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Survey: Half of Minnesota educators would rather resume distance learning than return to classroom this fall

Plus: Walz signs police accountability bill into law; rejected absentee ballots in Wisconsin primary could portend trouble for general election; MN Department of Corrections lays off 48 employees; The Growler magazine folds; and more.

In the Pioneer Press, Emma Harville writes: “About half of Minnesota educators want to resume distance learning rather than return to the classroom this fall, according to a new teachers union survey. Education Minnesota says 49 percent of respondents would prefer to do their jobs remotely instead of teaching in-person. Among educators of color, that figure was nearly 60 percent. More than 20,000 members were surveyed, the union said.”

From the AP: “Gov. Tim Walz signed a police accountability bill into law Thursday that includes a ban on neck restraints like the one that was used on George Floyd before his death in Minneapolis. The bill, passed by the Legislature earlier this week, also bans chokeholds and so-called warrior-style training, which critics say promotes excessive force. It imposes a duty to intercede on officers who see a colleague using excessive force.

In a story for APM Reports and Wisconsin Watch, Tom Scheck, Geoff Hing and Dee J. Hall write: “For months, President Donald Trump has alleged without evidence that any expansion of mail-in voting in the 2020 election will lead to ‘tremendous’ fraud and a ‘rigged’ election. But an APM Reports analysis of voter data from Wisconsin’s April primary shows a far more measurable and consequential effect of mail-in voting — rejected ballots. Slightly more than 23,000 ballots were thrown out, mostly because those voters or their witnesses missed at least one line on a form. While there is no way of knowing who those voters will choose in November, the figure is nearly equivalent to Trump’s 2016 margin of victory in Wisconsin of 22,748 votes. And with voter turnout expected to double from April to more than 3 million in November, a proportionate volume of ballot rejections could be the difference in who wins the swing state and possibly the presidency.”

WCCO-TV reports: “Wisconsin is giving high school sports the green light for the fall season.… The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association board voted 8-3 Thursday morning to allow high school fall sports to practice. …Wade Labecki, deputy director of the WIAA, says it will be too difficult to have state championship tournaments this year.… He said they voted to start practice for lower risk fall sports, including cross country, girls golf, girls swim and girls tennis, which can begin Aug. 17. Practice for football, boys soccer and volleyball can begin Sept. 7.”

The AP reports: “Police on Thursday arrested a South Dakota man in a 1974 cold-case homicide in Minnesota after using DNA to link him to the killing 46 years ago. Authorities arrested the 79-year-old man without incident at his home in Sioux Falls. He was arrested on a warrant for second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of 74-year-old Mae Herman of Willmar, in western Minnesota, Willmar Police Chief Jim Felt said in a news release.”

Says Dan Gunderson for MPR, “An increase in boat traffic and gatherings like this on popular lakes has led to an increase in complaints about noise, trespassing on private beaches and boats blocking docks. It’s another ripple effect of COVID-19, showing up here on the lakes of Otter Tail County. With vacations canceled and long-distance travel at a minimum, people are staying close to home — and more boats on the water has meant more complaints about noise and trespassing on private beaches.”

Says Liz Sawyer for the Star Tribune, “The Minnesota Department of Corrections has laid off 48 employees to meet ‘unforeseen budget shortfalls’ related to the corona­virus pandemic, officials said. In an e-mail to state legislators last week, a senior staffer explained that compounding factors such as contractual salary increases, ballooning overtime for officers and loss of revenue from the agency’s industrial MINNCOR program were to blame for a $4.2 million deficit. Balancing the budget would require a reduction in staffing.”

WCCO-TV also reports: “Tech giant Intel has reportedly asked for a campaign contribution refund from U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-1st District) after he made a social media post saying that Black Lives Matter protesters were ‘at war’ with the country and ‘western culture.’ … Intel is asking Hagedorn to refund the $4,000 it donated to his campaign in 2018. In a statement, the tech company told the website that it would not make future contributions to Hagedorn as his recent statements do not align with the company’s values.”

For KMSP-TV Allie Johnson says, “Minnesota banks want people to empty their piggy banks of coins to help alleviate a national coin shortage.  The Minnesota Bankers Association is asking consumers to spend their small change or deposit it at their local bank as the ‘pandemic-related shutdowns have created a critical slowdown of coin circulation nationwide’, according to a news release.”

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MPR’s Brian Bakst reports, “Security fencing around Minnesota’s Capitol is on the verge of coming down, but the displaced statue of Christopher Columbus won’t be going back up anytime soon. Updates on timing around both were provided Thursday by Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and another official in Gov. Tim Walz’ administration. Flanagan said a decision on whether to reinstall the Columbus statue outside the Capitol is at least six months away — probably longer.”

Says Jess Fleming for the Pioneer Press, “The Growler magazine has folded. The free publication, which focused on craft beer and food, announced its demise with a letter posted on its website by owner and founder Matt Kenevan. Kenevan said the magazine started the year on good footing but the pandemic caused it to lose advertising from the hard-hit food and beverage industry.”