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Churches, businesses sue Walz over coronavirus-related executive orders

Plus: conditions at central Minnesota meatpacking plant amid COVID-19 outbreak spur calls for investigation; 3M plans to triple production of N95 masks after winning contracts; Great River Energy to close its Coal Creek Station power plant; and more.

Gov. Tim Walz
Gov. Tim Walz
Says the Star Tribune’s Andy Mannix: “Two Twin Cities churches and several business owners are calling on Gov. Tim Walz to end what they call an unconstitutional and draconian scheme to close them during the pandemic, saying the partial shutdown has violated their constitutional rights. In a federal lawsuit filed in Minnesota on Wednesday, the group alleges Walz’s executive orders during the pandemic unfairly pick ‘winners and losers’ by closing some businesses, schools and places of worship, while allowing big-box stores and others to remain open.”

A WCCO-TV story says, “The Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) says it’s calling on federal officials to investigate conditions at a central Minnesota meat packing plant where workers are reporting unsafe conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement Thursday, CAIR says it has asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate Pilgrim’s Pride Poultry in Cold Spring.”

For MPR, Jon Collins says, “Although most major retailers are requiring employees to wear masks while working, some stop short of requiring customers to also wear masks while shopping. Major grocery stores changed their policies early on to allow employees to voluntarily wear masks, said Jennifer Christensen, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189, which represents grocery workers at stores like Cub Foods and Kowalski’s Markets. … Christensen said there appears to be a growing understanding among members of the public that wearing masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. … ‘As masks become more available, more customers will be wearing them.’”

In the Pioneer Press, Nick Woltman writes: “3M plans to triple its monthly domestic production of N95 masks after winning a pair of contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense worth more than $200 million. The Maplewood-based company expects to be producing 96 million of the desperately needed respirator masks at its U.S. manufacturing facilities by October, according to a Thursday news release.”

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Says the Star Tribune’s Rochelle Olson, “The University of Minnesota is preparing for students to return to campus this fall, a situation that would shelter the land-grant system from huge financial fallout, according to administrators who presented a budget outline to the Board of Regents on Thursday. That’s the current and most optimistic of the three scenarios President Joan Gabel presented to the Board of Regents on Thursday.”

Also from the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “Great River Energy, which supplies electricity to suburban Twin Cities and much of greater Minnesota, will close its Coal Creek Station power plant and switch from coal to mostly wind power by late 2022. The station, located near Underwood, is the largest coal plant in North Dakota. The cooperative announced Thursday it will build 600 megawatts of wind power in southern and western Minnesota and review proposals for an additional 500 megawatts of renewable energy in Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.”

KSTP-TV reports: “Friday, Minnesota state leaders are expected to provide guidance for schools on conducting graduation ceremonies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker, Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson, and Department of Health Epidemiologist and COVID-19 School Liaison Susan Klammer are expected to announce guidance developed jointly by the three departments. … Many schools have begun discussing various ideas for how to honor the Class of 2020 amid the pandemic, with several moving back possible ceremony dates or offering virtual options.”

At MPR, Martin Mylan reports, “Last fall, Brion Finlay of Brooklyn Park was contemplating new employment opportunities. As part of that process, the 42-year-old Googled himself. Near the top of the results page was a profile on the website of a company called MyLife. ‘And it just said, I have a criminal record,’ he recalled. ‘I’m thinking, ‘What is this?’ I don’t have a criminal record. This worries me.’ … A lot of lawyer friends told Finlay it wasn’t worth his time to go after MyLife. But one attorney, his pal Dave Madgett in Wayzata, disagreed. … Finlay is now Madgett’s lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against MyLife. The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis alleges MyLife defames consumers and violates consumer protection laws. The suit seeks compensation for damage to reputation and invasion of privacy.”

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