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Walz wants to dump MNLARS system, start over

Plus: premature deaths in Minnesota far more likely in places with impoverished and minority populations; U of M creates rural stress task force; Twins success not translating into attendance; and more.

Gov. Tim Walz
Gov. Tim Walz
Says Tim Pugmire for MPR, “Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday embraced a new report that recommends pulling the plug on the troubled Minnesota Licensing and Registration System. A blue-ribbon panel formed by the governor said that the system known as MNLARS should be switched over to a private vendor and off-the-shelf software at a cost of at least $20 million. When lawmakers passed a stop-gap funding measure earlier this year to keep MNLARS repairs on track, they also required that independent experts review the system and report by May 1. ‘Our recommendation is to move to a packaged software solution,’ said Thomson Reuters vice president Rick King … .”

For the Pioneer Press, Christopher Magan reports, “Minnesota’s GOP-controlled Senate debated bans on late-term abortion and ‘gay conversion therapy’ before passing a two-year, $14 billion health and human services budget early Wednesday. The Senate voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks unless the mother is at risk of death or serious harm. The provision is intended to protect a fetus once it can feel pain. … Democrats said the abortion ban would strip women’s reproductive rights and criminalize physicians trying to provide the best care for their patients.”

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Says Jeremy Olson in the Star Tribune, “Minnesotans are less likely to die prematurely from conditions such as stroke and heart disease than people in other parts of the country, but the state’s protective benefits don’t appear to extend to poor and minority residents. Premature deaths — those that might be avoided with proper medical care — were more than twice as likely in regions of the state with the largest impoverished and minority populations, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Wednesday. While racial and economic health disparities have been documented in the state for decades, the size of the gap in death rates still shocked the state researchers.”

For MPR, Dan Gunderson writes, “The University of Minnesota has established a new rural stress task force to address a wide range of socio-economic issues. University of Minnesota Extension Dean Bev Durgan said the effort comes in response to the stress on farm families and rural communities brought on by several years of low farm income.”

MPR picks up a report from Chuck Quirmbach of WUWM in Milwaukee. “Nearly two years ago, President Trump stood in the East Room of the White House and announced that Taiwan-based Foxconn — a major supplier of Apple technology — was going to build its first U.S. manufacturing facility, outside Milwaukee. … [now] There’s even uncertainty among Wisconsin business leaders who have supported Foxconn, like Tim Sheehy, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president. Sheehy says it’s time for some real benchmarks to be met.”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “The family that founded Red’s Savoy Pizza in 1965 has sold the brand to company president Reed Daniels, who has been with the pizza chain since 2012. Edina-based Red’s Savoy, which has 18 Minnesota locations, was started by Earl “Red” Schoenheider, who died in August 2017 at the age of 82.”

In the Star Tribune, Michael Rand says, “In purely baseball terms, the early part of the season has been great for the Twins. They’re hitting home runs at a record pace. And their 17-10 start through the end of April has them positioned with the second-best record in the American League and the third-best record in MLB. That has not, however, translated into one critical area: attendance. In 14 home dates through the end of April – including three in March when the Twins opened at Target Field – the Twins averaged just 17,007 fans.”