The AP reports, “Minnesota officials are preparing to release an updated economic forecast that will guide the shaping of the state’s next two-year budget, and it’s expected to show a smaller surplus than they projected in December. Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans and other administration officials will present the forecast Thursday, along with Gov. Tim Walz. Frans projected a $1.5 billion surplus back in December, but some measures of national economic growth have been slowing. Reflecting that uncertainty, the budget that the governor unveiled last week left about half the surplus unallocated.
In the Star Tribune, Torey Van Oot says, “Minnesota schools digging out from this winter’s spate of weather-related closures could have more flexibility to count snow days as regular instruction under a legislative proposal unveiled Wednesday. Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said the goal of her bill, which she’s calling the ‘Snow Day Relief Act,’ is to allow schools to meet state calendar requirements and better serve students.”
KSTP reports: “A Minnesota House committee has voted to require universal criminal background checks for gun purchasers. As the Legislature took up the contentious issue of gun control for the first time this session, the House public safety committee approved the bill on a 9-7 vote late Wednesday night. The bill next goes to the Judiciary Committee.”
Also, this from Stribber Libor Jany: “A Minneapolis police officer who has been on paid administrative leave since winning back his job in late 2016 was fired again this week, as was another officer, both for unspecified misconduct, according to sources. Officers Blayne Lehner and Dustin DuPre were dismissed from the department Monday, bringing to three the number of officers fired by Chief Medaria Arradondo in the past two weeks.”
MPR’s Cody Nelson reports: “The Environmental Protection Agency is letting an increasing number of polluters get away with breaking the law while exposing people nationwide to health risks — including two ‘major violations’ in Minnesota …. The nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project’s report analyzed 20 years of EPA data and court records. It found the agency charged a historically low number of polluters in crimes in the 2018 fiscal year and, as a result, violators paid less in fines for cleanup.”
In the Pioneer Press, Dana Ferguson says, “About eight years after the creation of the state’s hub for information technology services, reviews of the agency yielded mixed results. That’s according to a Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor report released Wednesday. While the state is better positioned to fight cybersecurity threats and can leverage the agency’s size to get better deals on software purchases, it’s hard to say if consolidating the state’s IT resources improved efficiency or spending, the report said.”
The AP says, “Authorities in Wisconsin have released 911 calls and police video that show the chaos of a deadly, 131-car pile-up during whiteout conditions. Sunday’s chain-reaction crash on southbound Interstate 41 near Neenah, about 100 miles northwest of Milwaukee, killed a 30-year-old schoolteacher and injured 71 others. One woman called 911 to report she was just in an accident. She said she ‘can’t see anything’ and ‘everybody’s just crashing into us.’ She later screams and says, ‘My car’s just shaking. I don’t feel safe in the car.’”
Nick Woltman of the PiPress says, “The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Tuesday posted a hypnotic video on Facebook of supersize snowblowers mowing down enormous drifts on Interstate 35 after last weekend’s blizzard. The video, which had already racked up 80,000 views by 8 p.m., was shot near the southeastern Minnesota town of Ellendale, where nearly a foot of snow fell over the weekend.”