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Minnesota Senate passes $1.9 billion bonding bill

Plus: Wisconsin reports more than 3,700 new coronavirus cases; judge denies prosecution’s request for 48-hour seal on filings in Floyd case; Met Council ponders fate of Northstar commuter rail line; and more.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka speaking to members of the press on Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka speaking to members of the press on Thursday.
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

In the Star Tribune, Torey Van Oot reports, “The Minnesota Legislature cleared the largest public works infrastructure package in state history Thursday, overwhelmingly passing a long-delayed bill authorizing nearly $1.9 billion in public borrowing to pay for roads, wastewater treatment and a slew of major construction projects. … The state House passed the bill by a wide margin on Wednesday.… Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, is expected to sign it in the next week.”

For MPR, Tim Pugmire says, “The borrowing provisions in the bill cover public works projects throughout the state, including roads, bridges, water treatment infrastructure, parks and trails, and renovations to state facilities and college buildings. The tax portion provides breaks to farmers and small businesses for equipment purchases. The spending in the bill includes money to keep open corrections facilities in Togo and Willow River and raise pay for state troopers and personal care assistants.”

Say Sophie Carson and Alison Dirr for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Wisconsin reported more than 3,700 new coronavirus cases Thursday, shattering previous daily records as the state’s health crisis continued to soar to new heights unimpeded. The state Department of Health Services reported 3,747 new cases, nearly triple the number reported just one month ago. The seven-day average was the highest ever, at 2,927. Deaths due to the virus rose by 17, bringing the death toll to 1,553.”

The Forum News Service’s April Baumgarten writes: “A police officer in northwestern Minnesota faces criminal charges after shooting a vehicle in late July during a high-speed pursuit. Glyndon police officer Matthew James Tri, 35, is scheduled to appear Nov. 17 in Clay County District Court on a felony count of intentionally discharging a firearm that endangered the safety of another, as well as a misdemeanor count of reckless handling of a dangerous weapon.”

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Says Josh Skluzacek for KSTP-TV, “Minneapolis city officials on Thursday provided an update on early voting for the 2020 election, which is continuing at a record pace. As of Thursday, 82,941 early votes have been received in the city, officials said.”

Also from the Forum News Service: “After another recent contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, former congressman and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis said Thursday that he again tested negative for the virus. In Thursday’s news release, campaign spokeswoman Christine Snell said Lewis self-quarantined for over a week and is symptom-free. He plans to return to the campaign trail to challenge Democratic Sen. Tina Smith ‘in the coming days.’”

Says Rochelle Olson for the Strib, “A Hennepin County District Judge overseeing the prosecution of four former officers charged in the May 25 killing of George Floyd has denied a prosecution request for a 48-hour seal on filings in the case. Judge Peter Cahill announced the decision at a hearing Thursday after a defense attorney moved Monday to file into evidence a video and transcript from Floyd’s arrest by Minneapolis police in May 2019 — a year before he died in custody on a south Minneapolis street corner. …He said he would not build in any additional time lag on the release of filings in the case, but added that he won’t allow audio, video or photos attached to future filings.”

For MPR, Elizabeth Shockman says, “Fewer families are sending their children to Twin Cities public school districts during the coronavirus pandemic than expected, portending financial troubles for many K-12 districts. A new survey from the Association of Metropolitan School Districts finds that student enrollment from early October is down in nearly every district that responded to the questionnaire.”

This from Janet Moore, also in the Star Tribune, “If it weren’t for passengers wearing telltale masks, it could have been any other fall afternoon. But ridership on Northstar, a commuter train that connects downtown Minneapolis to Big Lake while running through the Twin Cities’ northern suburbs, has plunged about 95% since the COVID-19 outbreak. As the Metropolitan Council considers harsh budget realities for public transportation next year, the fate of Northstar has come into sharper focus. Should it be shut down temporarily? Should buses replace train service? And what’s the status of the long-proposed extension to St. Cloud?”

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