walgreens or CVS.”

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WCCO-TV reports: “Soon, mounted horse patrols will no longer be on the streets of St. Paul. Police Chief Todd Axtell is ending the program, as well as motorcycle patrols. He is reassigning nine officers to patrol neighborhoods in squad cars. Three other officers will focus full time on distracted driving. The police department says injuries to mounted patrol officers doubled in the past four years. They say motorcycle officers have also been injured.”

Also in the PiPress, Sarah Horner writes, “KMSP-TV anchor Jeff Passolt was walking back to his car after interviewing then-Gov. Mark Dayton on a February day in 2017 when he slipped and fell on a patch of ice. Now he’s suing the state agency he says was responsible for maintaining the sidewalk, claiming the Minnesota Department of Administration was negligent in its care of a well-traveled pedestrian area near the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, according to a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court.”