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Bakk, Tomassoni leaving Minnesota Senate DFL caucus

Plus: Chauvin’s lawyer seek to block evidence of past behavior; Delta to continue blocking middle seats; medical marijuana dispensary opens in Hermantown; and more.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk
MinnPost photo by Walker Orenstein
State Sen. Tom Bakk
State Sen. David Tomassoni
MinnPost file photo by Brian Halliday
State Sen. David Tomassoni
Bakking out. KSTP’s Tom Hauser and Tracy Maher report: “In a startling political development, two longtime Minnesota DFL senators announced Wednesday they are leaving the Minnesota Senate DFL Caucus to form a new “Independent Caucus.” Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook, a senator since 2003 and former DFL candidate for governor and former DFL Senate Majority leader, and Sen. Dave Tomassoni of Chisholm, a senator since 2001, say their move is designed to become more bipartisan and moderate.”

Past behavior. The Washington Post’s Holly Bailey reports: “Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee at George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes and is now charged with his murder, has asked the judge in his case to block prosecutors from introducing evidence of his allegedly having used similar neck and body restraints on other suspects. … Prosecutors want to include four cases from 2014 to 2019 in which they claim Chauvin restrained suspects ‘beyond the point when such force was needed.’

New arrest in developing story. WCCO reports: “Timothy John Watson, 30, was charged after he was arrested in early September for allegedly running a website claiming to sell wall hangers that authorities said could be actually used to turn semi-automatic AR-15 rifles into fully automatic machine guns. … Charges against him include conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S. government, being unlawfully involved in manufacturing machine guns, illegally possessing and transferring machine guns and having an unregistered firearm silencer. Prosecutors … said Watson sold the devices to two men in Minnesota who allegedly attempted to aid a foreign terrorist organization and built firearm suppressors that they believed they sold to the Mideast militant group Hamas.

COVID behind bars. The Spokesman-Recorder’s Amudalat Ajasa reports: “The high number of COVID-19 cases recently found in Minnesota prisons has raised questions about whether enough is being done by Department of Corrections officials to curb the spread of the disease in their facilities. According to the Minnesota DOC, they have documented 2,424 positive COVID-19 cases among the state’s prisoners as of Nov. 13. Of that statistic, 894 (37%) of the inmates have not recovered and 1542 (63%) have recovered.”

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In other news…

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One less thing to worry about: “Amid pandemic, Delta to continue blocking middle seats on planes through March 2021” [KSTP]

Can you use Instacart? “Medical marijuana dispensary opens in Hermantown” [Duluth News Tribune]

RIP:Grammy-winning audio engineer and music producer Bruce Swedien dies at 86” [Wrecking Crew Facebook page]