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Minnesota homeowners expected to see large increase in winter heating costs

Plus: MDH Commissioner Malcom cites ‘alarming’ new COVID numbers in Minnesota; state Supreme Court rules that child protection workers can be held responsible in death of 4-year-old; Prior Lake-Savage schools investigating racist student video; and more.

Honeywell Thermostat
Photo by Moja Msanii on Unsplash

For MPR, Kirsti Marohn reports, “Along with chillier weather, Minnesota homeowners should brace for a sharp increase in heating costs expected to hit pocketbooks this winter. Last month, the federal Energy Information Administration predicted that U.S. households will spend 30 to 50 percent more money to heat their homes this winter, depending on the type of fuel and the severity of the winter weather. ‘We are starting to see unusually high prices for heat,’ said Annie Levenson-Falk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota, which advocates for utility consumers. ‘Whether you’re using natural gas or propane or fuel oil, prices are up across the board, and roughly as high as they’ve been at any point over the last seven years.’”

Steve Karnowski writes for the AP: “COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached their highest level of the year in Minnesota and hospital capacity continues to tighten throughout the state amid an alarming surge in cases, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Wednesday. The Minnesota Department of Health on Wednesday reported 5,277 new cases and 43 new deaths, raising the state’s pandemic totals to 831,669 confirmed cases and 8,925 deaths. Minnesota hospitals were caring for 1,159 COVID-19 patients, including 257 in intensive care units. During a briefing for reporters, Malcolm called the new case and death numbers ‘extraordinarily high and concerning. … Right now we find ourselves in a really truly alarming spike’ in new cases.”

Also from the Star Tribune, Kim Hyatt writes: “A report from the National League of Cities released Wednesday says that 81% of local government leaders it surveyed have been harassed, threatened or experienced violence — destruction of property, assault or unauthorized possession of weapons — in recent years. The NLC report, ‘On the Frontlines of Today’s Cities: Trauma, Challenges and Solutions,’ features St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano and Minnetonka City Council Member Deb Calvert, who said she received hundreds of threatening calls and e-mails in 2020 over the city’s mask mandate.”

Frederick Melo writes in the Pioneer Press: “The St. Paul City Council voted 7-0 on Wednesday to allow drop-in day centers for the homeless in most business, mixed-use and industrial districts throughout the city. Depending on the underlying zoning, facilities spanning more than 7,000 square feet would in many cases need to apply for a conditional use permit. ‘I think this is a really critical use for those in our community who are the most vulnerable,’” said Council Member Rebecca Noecker. The council amended the ordinance last week to allow the drop-in centers to serve as emergency overnight facilities when the National Weather Service issues a wind-chill advisory, and to require both a litter pickup plan and a public commitment to work with law enforcement and their community district council on any nuisance issues.”

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For KARE-TV Brandon Stahl reports, “The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled today that Pope County child protection workers can be held responsible for the death of 4-year-old Eric Dean, who was murdered by his stepmother despite numerous reports that the boy was being abused. A lawsuit filed by a trustee representing Dean’s heirs accused Pope County and its child protection workers of negligence in failing to respond to the abuse reports before he died in March 2013.”

Also in state supreme court news, the Star Tribune’s Liz Navratil says, “The Minnesota Supreme Court allowed votes to be counted on a proposal to replace the Minneapolis Police Department because the phrasing of the question on the ballot ‘fairly communicated’ the measure’s ‘essential purpose,’ according to a new opinion issued Wednesday. The 16-page document, written by Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea, provided new insight into why the state’s high court chose to intervene in a case that threatened to toss the key policing question from the November ballot just hours before early voting was set to begin.”

Callan Gray reports for KSTP-TV: “Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools and Savage Police are investigating a racist video posted by a student that’s been shared widely on social media.  The district confirmed on Tuesday that it launched an investigation after receiving several reports about the post. Over the course of a minute, the video shows a student repeatedly making racist attacks and encouraging a student to end their life. A 14-year-old student told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she was the target of the post. … The district also sent another letter home to families on Wednesday responding to the situation.”

The AP’s Stephen Groves writes: “South Dakota’s House launched an investigation Tuesday into whether the state’s attorney general should be impeached for his conduct surrounding a car crash last year that killed a pedestrian. A sizable majority of the Republican-dominated House voted to have a committee prepare a report and recommend whether Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg should be impeached. It could take weeks for the committee of seven Republicans and two Democrats to delve into the crash investigation. The committee is a mix of Ravnsborg’s political allies and those who have called for his ouster.”