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Walz proposes $5.1 billion in spending on child care, schools, paid leave

Plus: Minnesota pharmacies to begin distributing free N95 masks Wednesday; Robbinsdale council member arrested after wrong-way crash, pursuit; Vikings’ GM search down to one candidate; and more.

Gov. Tim Walz
Gov. Tim Walz

WCCO-TV’s Caroline Cummings reports: Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday proposed spending $5.1 billion over the next three years for child care, teacher recruitment, mental health access in schools and a paid family and medical leave policy with funds from a record state surplus that will shape the debate at the capitol this year. He called it an ‘incredible opportunity’ to invest in children and families as the pandemic continues to impact schooling and work, with students forced to quarantine and parents having to navigate distance learning and child care while being employed full time.”

Rich Reeve of KSTP says: “It’s being called the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history. 400-million N95 masks — and some of them could be in Minnesota as early as Wednesday. …  The massive federal government rollout — comes as the Centers for Disease Control is recommending N95s to help stop the spread of the omicron variant. Starting Wednesday — Hy-Vee pharmacies across Minnesota are scheduled to begin passing out N95 masks.”

Janet Moore reports in the Star Tribune: “Members of the Metropolitan Council are expected to consider a measure Wednesday that would increase the price tag of the Southwest light-rail line by $210 million. That figure includes $40 million to be paid in the next 60 days by the regional planning body under a proposed settlement with the project’s civil construction contractor, Lunda McCrossan Joint Venture (LMJV), to cover costs already incurred after a series of change orders approved by the council. … According to the memo, the Met Council and LMJV agree that at least another 34 months will be needed to complete the work, but it’s unclear when opening day for the line will come.”

This from MPR’s Jon Collins, “A second day of testimony wrapped up Tuesday in the federal trial of three ex-Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s constitutional rights, with jurors watching police body camera footage of the officers confronting and then subduing Floyd. … Judge Paul Magnuson told jurors the trial could last four weeks. … Magnuson also ordered that Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross would not be allowed in the courtroom after defense attorney Earl Gray told him that she’d held a recent press conference. She’s also on the witness list for the prosecution.”

Kilat Fitzgerald reports for KSTP-TV: “Police arrested Robbinsdale City Council member Tyler Kline after a wrong-way crash and a pursuit. A criminal complaint states that police responded to a report of a crash caused by a driver going the wrong way near Highway 100 northbound at Brooklyn Boulevard just after 12:30 a.m. Monday. Officers determined the suspect vehicle to be a gray Dodge Caravan after it drove away from the crash and traveled southbound in the northbound lanes.”

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Also in the Star Tribune, Matt McKinney writes: “About a third of Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office employees are in violation of the county’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing policy and could face a five-day suspension starting in mid-February, county leaders said. … The county’s overall vaccination rate among employees stands at about 84%, according to O’Connor. Another 11% of county employees chose to be tested weekly, which also satisfies the county’s requirement. Some 182 employees are apparently doing neither, with the majority of them in the sheriff’s office, O’Connor said.”

For Bring Me The News Melissa Turtinen says, “A video posted to Reddit on Monday shows a man wishing death upon workers at a Minnesota Jimmy John’s.  Rochester Mayor Kim Norton earlier this month declared a local emergency requiring people to wear face masks in all indoor public areas, regardless of vaccination status, amid the surge in COVID cases caused by the omicron variant.… And a man who walked into Jimmy John’s was not happy the sandwich shop was enforcing the mandate.”

In Duluth, WDIO-TV reports: “The City of Duluth, Native Lives Matter Coalition, and Mending the Sacred Hoop held a conference Tuesday to explain the importance of the recently announced Gaagige-Mikwendaagoziwag ‘You Will Be Remembered Forever’ Reward Fund. The fund was established to aid in finding missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people. … The fund provides a financial incentive for those with information to come forward and aid in ongoing investigations. ‘Currently, we have over 19 in the state of Minnesota and in Wisconsin that are missing,’ said advocated Rene Ann Goodrich. ‘So, this is our opportunity to reaffirm that commitment that we have to our community [and] to indigenous communities.'”

KSTP-TV reports:“The Vikings’ hunt for a new general manager appears to be down to one candidate. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the Browns’ vice president of football operations, is the last finalist standing after Ryan Poles, the Chiefs’ executive director of player personnel, took a job Tuesday as the Bears’ next general manager, KSTP Sports confirmed Tuesday. Adofo-Mensah is interviewing with the Vikings on Tuesday; the organization had lined up an interview with Poles for Wednesday.”

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