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GOP priorities for 2020 Legislature: bonding bill, tax cuts, addressing prescription drug costs

Plus: Walz proposes $447 million in borrowing for higher ed projects; Ellison wades into Bremer dispute; pregnant woman driving stolen car crashes on I-94; and more.

Minnesota State Capitol
MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson

For the Duluth News Tribune, Sarah Mearhoff writes, “At a Monday, Jan. 13, news conference, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, released Senate Republicans’ priorities come Feb. 11: passing a bonding bill, lowering taxes and prescription costs, incentivizing school choice, moving the state toward cleaner energy and more. … On taxes, Gazelka reiterated his support of 2019’s middle-class income tax cut, but said more needs to be done. With Minnesota to see a $1.3 billion surplus in the 2020-21 biennium, Gazelka said taxpayers ‘deserve some back’ — primarily senior citizens.”

MPR’s Tim Pugmire reports: “DFL Gov. Tim Walz on Monday announced $447 million in proposed borrowing for projects on college campuses throughout the state. Walz made the announcement at Anoka-Ramsey Community College as part of a series of presentations highlighting the major areas of his bonding proposal, which is expected to reach about $2 billion. A final announcement on public safety-related projects is expected Wednesday. Republicans have already criticized the governor’s proposal for being too big.”

The Star Tribune’s Evan Ramstad writes: “Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Monday that he is investigating the circumstances of the proposed sale of Bremer Bank and has asked for a delay in litigation surrounding the deal. The move adds yet another player to the battle over the future of the state’s fourth-largest bank and comes just days after a group of Bremer shareholding employees filed suit to intervene. The charitable trust that controls a majority of the bank’s shares argues that a sale would provide more money to fulfill its philanthropic mission.”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo says, “At a time when nursing homes and assisted living facilities are scrambling to find employees who can balance a strong work ethic with sensitivity to the needs of vulnerable adults, Jane Graupman believes she has just the solution. In a word? Refugees. … Graupman, executive director of the International Institute of Minnesota, is able to place almost all the graduates of her 8- to 11-week medical assistance training program. Down the street from her Como Avenue headquarters, some 75 percent of the nursing assistants at the St. Anthony Park Home transitional and hospice care facility are institute graduates, as are many of the registered nurses.”

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Says Susan Elizabeth-Littlefield for WCCO-TV, “When you think of college, you likely think of living on a shoestring budget — but that’s becoming less of a possibility in the Dinkytown neighborhood. Luxury apartments are a growing trend near the University of Minnesota’s east bank campus. … U students Carson Almquist and Joe Ramon live in the Hub. ‘Places like this offer an experience that other colleges may not, like we have a hot tub on the top floor. It’s kind of a nice amenity,’ Almquist said. The new building will also have a yoga studio and cabana lounges.”

KSTP-TV reports: “A Minneapolis woman, who is nine months pregnant, was driving a stolen car on Interstate 94 in Wright County before she crashed Sunday night. According to a Minnesota State Patrol crash report, 27-year-old Victoria Eileen Harwell was traveling west on I-94 near mile marker 197 at about 11 p.m. when she lost control of the Chrysler Sebring she was driving and slid into the center median. … Neither Harwell nor her passenger were injured, but Harwell was transported to a hospital as a precautionary measure due to stomach pain.”

For Fox News, Andrew O’Reilly reports, “A Wisconsin judge on Monday found the state’s Elections Commission and three of its members in contempt of court and ordered the commission to remove up to 209,000 names from the state’s voter rolls, in a case that could have major implications later this year in a key battleground state. Saying in his ruling that ‘time is of the essence,’ Judge Paul Malloy said that there is no time to wait for the case to make its way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and ordered that the state pay $50 a day until it starts removing people from the voter rolls.”

For MPR, Matt Mikus reports, “With only about 11 percent of state identification cards in compliance with new federal standards, officials are again reminding Minnesotans that the Oct. 1 Real ID deadline isn’t that far off. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety estimates 3.7 million people will need to decide how they’ll meet the new standards if they want to get on a domestic flight. After Oct. 1, Real ID licenses or cards will be needed at airport security checkpoints and for certain federal facilities. Minnesotans who still have a standard driver’s license can also use a passport.”