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As budget talks drag on at Minnesota Capitol, lawmakers take steps to avoid shutdown

Plus: school districts across Minnesota win approval for $539 million worth of projects; inmate charged with running Woodbury prostitution ring from jail; heavy rains expected this weekend; and more.

State Sen. Roger Chamberlain
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain presented a bill on Thursday that would extend state government funding should legislative leaders reach an impasse in negotiations.
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

The Forum news services’ Dana Ferguson writes: “State lawmakers are laying out a contingency plan should budget negotiations in the nation’s only divided Legislature fall flat. Members of the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, May 16, on a party-line vote advanced a bill that would continue state funding at levels slightly above existing ones if legislative leaders and the governor can’t strike a budget deal before Monday, May 20. Closed-door negotiations continued Thursday between House and Senate leaders along with Gov. Tim Walz, but details of those talks remained private.”

In the Star Tribune, Mara Klecker says, “School districts across the state this week received voter endorsement of construction and renovation projects topping $539 million. Voters approved seven of 15 building referendums on Tuesday. The eight that failed were all in greater Minnesota and would have totaled more than $250 million in building projects. … The largest of the rejected funding requests was in Owatonna, which had sought voter approval for $116 million to construct a new high school. That number had been scaled back from $138 million after $22 million in offers of cash and materials from major employers in the city.”

This from MPR: “Minnesota saw a slight uptick in its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April, although the state gained 3,600 jobs, state officials said Thursday. The jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percent from March, coming in at 3.3 percent, as the number of unemployed Minnesotan’s topped 100,000 for the first time since August 2017, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6 percent.”

In the Pioneer Press, Mary Divine reports, “A jail inmate was charged Thursday with running a prostitution ring in Woodbury from his jail cell in the Kanabec County Jail in Mora, Minn. Washington County prosecutors say Daniel David Ellington, 38, of Brooklyn Park communicated with a sex worker by text and ‘advised, organized, promoted and profited’ from prostitution activities in Woodbury last month.”

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At MPR, Paul Huttner says, “If I could control the weather, this weekend’s forecast would be radically different. Keep dreaming. Two low-pressure waves ride north toward Minnesota this weekend. Isolated rain and thunderstorms develop in southern Minnesota Friday morning and spread north. More widespread rain and thunder arrive Friday night. Periods of rain this weekend will be heavy at times. … Heavy rainfall could add up to several inches this weekend.

The Star Tribune’s Emma Nelson writes: “Some St. Paul City Council members are calling for the resignation of interim Council Member Kassim Busuri, following the launch Thursday of his campaign for the Sixth Ward seat — a role he promised not to seek permanently. In a campaign announcement Thursday, Busuri said he ‘had no intention of running for office’ when he took the seat, but has since decided to run.”