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Ellison launches Minnesota consumer protection probe into Kia, Hyundai theft vulnerabilities

Plus: Gov. Tim Walz signs driver’s license bill; Fairview’s chief executive endorses U proposal to takeover campus hospitals; St. Louis County judge dies while on vacation in Florida; and more.

Attorney General Keith Ellison
Attorney General Keith Ellison
REUTERS/Eric Miller

This from Erin Adler of the Strib, “[Ian] Evans is among thousands of Kia and Hyundai owners whose vehicles were stolen in Minneapolis or St. Paul in 2022 — something Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said happens far too often. On Tuesday, Ellison announced he’s launching an investigation into the vehicle thefts. The civil investigation will look into whether the two car companies are violating Minnesota’s consumer protection and public nuisance laws because they don’t have the anti-theft technology most other cars do, making them easy to steal, Ellison said at a news conference. The cars ‘might as well have a giant bumper sticker that says ‘steal me’ on them,’ Ellison said. More than 3,200 Kia and Hyundai vehicles were stolen in 2022 in Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

For KSAT-TV in San Antonio Patty Santos says, “A rise in thefts of older-model KIA and Hyundai vehicles is prompting a software update for drivers. Brian Rodriguez with Ancira KIA says vehicles that are older than 2022 can be updated. ‘This update is a dealer-only specific update, has to be done with the KIA computer. You can’t take it to, you know, an aftermarket shop. You can’t do it at home. This is dealer specific,’ he explained. Owners may get a letter in the mail. They can also call their local dealerships to schedule any necessary updates. A visit to the dealership could take about an hour but save people a lot of heartache.”

For WCCO-TV Marielle Mohs reports, “Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday signed a bill into law that will allow residents to get a driver’s license no matter their immigration status.  Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan arrived at the St. Paul Armory to a round of applause from supporters of the bill. Last month, the DFL-controlled Minnesota Legislature passed the bill and sent it to Walz’s desk. The effort, dubbed ‘driver’s licenses for all,’ is 20 years in the making for supporters of the policy, who say it will improve public safety and allow people without legal status to continue contributing to the state’s economy.”

At MPR News, Dan Kraker says, “Last month a standing-room only crowd packed an Itasca County Board of Commissioners work session to urge the board to declare Itasca County a ‘2nd Amendment Dedicated County’ — a symbolic but controversial resolution to uphold county residents’ gun rights, and ‘oppose any infringement on the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms’. … After the resolution was read aloud, Board Chair Burl Ives invited supporters of it to address the board. One by one, 25 people approached the microphone and adamantly  backed the proposal, citing the need to preserve hunting traditions, protect the Constitution, stand up against a ‘tyrannical’ government and push back against gun rights measures under consideration at the state legislature. Then Ives invited opponents to speak. ‘Going once, going twice, I’m going to go three times,’ he said.”

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For BringMeTheNews Adam Uren reports, “The suspect described as a ‘threat actor’ has reportedly posted some of the data they accessed following a hack of Minneapolis Public Schools systems online. MPS provided the update to families and staff on Tuesday following a recent ‘encryption event’ that forced the cancellation of parent-teacher conferences last month and has caused problems with school communications. The district says its network was infected with an encryption virus that was caused by the so-called ‘threat actor’ who gained access within the system. It has now been confirmed that the actor ‘who has claimed responsibility for our recent encryption event’ has now ‘posted online some of the data they accessed from MPS.’

Stribber Jeremy Olson says, “If the University of Minnesota wants to press its billion-dollar plan to take back ownership of its medical center, then it has a willing seller. Fairview Health’s chief executive on Monday endorsed a plan to transfer west and east bank hospitals in Minneapolis to university control if it clears the way for the Twin Cities health care provider to merge with South Dakota-based Sanford Health. ‘We support and formally endorse the University’s five-point plan, as we currently understand it, to include the preliminary step of acquiring these assets,’ said a letter from Fairview CEO James Hereford, which was co-signed by Sanford CEO Bill Gassen. U leaders responded with appreciation that Fairview was willing to yield control of Minnesota’s primary teaching hospital and prevent it from falling under the ownership of an out-of-state entity.”

Says MPR’s Paul Huttner: “Most forecast models suggest less than an inch of snow for the Twin Cities Wednesday. A couple of outlier models suggest there could be some localized pockets with 2 inches or so. Temperatures will be above freezing Wednesday afternoon in the Twin Cities, so roads may be mostly just wet by the afternoon commute. … Thursday’s potential snow system is full of forecast questions at this point. Forecast models over the weekend into Monday were gung-ho on big snow for the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota. They dialed back big time on Tuesday with a faster, more southerly storm track.”

For KARE-TV Dana Thiede says, “A Minnesota judge is being remembered for her pioneering work in mental health treatment court and family settlements following her unexpected death while on vacation Monday. Duluth Circuit Court Judge Sally Tarnowski passed away Monday in Florida. At this time there is no word on what caused her death. Tarnowski was just 63 years old.  Judge Tarnowski served as Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial District from 2016 to 2020 and was serving as a St. Louis County judge in Duluth at the time of her passing.”