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Minnesota lawmakers remain at odds over COVID bonus pay for frontline workers

Plus: tax board approves total levy increase of 5.45% for Minneapolis; member of Boogaloo Bois pleads guilty to firing rounds into MPD precinct building during riots following George Floyd’s death; driverless shuttle debuts in Rochester; and more.

Minnesota State Capitol
Minnesota State Capitol
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

Dave Orrick writes for the Pioneer Press: “Did you hear the one about the lawmakers who had $250 million to give away and they can’t figure out how to do it? That’s the story with Minnesota’s Frontline Pay Working Group, a panel of lawmakers and members of the governor’s office tasked with figuring out how to give away $250 million to, in the words of the law that established it, ‘frontline workers’ … After blowing past a Labor Day deadline, it became clear Thursday that the Republicans and Democrats on the panel are at loggerheads. The standoff became apparent when several Republicans on the panel scheduled a news conference to public tout their plan — a common tactic at the Capitol when negotiations are stuck — which was followed by statements from Democrats and their allies touting their plan.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Susan Du, “The Minneapolis tax board approved a maximum property tax levy to cover Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed 2022 budget, but council members on the board said they are worried it may not be enough to cover financial risks of police use-of-force settlements. … The Board of Estimate and Taxation voted to approve a total property tax levy increase of 5.45% — or up to $417 million — to cover the expenses of the city’s general fund, pensions, Park and Recreation and other funds, as Frey requested in his $1.6 billion budget proposal for 2022. Before the board approved the mayor’s request, the two City Council members who serve on it criticized the mayor’s budget for possibly underestimating the financial risks of police use-of-force settlements.”

WCCO-TV’s reports: “A 27-year-old San Antonio, Texas, man pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony riot charge for firing more than a dozen rounds into the Minneapolis Police Third Precinct building during the riots following George Floyd’s death. Ivan Hunter says he came to Minneapolis in May of 2020 to be part of the unrest after Floyd was killed by an officer on Memorial Day. Hunter, who said he was a member of the violent, anti-government group called the Boogaloo Bois, is seen on surveillance video firing 13 round from an AK-47-style rifle into the precinct on the night of May 28. Bullet casings were later collected at the scene by investigators.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Janet Moore reports, “Some say it looks like a toaster on wheels. A driverless, electric-powered shuttle called the Med City Mover made its formal debut Thursday in Rochester, cheerfully toddling about a 1.5-mile loop in the southern Minnesota city. ‘It’s so cute. I think I want one’, said Mike Wentzel of Spicer, Minn., who was visiting Rochester on Thursday. Beyond being a nearly huggable curiosity, the shuttle represents an $1.5 million effort by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to assess how automated vehicles might operate on Minnesota streets and in our storied climate.”

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For KARE-TV Dana Thiede says, “We may be enjoying a stretch of summer-like weather, but temps will soon be plunging as fall turns to winter, Minnesota’s coldest and cruelest season. Xcel Energy is reminding customers that Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule kicks in Friday, Oct. 1, protecting residential customers from having utilities turned off due to non-payment if it involves a main heating source. As part of the rule customers are required to immediately contact their utility and set up a payment plan if they receive a disconnection notice.”

WCCO-TV reports: “A 23-year-old man is in custody months after the shooting at a Woodbury graduation party that killed 14-year-old Demaris Hobbs-Ekdahl. Detectives tracked the suspect down to a home in St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood Thursday evening, according to Woodbury police. He is in the Washington County Jail, and is expected to face a second-degree murder charge and a count of aiding and abetting second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. WCCO typically doesn’t identify suspects until they’ve been formally charged.”

An MPR story says, “With fall colors starting to pop across the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is issuing this recommendation: Go north. Specifically, go north of St. Cloud. Check out a few of the DNR’s current highlights from its latest fall color finder map, with suggestions about where to go for foliage this weekend and what you’ll see … .”

Molly Guthrie writes in the Pioneer Press: “Daisy Mae, a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig who once fought City Hall (and won), was knighted by the St. Paul Winter Carnival and even made the cover of National Geographic Magazine, passed away on Tuesday. She was 15. ‘She struck fear in the eyes of many which is a true gift, but was also gentle and kind to her friends in the community,’ wrote her human, Sarah Davis Jastram, in a post on social media. ‘I will always be a pig lady because of her, and I’m totally ok with that title.’”

Stephen Groves and Jill Colvin write for the AP:South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is cutting ties with political adviser Corey Lewandowski after the longtime confidant to former President Donald Trump was accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a GOP donor. Lewandowski had been key to the Republican governor’s political rise over the last year, joining her at political events across the country and helping her gain access to the former president’s political orbit. But his time as her adviser was also marked by frequent staff departures from the governor’s office.”