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Minnesota workplace safety inspectors inundated with complaints

Plus: stretch of western Minnesota highway may be abandoned and removed; police arrest Little Falls man in connection with death of his wife; Evers proposes legalizing recreational marijuana in Wisconsin; and more.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In the Star Tribune, Mike Hughlett and Joe Carlson say, “Minnesota workplace safety inspectors have been inundated with a historic level of complaints from employees worried about COVID-19. Yet there is no specific work-safety standard for infectious disease. Connecting COVID-19 deaths to workplaces is murky at best. And all workplaces have become potentially dangerous, increasing the stakes while pinching state resources. … The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) saw a 63% increase in complaints from March 1 through the end of 2020 compared with the prior year — a surge driven by COVID-19.”

Another MPR story, this from Andrew Krueger says, “A stretch of state highway in western Minnesota that’s been closed for nearly two years because it’s sliding down a hillside may be abandoned and removed. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the slope along Highway 67 at Upper Sioux Agency State Park near Granite Falls is failing deep underground — and would require an estimated $30 million to repair. … Given the cost, and the ‘significant environmental, historical and cultural impacts’ of making the extensive repairs, MnDOT is instead recommending rerouting Highway 67 onto existing state and county roads, to maintain the highway link between Granite Falls and Echo.”

KSTP-TV reports: “Police have arrested a Little Falls man in connection with the death of his wife. According to the Little Falls Police Department, Jonathan Greyblood, 30, was booked into the Morrison County Jail on Sunday on suspicion of second-degree murder. He has not been formally charged. The suspect’s wife, 37-year-old Jeanine L. Greyblood, was found dead just south of Little Falls around 12:45 p.m. Sunday. Police say her death was ‘under suspicious circumstances.’ Police say Jonathan Greyblood called to report his wife had gone missing on Saturday.”

In the Star Tribune, Patrick Kennedy writes: “Minneapolis Public Schools announced Sunday that pre-K and kindergarten students will return for in-classroom learning as planned. Students haven’t been in classrooms since last spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced them into distance learning. The district said in an e-mail that temperatures are not expected to dip below its threshold for suspending in-person schooling.”

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The Pioneer Press’ Kristi Belcamino writes: “A car stolen from a St. Paul Walgreens store on Sunday evening had a 6-year-old girl inside, police say. Officers found the car abandoned a couple of blocks away near Macalester Street and Niles Avenue a short time later, and the girl was found unharmed nearby, according to a spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department. The woman who owned the car was inside the store at 1585 Randolph Ave. when the idling car was stolen, and she reported the theft.”

MPR says, “About 10 percent of Minnesota residents have now received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The state reached that milestone in Sunday’s update from the Minnesota Department of Health, reflecting data reported as of Friday. That’s just over 554,000 people. About 2.8 percent of Minnesotans — nearly 157,000 people — have received both doses to complete their vaccination. And the state is slowly making progress in vaccinating people age 65 and older. Just over 27 percent of that age group in Minnesota have now received at least one dose of the vaccine.”

An AP story says, “Gov. Tony Evers announced Sunday his 2021-23 biennial budget proposes regulating and taxing marijuana much like Wisconsin regulates and taxes alcohol. Under the proposal, Wisconsin would join 15 other states, including neighboring Michigan and Illinois, in legalizing recreational marijuana. … In 2019, a Marquette University Law Poll found that nearly 60% of Wisconsinites support the legalization of marijuana and 83% of Wisconsinites support the legalization of medical marijuana.”

Also for MRP, Dan Gunderson writes: “Six growers helped launch Minnesota’s hemp industry in 2016, through a pilot program that prioritized study alongside cultivation. … But hemp production has hit a plateau in Minnesota. … And after a bumpy few years of changing regulations and falling prices, the industry is now looking to branch out from its early products — primarily focused on CBD oil — to new markets, in fiber and grain. This week, as the state’s hemp growers, processors and regulators gather for their annual conference … they will grapple with how best to grow and expand the nascent industry, from one focused on oils and tinctures to one that also includes products being billed as earth-friendly alternatives to plastic, polyester and other man-made materials.”