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Prosecutors in Hennepin, Washington County to no longer seek bail for some nonviolent felonies

Plus: many St. Paul homeowners to see property tax savings; EMS transfers spike due to COVID; Minnesota builds first dedicated highway underpass for animals; South Dakota tops 1,000 COVID-19 deaths; and more.

MPR’s Matt Sepic reports, “Two Twin Cities prosecutors say they’ll no longer request bail for people charged with a variety of nonviolent felonies. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Pete Orput of Washington County say their goal is to reduce racial disparities and minimize jail populations. … Bail is meant to ensure that defendants show up for subsequent court appearances. Advocates for abolishing this system say it penalizes those who can’t afford refundable cash bail or the 10 percent nonrefundable fee for a bail bondsman.”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “In St. Paul, a Hamline-Midway homeowner recently opened his mail to discover something almost unheard of in 2020 — a pleasant surprise. His property tax estimate showed he’ll likely pay $200 less in 2021 compared with the present year, despite the fact his estimated property value has increased by $3,000, or 1.3 percent. With notable exceptions, owners of median-value residential properties across the city are poised to enjoy at least a few dollars in property tax savings in the coming year, thanks in large part to flat St. Paul and Ramsey County tax levies.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Christopher Snowbeck, “Paramedics thought the pandemic would mean emergency crews racing to help patients in respiratory distress. …But in the fall, the second COVID surge that’s boosted emergency runs has really pumped up trips between hospitals to create space for those critically ill with COVID-19. … State data show that ambulances during the week before Thanksgiving handled 780 calls — the highest since the start of the pandemic — where patients either tested positive for COVID-19, reported symptoms or said they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, said David Rogers, data manager and analyst with the Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board.”

A KMSP-TV story says, “Police are asking neighbors to keep an eye out after a vandal has again caused damage to the home of an 89-year-old Minneapolis woman for the eighth time. Family members say the vandal showed up again on Tuesday night around 9 p.m., just days after he last broke windows at Frances Mosley’s home near Lake Nokomis on Thanksgiving. The family says this is the eighth incident since late March.”

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Says Nick Halter at The Business Journal, “Offices anywhere aren’t in high demand these days, and certainly not in a downtown. But Chanhassen-based Life Time Inc. is pushing forward on its plan to open one of its Life Time Work coworking spaces in downtown Minneapolis in April. It had previously targeted a fall 2020 opening, but that was right when the pandemic hit in March. Building permits show construction on the offices started in August at the intersection of Ninth Street and LaSalle Avenue.”

Stribber Patrick Condon writes, “Minnesota’s Republican members of Congress remain publicly silent on President-elect Joe Biden’s defeat of President Donald Trump in last month’s election, and on the losing candidate’s frequent but unfounded claims of rampant voter fraud. A month past Election Day, and days past the certification of Biden’s victory in the states that provided his winning margin, Minnesota’s three GOP congressmen and newly elected colleague continue to ignore requests for comment on the outcome of the race or on Trump’s allegations.

The Pioneer Press’ Mara H. Gottfried writes: “After a driver careened into a St. Paul restaurant, police say he fought with bystanders who tried to help him on Thursday. He then ran into the road and assaulted another driver in an apparent attempted carjacking, according to police. Officers arrived and took the 23-year-old into custody. He is suspected of driving under the influence, though it wasn’t known what, said Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul police spokesman. … The crash into Los Ocampo at University Avenue and Dale Street caused a natural gas leak. Firefighters shut off the gas — the leak could be heard from a block away — and Xcel Energy responded.”

KSTP-TV’s Brett Hoffland writes: “A project in southern Minnesota is hoping to keep animals and drivers safe. Construction is underway on the first crossing in the state designated for wildlife. The construction work is happening for the Highway 14 project between Owatonna and Dodge Center. … Part of the project includes something new for Minnesota. ‘This is unique because it’s the first dedicated underpass for animals,’ Smith said. … This allows animals can go underneath the highway to avoid any traffic.”

At The Daily Beast ,Tracy Connor writes, “South Dakota, a state with a population of just 884,000, has topped 1,000 COVID-19 deaths. The Argus Leader reports that the state recorded 38 new coronavirus deaths on Thursday, bringing the total to 1,033. There were also 1,145 new infections, out of some 6,000 tests, for an infection rate close to 20 percent.”

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