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Rural Minnesota continues to lose nursing homes

Plus: state officials begin to implement Minnesota’s landmark opioid law; charges brought in case of Minneapolis toddler killed by gunfire; appeals court says St. Paul legislator not immune from being sued in defamation case; and more.

Hector, MN
MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
At MPR, Peter Cox says, “Over the last two decades, nursing homes around Minnesota have been closing. And it has hit rural Minnesotans especially hard. According to data from Care Providers of Minnesota, of the 41 Minnesota nursing homes that have closed since 2007, 31 have been in rural towns.

In the Star Tribune, Torey Van Oot says, “Minnesota officials are taking the first steps to implement a landmark law to fight the opioid epidemic, opening applications for a new state panel to dole out tens of millions of dollars for addiction prevention and recovery. The law, which took effect Monday, is expected to raise $20 million a year to fight opioid addiction by sharply raising fees on the companies that make powerful prescription painkillers.”

In the Pioneer Press, Ruben Rosario writes, “The call Monday morning was unexpected. ‘This is Mike Freeman.’ ‘How the (expletive deleted) are you doing?’ I responded over the phone. ‘Your response is exactly why I called you first,’ Freeman volunteered. The Hennepin County attorney had quietly and without fanfare returned to work last Tuesday after taking a much-publicized leave of absence more than a month ago. That decision to take time off, he acknowledged to me, was a result of stress and an alcohol dependency problem for which he sought and received treatment on an outpatient basis.”

Also for MPR, Elizabeth Dunbar reports, “Xcel Energy, Minnesota’s largest utility, announced earlier this year its plans to retire two coal plants early and extend the life of a nuclear plant. It’s part of the utility’s goal to generate all electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050 to help address climate change. On Monday, Xcel filed its formal proposal — called an Integrated Resource Plan — with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, kicking off a public process in which electricity customers, environmentalists and others have a chance to weigh in.”

WCCO-TV reports: “Nearly three years after a toddler was killed by gunfire in north Minneapolis, a man faces a second-degree murder charge. Two-year-old Le’Vonte Jones was in his father’s car when a gun battle broke out – the crossfire hit and killed him. The shooting happened in the late morning of July 8, 2016, near Penn and Lowry avenues. … Chris Maurice Welch, 34, of Lexington, the alleged shooter, is charged with second-degree murder in the case.”

Also in the PiPress, Dave Orrick writes: “A state lawmaker from St. Paul is not immune from being sued by the city attorney he said shouldn’t be hired for the job, according to an appellate court ruling Monday. Last year, St. Paul City Attorney Lyndsey Olson filed a defamation suit against state Rep. John Lesch, a St. Paul Democrat, after Lesch sent a letter to Mayor Melvin Carter in which Lesch criticized Olson as “a prosecutor who would sacrifice justice in pursuit of a political win — even going so far as to commit misconduct to do so.” Olson, in her lawsuit, alleged Lesch was making “false and defamatory statements” that threaten her reputation and career.”

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Josh Dzieza continues to follow the FoxConn saga in Wisconsin for The Verge. “It’s been exactly one year since President Trump pushed a golden shovel into a field in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, breaking ground on a planned Foxconn factory he called ‘the eighth wonder of the world.’ … The last year has seen the factory shrink, get canceled, reappear, and undergo other shifts chronicled below. Even now, as concrete is finally being poured, it’s unclear what exactly Foxconn is building in Mount Pleasant. Industry experts shown Foxconn’s building plans say it does not appear to even be the scaled-down Gen6 LCD factory.”

Says Kristen Leigh Painter of the Star Tribune, “Aer Lingus begins nonstop service between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Dublin Monday. The service gives Minnesotans a new international airline and a new nonstop European destination. Here’s what you need to know: … Aer Lingus is the flag carrier of Ireland with its major hub operating at Dublin Airport..… The airline aims to set its fares at or below the U.S. mainline carriers, such as United and American airlines.”