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Minnesota state Sen. Jerry Relph dies of complications from COVID-19

Plus: judge in Floyd cases denies motion to limit audio and video coverage; AG’s office sues two more restaurants over defiance of COVID restrictions; longtime broadcaster Tom Hanneman dies; and more.

MPR’s Brian Bakst and Kristi Marohn report: “Jerry Relph, a first-term state senator from St. Cloud, died Friday of complications of COVID-19, his family and the Senate majority leader confirmed. … Relph is the first Minnesota lawmaker whose death is linked to COVID-19. The 76-year-old Relph, a Vietnam veteran and attorney who specialized in tax law, recently lost his bid for a second term to DFLer Aric Putnam. He was one of several Republican state senators who tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a post-election party.”

WCCO-TV reports: “District Court Judge Peter Cahill has denied a motion to limit the amount of audio and video coverage of the impending trial in George Floyd’s death. … On Friday, Cahill ruled, ‘This Court will not reiterate the constitutional analysis from its November 4 Order, but merely finds that the State’s suggested procedures to accommodate the Defendants’ Sixth Amendment rights and the public’s and press’ First Amendment rights to a public trial would be, at best, inadequate, and at worst, mere lip-service to the Defendants’ and the public’s constitutional rights.’”

In the Star Tribune, James Walsh writes: “Pleading with Minnesota restaurants to ‘do the right thing’ to stop the spread of COVID-19, state Attorney General Keith Ellison on Friday filed two more lawsuits against eateries that he said aren’t doing so. Ellison’s office announced taking action against Cork in Anoka and Cornerstone Cafe in Monticello, alleging that both have been operating on-premises dining in open violation of the executive order Gov. Tim Walz issued last month and extended through Jan. 10.”

The AP reports: “Congress swiftly passed a two-day stopgap spending bill Friday night, averting a partial government shutdown and buying time for frustratingly slow endgame negotiations on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package. The virus aid talks remain on track, both sides said, but closing out final disagreements is proving difficult. The House passed the temporary funding bill by a 320-60 vote as lawmakers headed for a Sunday session. The Senate approved the bill by voice vote almost immediately afterward, sending it to President Donald Trump.”

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In the Pioneer Press, Jace Frederick writes: “A voice of the Timberwolves since the franchise’s inception and an important broadcast fixture within the state for 50 years, Tom Hanneman, has died. He was 68. Hanneman was born in La Crosse, Wis., went to college at the University of Minnesota, and then for years resided in living room televisions of houses across Minnesota — first as a sports reporter and anchor at WCCO-TV, then eventually as a sideline reporter, play-by-play broadcaster and studio host for the Timberwolves and Lynx.

For the Forum News Service Samantha Erkkila reports: “Duluth photographer Mike Mayou was flying his drone along the icy St. Louis River in Wisconsin around dusk Wednesday when he discovered three bobcats playing on the ice. … As of Friday, the video had nearly 250,000 views on Facebook, according to Mayou, who said: ‘I totally didn’t expect it to blow up the way that it has. I was blown away.’”