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Divided Legislature very divided over gas tax hike

Plus: Walz says State of the State address to focus on working across the aisle; Children’s Minnesota hospital opens clinic for transgender and gender-diverse youth; Nice Ride rides out of St. Paul; and more.

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
Minnesota State Capitol
Forum Communications’ Dana Ferguson writes: “A proposed gas tax appears to lack the fuel it needs to travel through the Legislature. A GOP-led committee on Tuesday, April 2, voted to sink a pared-back version of Gov. Tim Walz’s proposal to hike the tax on gasoline by 20 cents per gallon and increase other fees to fund road and bridge repairs. On the same day, House Democrats re-upped their support for the tax increase and offered their pitch to boost transportation funding, complete with additional boosts in taxes and fees. With six weeks left in the legislative session, the plan’s prospects seem bumpy at best in the divided Legislature.”

The Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson reports, “The complex medical and psychological needs of transgender and gender-diverse youth have prompted Children’s Minnesota to launch a new clinic to provide more timely treatment and information to children and their parents. While almost 3 percent of Minnesota’s high school students identify as gender diverse, this substantial population of children often doesn’t know where to turn when they first have questions about gender and identity, said Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, medical director of the clinic, which started scheduling appointments today and will open to patients on April 22.”

Also from the Forum’s Ferguson: “In his first State of the State address Wednesday, April 3, Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor [Tim Walz] said he’ll focus on the importance of working across the political aisle to get things done. The speech is set to come a day after House Democrats pitched a plan to support Walz’s proposed 20-cent-per-gallon tax hike on gasoline and a GOP-led Senate panel voted it down, setting up a bumpy path forward for the proposal. And while leaders in the DFL-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-led Senate have presented budget pitches and slates of proposals that make compromise appear unlikely, they’ve said it’s not out of the question.”

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For MPR, Jon Collins says, “Six members of the jury pool in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor have been excused from service because of answers they provided on a jury questionnaire. Most of the excused potential jurors expressed anti-Somali sentiments or said they’ve already decided that Noor is guilty or not guilty.”

Also at MPR, this from Matt Sepic, “Nice Ride bikes will be back on Minneapolis streets by mid-April, but the bicycle sharing service will no longer be available in St. Paul. Nice Ride says it’s expanding its service in Minneapolis, with more bike parking hubs and stations, pedal assist electric bikes and a new reduced fare membership program. However, in a statement, Nice Ride says Minneapolis and St. Paul have ‘gone down different paths for shared mobility operators and Nice Ride won’t be in St. Paul this riding season.’”

Pete Kotz at City Pages says, “Take a bow, Minnesota. Despite these times of weirdness and despair, you’ve managed to withstand the anxiety delivered unto the rest of the nation. You, in fact, are America’s least stressed state. Though that’s a difficult claim to empirically make, WalletHub has taken an interesting shot at quantifying stress. It collected data for things like unemployment, wage growth, bankruptcies, credit scores, divorce rates, housing costs, suicide, health care premiums, and the like. Then it weighed it all state-by-state to produce composite scores. Minnesota came in as the least stressed, followed by Utah, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and South Dakota.”

James MacPherson of the AP reports, “Some Republican North Dakota House members abstained Tuesday from an opening floor session prayer by a Hindu cleric, marking the second time in recent years some GOP representatives have objected to an invocation from a non-Christian. Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism in Nevada, offered prayer as the guest chaplain in the House, a day after delivering the invocation in the Senate without incident.