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GOP-backed suit challenges Minnesota’s mask mandate

Plus: analysis reveals Minneapolis faces legal barriers to eliminating police officers; Minneapolis Charter Commission to vote on policing ballot question Wednesday; young woman rescued from a hole; and more.

face mask sign
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

For the Forum News Service, Dana Ferguson writes: “A group of Republican lawmakers and voters on Tuesday said it plans to bring a federal lawsuit against the Walz administration contending the governor’s mandate of face masks in public places, including polling places, violates state law and Minnesotans’ constitutional rights. A handful of voters along with the watchdog Minnesota Voters Alliance brought the action after voters said they were confused about whether they would violate existing state law by wearing a mask to vote in the Aug. 11 primary election or opting not to wear one.”

Says Liz Navratil for the Star Tribune, “Ahead of a pivotal vote about the Minneapolis City Council’s plan to remake policing, an analysis of the proposal shows the council faces legal barriers to eliminating officers. Even if the proposal makes it onto the November ballot and voters approve it, elected officials will have to wade through a series of ‘thorny’ and ‘perhaps vexing’ issues, including state laws that allow only licensed peace officers to carry out critical tasks, according to an analysis by the city attorney’s office recently released by the city.”

KSTP-TV reports: “Wednesday, the future of the Minneapolis Police Department will be, once again, up for debate. The city’s charter commission is expected to decide whether to approve a proposal to replace the police department, moving it one step closer to the November ballot. This will be the second of two votes by the commission that could reshape how policing looks in the city.  … Wednesday’s vote would have a much bigger impact, with the decision being to eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a department of community safety and violence prevention, something the majority of the city council backs. If it makes it to the November ballot, voters would get the final say.”

At MPR, Jon Collins says, “Amid growing calls for police reform in the wake of [George] Floyd’s killing, law enforcement agencies around the country are rethinking their expectations for officers who witness misconduct by fellow officers. Some departments, including St. Paul, are planning to train officers to speak up when they see a colleague do wrong. The goal is to create a culture where police officers like [Thomas] Lane are expected to intervene with colleagues to prevent misconduct and mistakes.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Patrick Condon writes: “Minnesota DFL officials charged Tuesday that Antone Melton-Meaux, the top challenger to incumbent U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, skirted campaign finance laws by hiding some of his top political consultants in Tuesday’s nationally watched Democratic primary. A Federal Election Commission complaint obtained by the Star Tribune alleges Melton-Meaux’s campaign violated federal election law by ‘conspiring to intentionally obscure’ the identity of political consultants listed as limited liability corporations working on his challenge to Omar in a hotly contested race that has already seen each side raise more than $4 million.”

Says Patrick Rehkamp for the Business Journal, “The Minnesota Twins’ season started four months late and in practically empty ballparks. But on TV at least, the numbers were better than last year. The first game of the year had ratings 27% higher than last year’s opener, even though it was a 3 p.m. game this year versus an evening game (which generally draw more TV viewers) in 2019. Through eight games on FOX Sports North, the Twins have averaged a 6.8 rating, meaning more than 115,000 households tuned in. The final season rating in 2019 was 6.4, equivalent to about 110,700 households.”

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This from the AP, “At least two school districts in Iowa are refusing to follow the governor’s demand that they return students to classrooms, rebuffing the idea that the state can override what local officials believe is the safest way to educate their children as coronavirus spreads in their counties. Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday reiterated that the state will require at least half of a school’s instruction to be held in person and the state will decide when K-12 schools can send students home based on community virus spread and student illnesses.”

Also from KSTP: “A young woman is safe Wednesday after being rescued from a hole 25 feet deep in Minneapolis. The incident happened late Tuesday night near Surly Brewing. Fire crews say she and two other people were on private property when the woman fell down the hole. Her friends called 911 and Minneapolis fire crews used a technical rescue to pull her out.”