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Federal lawsuit seeks to reopen Minnesota churches on First Amendment grounds

Plus: Foot traffic mixed as Minnesota shops allowed to reopen; Stearns County bar owner says he won’t defy state order; Cub Foods’ Minnesota stores return to normal operating hours; and more.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Says Andy Mannix in the Star Tribune, “Two churches suing Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz over his stay-at-home order asked a judge on Monday to fully reopen places of worship, alleging the relaxed restrictions starting this week continue to violate their First Amendment rights. In a federal lawsuit, attorneys for the churches say Walz is ‘treating religious organizations as second-class citizens’ by limiting their services to 10 people while allowing more retailers and small businesses to open at 50% capacity.”

For KARE-TV, Jeremiah Jacobson says, “Minnesota’s Native American-owned and operated casinos are making plans to reopen for visitors, with one choosing to open immediately after the end of the state’s Stay at Home order. Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort in Granite Falls opened its doors at noon on Monday, May 18, the first day of Minnesota’s new Stay Safe MN order. … Meantime, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community announced Mystic Lake and Little Six Casinos will reopen in Prior Lake on Tuesday, May 26.”

Kavita Kumar, John Ewoldt and Pam Louwagie write in the Star Tribune: “Foot traffic was mixed as shops across Minnesota were allowed to reopen Monday for the first time in two months. There were few customers at the stores along Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Same at the popular tourist shops in Duluth. At Rosedale Center, though, a small crowd waited for doors to open at 11 a.m. Some shoppers walked right back out when they saw that Foot Locker and many other stores were still closed.”

MPR’s Catharine Rickert writes: “These days, Dakota — the native language of the Prairie Island Indian Community — isn’t widely spoken. But the tribe is trying to change that and the pandemic has offered them an unusual opportunity to do so: by bringing language classes online, they’ve been able to reach more members than ever before.”

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This from Randy Furst of the Star Tribune, “Low-income tenants in south Minneapolis will gain control of five apartment buildings from embattled ex-landlord Stephen Frenz, ending a bitter fight after complaints of substandard conditions and attempted evictions. The sale of the buildings in the Corcoran neighborhood on Monday means Frenz has lost or sold off all of the 60-plus apartment buildings he once owned in Minneapolis.”

At USA Today Kelly Tyko reports, “Days after filing for bankruptcy, J.C. Penney says it plans to close more than a fourth of its stores.  According to a document filed with the Securities and Exchanges Commission on Monday, approximately 29% of the retailer’s 846 stores, or 242 locations, will close between the current fiscal year and next fiscal year.  For the current fiscal year, which ends in February 2021, 192 stores are expected to close and then 50 in the next fiscal year, the document notes.”

John Reinan and Stephen Montemayor of the Star Tribune write, “Wiping tears from his eyes, the owner of a Stearns County bar and restaurant told a disappointed crowd of supporters Monday that he wouldn’t be opening for business in defiance of a state order. … Just before the publicized noon opening, Stearns County Judge William Cashman issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Shady’s chain of six restaurants from opening for dine-in service Monday. Cashman ordered all parties to appear in court May 22 for a hearing on a lawsuit brought by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.”

In the Pioneer Press, Nick Ferraro says, “Cub Foods said Monday that all of its 63 stores in Minnesota would be returning to normal operating hours effective immediately. In addition, the Stillwater-based company has extended through June 6 the $2 per hour wage bonus for employees and the increase in overtime rates to double the new rate per hour.”

Also in the Pioneer Press, this from Kristi BelCamino, “Union workers at the St. Paul Hotel and St. Paul Grill received an email Saturday saying their jobs would be ‘permanently’ eliminated, although a union official cast doubt on the ‘permanently’ part. Christa Mello, a spokesperson from Minnesota Hospitality Union Local 17, said the only way the company could permanently terminate jobs under the union contract is if the hotel and grill are shutting their doors for good. Mello said she asked if that was happening on Friday and was told the hotel and grill were not closing.”