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Walz announces vaccine-or-test mandate for state workers

Plus: Minnesota Supreme Court to hear case on restoration of voting rights for people with felony records; police recover SUV matching suspect vehicle in Hwy. 169 shooting; Wisconsin officials set 300-animal limit for fall wolf hunt; and more.

Moderna coronavirus disease vaccine
REUTERS/Bing Guan
The Star Tribune’s Briana Bierschbach reports, “State government employees returning to the office must soon prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or comply with at least weekly testing, under a new requirement announced Wednesday by Gov. Tim Walz. The vaccine-or-test mandate, effective Sept. 8, applies to roughly 50,000 people who work under the umbrella of state government and on Minnesota State campuses. It comes as infections from the fast-spreading delta variant of the virus continue to rise in Minnesota.”

MPR’s Brian Bakst writes: The Minnesota Supreme Court will wade into a long-running dispute over restoration of voting rights to people with felony records, agreeing to hear a constitutional challenge to state law. Minnesota is among the states that requires people convicted of felonies to serve their time and complete any parole, probation or supervised release before they can vote again. In an order posted Tuesday, Minnesota’s highest court agreed to hear the legal challenge that could impact more than 50,000 people who aren’t behind bars but can’t vote.

WCCO-TV reports: “Plymouth police have recovered an SUV matching a description of the suspect vehicle in last month’s shooting of a youth baseball coach on Highway 169. … Jay Boughton, 56, was driving home on July 6 with his son after coaching a youth baseball game when he got into an altercation with another driver on Highway 169. The driver shot him in the head, and Boughton lost control of his car, crashing into several other vehicles in a nearby apartment complex parking lot.”

An AP story says, “Wildlife officials in Wisconsin set a 300-animal limit Wednesday for the state’s fall wolf hunt, exceeding biologists’ recommendations as they study the impact of a rushed spring season that saw hunters take almost twice as many wolves as allotted. State Department of Natural Resources scientists asked its policy board to cap kills at 130 animals, saying board members must be cautious because the four-day season in February took place during wolves’ breeding season and the long-term ramifications on the population are unknown.”

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Mara H. Gottfried writes in the Pioneer Press: A second person is under arrest in connection with the homicide of a St. Paul man whose remains were found in Lake Superior after he was shot and dismembered, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Wednesday. Tommi Lynn Hintz, 31, of Duluth, was booked into the St. Louis County jail on a Cook County, Minn., warrant, which was issued when she was charged with being an accomplice after the fact to felony murder and aiding and abetting interference with dead body — conceal a body. Richard Balsimo, 34, was killed on June 20, and his remains were recovered near Grand Portage on July 15 and 16.

Also in the Star Tribune, this from Glenn Howatt, “An Eden Prairie pediatrician has been disciplined by the state medical board for telling parents that childhood vaccines are not safe. The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice said Dr. Robert Zajac engaged in ‘unethical or improper conduct’ and knowingly provided ‘false or misleading information’ that is directly related to patient care. The board received four complaints against Zajac dating back to 2017, some filed by other physicians. Some of the complaints alleged that he was not following evidence-based medicine and that he was ‘actively encouraging parents not to vaccinate their children.’”

The Star Tribune’s Kristen Leigh Painter writes: “MyPillow and its founder Mike Lindell lost their bid Wednesday to dismiss the $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit they face in the District of Columbia. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said in a written decision the lawsuits against three allies of former President Donald Trump — Lindell, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani — can proceed. Dominion Voting Systems sued each defendant separately for false claims they made of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Judge Nichols denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the cases on several grounds.”

For the Sioux Falls Argus-leader Morgan Matzen says, “Before the South Dakota Department of Education released a draft of new social studies standards last week, department officials took out more than a dozen references to education on the Oceti Sakowin. ‘Oceti Sakowin’ refers collectively to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people who are indigenous to South Dakota and surrounding states. This is according to a draft of the standards dated July 26 obtained by the Argus Leader. The draft was created by a work group of more than 50 educators tasked with retooling the standards. … Mary Stadick Smith, deputy secretary for the DOE, said in an email Tuesday morning that the department made ‘certain adjustments’ before the release of the Aug. 6 draft to provide ‘greater clarity and focus’ for educators and the public.”