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U.S. House passes George Floyd police reform bill

Plus: Minneapolis homeowners can now file paperwork disavowing the racial covenants on properties; bill proposed to prohibit young students in Minnesota from being suspended or expelled; Mississippi River added to litter mapping project; and more.

U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. Capitol Building
REUTERS/Jim Bourg

The Washington Post reports: The House on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, an expansive policing overhaul measure named for the 46-year-old Black man who died last Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his neck for over nine minutes. The bill passed 220 to 212 along mostly party lines, with two Democrats voting against it and one Republican voting for it. Floyd’s death triggered a national outcry for a systemic transformation of law enforcement, but the push for policing changes couldn’t overcome partisan and election-year gridlock in Congress and the legislative efforts failed last year.

An MPR story says, “Gov. Tim Walz was upbeat enough about the current situation that he told reporters Wednesday the Minnesota State Fair was within reach this year after COVID-19 concerns canceled it in 2020.… The inoculation picture has brightened with the addition of the J&J doses, which require only one shot. More than 45,000 doses of the newly approved vaccine should be distributed in Minnesota this week. Public health authorities here view it as a game changer in their efforts to inoculate Minnesotans quickly.”

Stribber Liz Navratil reports, “Minneapolis homeowners can now file paperwork disavowing the racial covenants that were placed on their properties decades ago and contributed to segregation in the city. City officials say they hope a new program will allow people ‘to reclaim their homes as equitable spaces’ and raise awareness about discriminatory housing practices that continue to have lasting impacts today.”

At KSTP-TV Crystal Bui says, “A proposed bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives’ Education Policy Committee would prohibit students from kindergarten through third grade from being suspended or dismissed unless there is an ongoing safety threat or all other support plans have failed. HF951 was brought by Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights. ‘If kids are not in school, we cannot close gaps,’ Richardson said. Richardson said it’s needed because there’s a pattern of discrimination with who is suspended or expelled, and that needs to end.”

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Another AP story says, “Cities along the Mississippi River will take part in a global system to determine where plastic pollution comes from and how it ends up in waterways as a first step toward solving the problem, officials said Wednesday. The project enables ‘citizen scientists’ using a mobile application to log types and locations of litter found along the river, which drains 40 percent of the continental U.S. and sends huge volumes of plastics into the Gulf of Mexico. Much of it reaches the river through municipal storm drains and tributary streams. The data will be entered on a virtual map that will provide experts and policymakers with information about plastic waste concentrations in particular areas and their sources.”

For the Spokesman-Recorder, Mariah Flores says, “On February 17 the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board (MPRB) approved a motion to reduce the Hiawatha Golf Course in Minneapolis to nine holes in order to prepare for cost-effective water management and better flood-mitigation. Originally 18 holes, the proposed course downsizing has raised concerns among many Blacks, Indigenous, and other People of Color in the Twin Cities’ community—especially Black golfers. The Save Hiawatha 18 committee, a group of local golfers dedicated to preserving the course as 18 holes, has steadily worked to hold the Park Board accountable for initial plans to close the prized landmark.”

For FOX 9, Cody Matz says, “Calculating our new climate normals shows that the Twin Cities has warmed roughly 0.4 degrees over the year as a whole, when comparing our old climate norms to the new one. But, just because our year as a whole is nearly half a degree warmer doesn’t mean every month is warming at the same rate. In fact, when we break down our temperatures by month, our spring months are actually getting colder. March has seen the largest cooling over the last decade, now coming in nearly a degree cooler.

In the Pioneer Press, Mary Divine writes: The Minnesota Amateur Quarter Horse Association has pulled the plug on this summer’s annual horse show, citing concerns about a repeat of last year’s violent unrest following the killing of George Floyd. The event, called the Corporate Q Challenge, was to have been held July 7-11 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights. MAQHA officials said that as they worked to finalize plans for the event, ‘uncertainty over unrest and events in our city began to overshadow those efforts.’ The news was shared Tuesday in a Facebook post. ‘Minneapolis is a great city, and Minnesota is a great state, but it just doesn’t feel that way right now,” said Brenda Stevermer, the show’s committee chairwoman. ‘It just doesn’t feel Minnesota-nice.’”

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