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Prosecutors may call Chauvin’s co-defendants as government witnesses at trial

Plus: several Minnesota House Republicans introduce articles of impeachment against Walz; Stillwater native confirmed as VA secretary; South Dakota judge strikes down marijuana amendment; and more.

Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Hennepin County Jail

MPR’s Matt Sepic reports: “Prosecutors preparing for the upcoming trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin say they may call his three co-defendants as government witnesses. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25 killing of George Floyd. In a court filing Monday, Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Matthew Frank named more than 360 people he is considering calling to the stand. On his list are former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao, and Thomas Lane, who stand accused of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.”

Says Jeremy Olson for the Star Tribune, “Minnesota has risen from 45th to 14th among U.S. states in its rate of COVID-19 vaccine administration and will soon see its first shots being given in retail pharmacies. Gov. Tim Walz announced a one-time diversion of 8,000 vaccine doses not being used in long-term care facilities this week to Walgreens pharmacies. Walmart and Thrifty White also are planning to administer 16,000 doses in what state officials hope will be growing utilization of retail pharmacies to protect Minnesotans against COVID-19.”

In the Pioneer Press, Nick Woltman writes: “Three Republican members of the Minnesota House of Representatives on Monday introduced articles of impeachment against Gov. Tim Walz over his use of executive orders to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Erik Mortensen of Shakopee, who co-sponsored the impeachment resolution, accused Walz of ‘corrupt and criminal acts’ in a news release Monday, calling the governor’s executive orders unconstitutional. A spokesman for the governor said Walz’s executive orders have repeatedly been upheld in court when their legality has been challenged, adding that courts rather than legislators determine what is constitutional.”

The Forum News Service’s Dana Ferguson writes: “Minnesota’s top K-12 education official told lawmakers Monday that the state doesn’t yet have a determined target date for getting secondary students back into the classroom. Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker said department officials continued to work on getting more students around the state back to in-person instruction but didn’t offer a date when students in grades 6-12 could expect to return. The comments came after state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, urged the state to act quicker in approving local plans for in-person instruction ….”

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The Washington Post’s Lisa Rein reports: “The Senate on Monday confirmed Denis McDonough as President Biden’s Veterans Affairs secretary, choosing a non-veteran but a manager with years of government service to lead the sprawling health and benefits agency. McDonough, 51, was chief of staff during Barack Obama’s second term and held senior roles on the National Security Council and on Capitol Hill before that. … McDonough, a Minnesota native, was Obama’s deputy national security adviser during the Navy SEAL raid in 2011 that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. He was also a longtime congressional staffer, which appealed to senators in both parties who during his confirmation hearing demanded better transparency and communication than they said they got from Wilkie.”

The Star Tribune Mike Hughlett reports, “A federal appellate court judge has denied a motion to stop construction of Enbridge’s controversial Line 3 replacement, the second court ruling against pipeline opponents in the past week. Two Minnesota Ojibwe bands and two environmental groups in December sued the Army Corps in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking for a preliminary injunction to halt construction of the 340-mile oil pipeline across northern Minnesota. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly Sunday denied a preliminary injunction, saying plaintiffs failed to show they would likely succeed on the merits of their case or that they will suffer ‘irreparable harm’ if construction continues.”

At MPR, Paul Huttner says, “The thermometer blinked negative 43 in Cotton, Minnesota Monday morning. That’s the coldest temperature recorded in the 48 contiguous U.S. states Monday morning. Many locations in northern Minnesota dipped to 30 degrees below zero. Two other northern Two other locations hit negative 40 early Monday … The Twin Cities dipped to negative 16 Sunday morning, and negative 10 Monday morning. That makes five nights at or below zero so far this winter season. The annual average is 23.”

Stephen Groves writes for the Associated Press: “A South Dakota judge on Monday struck down a voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized recreational marijuana after Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration challenged it. Circuit Judge Christina Klinger ruled the measure approved by voters in November violated the state’s requirement that constitutional amendments deal with just one subject and would have created broad changes to state government. … Brendan Johnson, who sponsored the amendment and represented a pro-marijuana group in court, said it was preparing an appeal to South Dakota’s Supreme Court.”

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