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Walz to announce further easing of COVID restrictions

Plus: Legislature passes emergency funding to help cover security costs of Chauvin trial; police arrest man suspected of vandalizing Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center; BWCA expected to see another surge in visitors in 2021; and more.

Gov. Tim Walz
Gov. Tim Walz
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

In the Pioneer Press, Christopher Magan reports: “If Minnesota’s latest coronavirus surge continues to subside, Gov. Tim Walz says he’ll likely announce further easing of limits in place to help control the pandemic. Businesses and activities have largely reopened, but there are still restrictions on capacity and operating hours — particularly for bars, restaurants and events. While touring a Metro Transit bus converted into a mobile vaccine unit Tuesday in Richfield, Walz said a decision on easing capacity limits could come in a matter of days. ‘The moves coming now are the moves back to normal,’ Walz said, noting any changes would likely be on capacity limits. ‘I think you can expect to hear from us later this week or early next week.’”

The Star Tribune’s Briana Bierschbach reports, “Minnesota lawmakers pushed through emergency funding on Tuesday to help cover extra security costs that the state racked up ahead of last week’s verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. The House and Senate passed a $7.8 million package with broad bipartisan support after Gov. Tim Walz requested additional funds to cover costs for state troopers, Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and out-of-state law enforcement stationed across the Twin Cities. Walz signed the bill late Tuesday.”

Barry Amundson writes for the Forum News Service: “Police have arrested a 22-year-old Moorhead man as the suspect who spray-painted hate-filled graffiti on the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center last weekend. Benjamin Enderle was booked into the Clay County Jail after being taken into custody in Moorhead on Tuesday night. Investigators are recommending felony charges of harassment and criminal damage to property in connection with the vandalism at the mosque, which serves Muslims in Moorhead and neighboring Fargo, N.D., according to police spokesman Capt. Deric Swenson.”

Says Dan Kraker for MPR, “Nearly 166,000 people visited the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness last summer — a 16 percent jump from the previous year — and the most in at least a decade, according to a new report from the U.S. Forest Service. There was an even bigger increase in the number of permits issued for visits between May and September. … But the season didn’t start out that way for McDonnell and other canoe outfitters. The Boundary Waters was closed last year until May 18, when Minnesota’s initial stay-at-home order was lifted. ‘As soon as we were able to open, it was as busy as we’ve ever been,’ said McDonnell. … It was a similar story for Jason Zabokrtsky, who owns Ely Outfitting Company. … And Zabokrtsky said he expects this summer to be even busier: ‘Everybody I talk to is just seeing dramatically significant increases in bookings.’”

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For KSTP-TV Tom Hauser says, “A bill to legalize recreational adult use of marijuana has now cleared a half dozen committees in the Minnesota House, but still faces at least a couple more committees before a vote on the House floor. It also faces strong opposition in the Senate. ‘While Black Minnesotans and white Minnesotans use cannabis at almost exactly the same rate a Black Minnesotan is anywhere from four to ten times more likely to be arrested and charged for a cannabis-related crime’, said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, the bill’s chief author. He says his bill would eliminate law enforcement using possession of small amounts of marijuana as an excuse to arrest Black suspects at a higher rate than others.”

WCCO-TV says: “Five months before REAL ID travel requirements were to be enforced, the Department of Homeland Security has announced the deadline will be pushed back to May 2023. The previous deadline was Oct. 1, 2021. A release from DHS said the postponement was due to “circumstances resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said only 22% of residents with a state ID have a REAL ID.”

FOX 9 reports: “Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer found guilty of murder in George Floyd’s death, will now be sentenced on June 25.  Online court records show Chauvin’s sentencing has been pushed back from June 16 to June 25. The change was made due to availability of the parties, sources told FOX 9.”

Frederick Melo writes in the Pioneer Press: “Just off University Avenue, concerns about gentrification, displacement and a general lack of housing supply have sparked tensions over a proposal from Minneapolis developer Bob Lux and Alatus to build a $57 million, six-story apartment complex at 411-417 Lexington Parkway, near the Green Line. The St. Paul City Council looks to revisit the controversy on Wednesday when it considers a resolution condemning St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s recent veto, which was issued in support of the project.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Alex Chhith writes: “Minneapolis police are investigating the death of a man who was shot while working Tuesday evening at a Cedar-Riverside shop. Police responded to a robbery report about 7 p.m. in the 400 block of S. Cedar Avenue, according to police spokesman John Elder. Officers found a man with gunshot wounds. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead soon after. The suspect fled in a vehicle. Police were hoping to find video of the area and interviewed people near the scene.”

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