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Minnesota utility regulators leave $600 million for consumers to pay

Plus: Appeals court rules University of Minnesota Duluth coach was not fired for her sexual orientation; drought conditions improve slightly; state troopers will provide reinforcements in Minneapolis indefinitely; and more.

This from Stribber Mike Hughlett, “Minnesota utility regulators Thursday faulted the state’s gas providers for their response to a February 2021 storm, prohibiting them from passing down nearly $60 million in costs to consumers. The decision still means about $600 million of wholesale gas costs can be passed onto consumers, who already have started to pay those amounts through a special surcharge. The decision by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reject about 9% of the costs fell far short of a recommendation by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which represents ratepayers, and utility watchdog groups.”

For the Duluth News Tribune Tom Olsen reports, “A former University of Minnesota Duluth coach was not fired because of her sexual orientation, a three-judge panel ruled. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld last year’s dismissal of a federal lawsuit filed by Jen Banford, who served as head softball coach and women’s hockey operations director. Banford was the final remaining plaintiff in a seven-year legal battle that saw former women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller receive a $4.53 million settlement after a jury’s finding of discrimination and retaliation. Former women’s basketball coach Annette Wiles also had her claims thrown out, but did not pursue an appeal with Banford.”

KSTP-TV’s Krystal Frasier says, “The latest report from the United States Drought Monitor shows a slight improvement in conditions in Minnesota and Wisconsin since last week. According to Thursday’s report, 2.87% of Minnesota is listed as being in a severe drought, down from last week’s report of 4.02%. In addition, moderate drought conditions decreased from 13.83% to 11.29%, while abnormally dry conditions decreased from 34.16% to 28.14%.”

A KMSP-TV story by Theo Keith says, “Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he will keep reinforcements in Minneapolis indefinitely to help the city’s depleted police department curb violent crime. … Walz and his top public safety officials spoke Thursday at a light rail station outside U.S. Bank Stadium, two stops from where a 15-year-old was killed in a shooting on a light rail platform last week. Prosecutors have charged another teen for the killing. On recent weekends, the state has sent 20 extra troopers into Minneapolis along with BCA agents to address street racing, gang activity, and chase carjacking suspects from the air using the State Patrol’s helicopters.”

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For BringMeTheNews Tommy Wiita says, “A woman is in a ‘potentially life threatening’ condition after being shot outside of the downtown Minneapolis Target Wednesday evening. The Minneapolis Police Department said the incident happened at 5:45 p.m. in the area of S. 9th St. and Nicollet Mall, with officers arriving to find a woman in her mid-20s suffering from a serious gunshot wound. The woman was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center after treatment at the scene.”

Also at KMSP, this from Maury Glover, “In the land of 10,000 lakes, few are as popular as Lake Minnetonka. On a typical day, you’ll find boats of all shapes and sizes, but recently, one of the most recognizable has been conspicuously absent. ‘She really is an icon for this community and a symbol of the Lake Minnetonka area,’ said Museum of Lake Minnetonka board member Aaron Person. For the last 3 years, the Minnehaha steamboat has called a storage barn in Excelsior its year-round home. … the restored Minnehaha has taken about 10,000 passengers a summer on a journey to an earlier age. But in 2019, the Museum of Lake Minnetonka, the non-profit that owns and operates the boat, lost access to the land used to get the boat in and out of the water, leaving the vintage vessel stuck on shore.”

This from Stribbers Kim Hyatt and Alex Chhith, “A pair of suspects have been arrested in Chicago following last week’s gunfire inside a crowded store at the Mall of America, police said Thursday. Shamar Alon Lark, 21, of Minneapolis and Rashad Jamal May, 22, of Burnsville were arrested during a traffic stop conducted by the Chicago FBI’s Fugitive Task Force about 2:25 p.m. Thursday, Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges said during a news conference Thursday evening. The two had just left a barbershop and were in a vehicle with another person who was driving. Lark and May were arrested without incident and are in the process of being booked into the Cook County jail in Illinois and then will be extradited to Minnesota, according to Hodges.”

For MPR Nina Moini, Ngoc Bui and Megan Burks report, “The Federal Emergency Management Agency has announced emergency aid for 23 Minnesota counties that sustained damage from flooding, heavy winds and tornadoes in May. There were at least five tornado touchdowns, including one with 120 mph winds in the tiny town of Forada, near Alexandria in Douglas County.”

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