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Minnesota Senate approves drought relief for farmers

Plus: Legislature reaches deal on extending reinsurance program; Hopkins man found guilty in fentanyl overdose case; no Grand Old Day in 2022; and more.

spring planting
REUTERS/Rachel Mummey

Also from the Forum’s Dana Ferguson: “​​The Minnesota Senate on Thursday approved a $10 million plan to send out aid to farmers and ranchers hit hardest by drought conditions last year and to offer extra tools to detect avian influenza in Minnesota. Senators voted unanimously to advance the funding bill after they noted the dire impact the historically dry conditions had on ranchers and specialty crop producers in 2021.”

The AP’s Steve Karnowski reports: “Legislative leaders announced a bipartisan deal Thursday to extend Minnesota’s health care reinsurance program, beating a deadline by one day in a move to hold down premiums for residents who buy their health insurance on the individual market. The $700 million deal agreed to late Wednesday authorizes an extension of the program for five years, but funds it for only three years. Republicans reached a compromise with Democrats who have never liked the five-year-old program.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Andy Mannix writes: “A jury has found a Hopkins man guilty on 17 counts related to a conspiracy to sell illegal drugs online that resulted in the overdose deaths of 11 people, including a University of Minnesota professor, in 2016. Over the past week and a half, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office have described to a jury how 31-year-old Aaron Broussard started a business from his studio apartment buying chemicals from a lab in China and selling them disguised as plant food. In 2016, at least 16 people overdosed on a mixture containing 99% pure fentanyl.”

Frederick Melo writes in the Pioneer Press: “Add Grand Old Day to the series of St. Paul festivities that won’t be returning in 2022. Organizers say they’ll focus instead on reviving what’s billed as the largest single-day festival in the Upper Midwest next year. The daylong parade and celebration, typically held the first Sunday in June, was canceled in 2020 and 2021 in light of the pandemic and other organizational difficulties, and some patrons had kept fingers crossed that it would return this year.”

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Hunter Woodall writes in the Star Tribune: “A congressional effort by Rep. Angie Craig to cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin for insured people at $35 a month cleared the U.S. House on Thursday. The House passed the bill on a 232-193 vote nearly a month after President Joe Biden publicly called for action on the issue during his first State of the Union address on March 1.… Craig and Democratic representatives Betty McCollum, Dean Phillips and Ilhan Omar supported the bill, while GOP lawmakers Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber and Michelle Fischbach opposed it.”

A KSTP-TV story says, “The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) is temporarily banning poultry sales and exhibitions amid an outbreak of avian influenza. BAH officials say the ban — which includes all poultry community sales, swaps, fairs, exhibitions and other events where poultry and susceptible birds are brought together — will run from April 1 through May 1. Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz also signed an executive order waiving some trucking regulations to aid depopulation efforts and transportation of uninfected animals.”

In the Business Journal Ethan Nelson writes, “Homes are scarcer and more costly across nearly everywhere in Minneapolis and St. Paul since the start of the pandemic two years ago, mirroring a national trend. In only two Minneapolis neighborhoods – Downtown East and Loring Park – were typical home values lower in February 2022 versus that month in 2020, according to recent figures from Zillow. Most other areas across the two cities have seen double-digit increases in their typical home values, a calculation that in this case includes single-family residences, condos and co-ops.”

In the Strib Randy Johnson says, “The Hobey Baker Award will be announced April 8 during NCAA Frozen Four weekend in Boston, and whoever is named as the nation’s top men’s college hockey player will have a strong Minnesota tie. Gophers center Ben Meyers of Delano, Denver forward Bobby Brink of Minnetonka and Minnesota State Mankato goalie Dryden McKay on Thursday were named the Hobey Hat Trick finalists.”