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Nearly 1.2 million Minnesotans have applied for ‘hero’ pay, almost double the number lawmakers anticipated

Plus: Groups launch push to get city of Minneapolis to provide direct funding for abortion access; Hennepin County judge rejects motion to dismiss giant Chinese internet retailer as defendant in lawsuit brought by U of M student; Minneapolis North basketball coach Larry McKenzie announces retirement; and more.

healthcare worker
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Dana Ferguson writes for the Forum News Service:  “Nearly 1.2 million front-line workers applied for bonus checks from the state ahead of a deadline on Friday, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry leaders said. In all, 1,199,512 workers who’d remained on the job in person during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic submitted applications, they said. That’s nearly double the total that state lawmakers believed were eligible to receive the payments. And now, state officials will parse through the applications to determine how many applicants meet the criteria and will get a check from the state. The total pool available is $500 million. That amount will be divided evenly between all the eligible applicants. Lawmakers initially estimated that each worker would receive about $750, but with the broader applicant pool, workers could expect to see checks closer to $400.”

Michelle Wiley reports for MPR: “The abortion fund, Our Justice, along with Pro-Choice Minnesota and Minneapolis City Council members Aisha Chughtai and Robin Wonsley, have launched a campaign to get the city to provide direct funding for abortion access. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, ending nationwide constitutional protections for abortion, Minnesota became an island among surrounding states with restrictive abortion laws and limited services. … With several states limiting abortion access, patients are now forced to seek appointments in far-flung places, often on short notice. That means booking a last-minute flight, which can cost hundreds — or thousands — of dollars, or potentially driving hundreds of miles. … That’s what led these groups to follow in the footsteps of other cities like Portland, Chicago and New York, all of which have allocated money to abortion funds as part of their city budget.”

Randy Furst writes in the Star Tribune: “A Hennepin County district judge has rejected a motion to dismiss a giant Chinese internet retailer as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by a University of Minnesota student who alleges the company’s CEO, billionaire Richard Liu, raped her. Judge Edward T. Wahl also ruled that the student cannot seek punitive damages against the retailer, JD.com. But Wahl said in his ruling Friday that the student, Jingyao Liu — no relation to Richard Liu — can seek punitive damages from the defendant personally. Wahl’s decision sets the stage for an Oct. 3 trial in which both Richard Liu and JD.com, a company that has an e-commerce site with more than 400 million customers and is often compared to Amazon, will be defendants.”

Kristi Marohn reports for MPR: “St. Louis County commissioners will vote on Tuesday on whether to choose a new health care provider for people incarcerated in the county jail. The board is expected to authorize a contract with St. Luke’s Hospital of Duluth that would expand medical and mental health services in the jail. St. Louis County has contracted with Sartell-based MEnD Correctional Care since 2012. A number of Minnesota counties have recently switched from MEnD to other providers. That’s partly due to the state medical board recently suspending the medical license of MEnD’s founder, Dr. Todd Leonard, over his role in the death of 27-year-old Hardel Sherrell. Sherrell died in 2018 after falling ill while in the Beltrami County jail, and his pleas for help were ignored by jail and medical staff.”

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FOX 9’s Babs Santos reports: “This summer, drought conditions on Minnesota farms aren’t as widespread as they were last year, but in some pockets of the state, farmers are still feeling pinched by Mother Nature. The driest conditions are centered around the metro, in a thin stripe of moderate to severe drought along the Minnesota River Valley. In that area, some farmers are predicting up to a 50% loss in their yields for the second consecutive year. Washington County farmer Fran Miron says until now, he’d never seen two droughts like these on his 250 acres.”

A Bring Me The News story says, “A former Twin Cities police chief says his son sustained a traumatic brain injury in an attack in downtown Minneapolis on Friday night. Scott Nadeau has held several high-ranking law enforcement jobs in the Twin Cities metro over the past 30 years, including — most recently — time as police chief in Maplewood and interim chief Golden Valley.  In a viral Facebook post on Saturday, Nadeau said his 24-year-old son had to be hospitalized after being robbed and beaten by an unknown assailant outside a downtown bar.”

This from Tom Hauser at KSTP-TV, “There was little fanfare when the Minnesota State Legislature quietly passed a new law allowing intoxicating levels of THC in edible products like gummies and beverages. However, there was plenty of fanfare when the law actually took effect July 1.  … The law passed even though some Republican lawmakers say they thought they were only passing technical changes to cannabis law and not legalizing intoxicating levels of THC. The law restricts sales to people 21 and over, and packaging can’t be aimed at appealing to children. Other than that, there are few regulations about who can sell the products, and enforcement is largely up to cities and counties.”

Related. Caroline Cummings reports for WCCO-TV: “Gummies and chews will soon be available to patients certified in Minnesota to take cannabis for a medical condition, a move that will further increase options to the state program that’s grown in the last several years. The gummies will be available in the state’s dispensaries starting Aug. 1, with a single serving not exceeding 10 mg and 100 mg per package. Ratios of CBD and THC will vary. That’s double the amount of THC from hemp in food and drinks allowable under a new state law that legalized the edibles for the general public.”

FOX 9’s Maury Glover reports: “For nearly a decade, Larry McKenzie has been the boys’ basketball coach at Minneapolis North High School. But after winning two state championships and coming in second for two more, Coach McKenzie is calling it quits. Before he joined North, McKenzie led Patrick Henry to four consecutive state titles, the first coach in Minnesota State Basketball history to do so. He is also the first coach in Minnesota State High School history to lead two separate schools to multiple titles. Now, at 65 years old, McKenzie says he wants to spend more time with his wife and four grandchildren.”