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Part of western Minnesota town evacuated after ethanol train derailment, fire

Plus: UnitedHealth says it’s dialing back some requirements for “prior authorizations”; new evidence presented in Tony Lazzaro’s trial; sites being considered for the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct; and more.

Railroad crossing signs and lights

For KARE 11, David Griswold reports, “Residents in western Raymond, Minnesota, were evacuated early Thursday morning after a train derailed and several rail cars started on fire. According to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office, numerous rail cars from a BNSF Railway train derailed on the western edge of Raymond at around 1 a.m. Officials say ‘several’ of the cars carrying a form of ethanol and ‘a corn syrup liquid’ started on fire. Residents within a half-mile of the derailment were asked to leave their homes and no travel into Raymond is being advised as crews continue their efforts to contain the fire.”

Christopher Snowbeck of the Strib says, “UnitedHealthcare says it is dialing back some requirements for ‘prior authorizations’ where the Minnetonka-based health insurer calls on doctors and patients to seek advance approval for certain treatments. The Wall Street Journal first reported the move Wednesday in a story noting that other national insurers also are reducing prior authorizations, which health plans commonly use to check if non-emergency services and prescriptions are clinically appropriate. The prior authorization process has created so much frustration, the Journal reports, that some state and federal regulators have made overtures of regulatory reform. Insurers, in turn, are now making small adjustments to their requirements.”

At KMSP-TV the story says, “White House officials announced Wednesday that President Joe Biden is headed to Minnesota next week to tout his economic agenda. … Biden’s complete agenda hasn’t been disclosed, but the travel advisory says he will be in the Minneapolis area for the trip on Monday, April 3.”

MPR’s Matt Sepic reports, “A former friend of one-time Minnesota Republican Party operative and key donor Anton ‘Tony’ Lazzaro gave the FBI text messages and other new evidence on the evening before prosecutors cross-examined Lazzaro in his federal sex trafficking trial. … A photo that [Charles Bittman, a former friend and business associate of Lazzaro], sent the FBI that was mentioned in previous testimony but not shown until Wednesday shows three girls naked and face down on Lazzaro’s bed. Lazzaro previously described the image as a selfie. ‘Mr. Lazzaro, I’m not going to keep this up very long, but that ain’t a selfie,’ Williams said.”

At Patch, William Bornhoft says, “A ‘multi-faceted’ late winter storm is still on track to hit the Twin Cities metro area Thursday and Friday. In addition to several inches of snow, the messy system will bring rain, freezing rain, and gusty winds. ‘Most areas will start as snow Thursday morning and transition to rain from south to north through the duration of Thursday through the night,’ the NWS states. Most areas will see the rain transition completely back to snow by 9 p.m.”

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For BringMeTheNews Tommy Wiita says, “Nearly three years after it was burned down during the civil unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd, the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct is set to return to the south of the city in a new building. City officials said four ‘community conversations’ will take place in April to discuss the next steps for a new precinct building in south Minneapolis. Two areas are currently under consideration after a survey was conducted from July 2020 through December 2022. The sites include the current property space at 3000 Minnehaha Ave. and a vacant, city-owned lot at 2600 Minnehaha Ave.”

Stribber Briana Bierschbach writes, “Seeking to crack down on the spread of disinformation, Minnesota legislators and state election officials are proposing new penalties for people who intentionally spread false information intended to prevent someone from voting. The proposal, nearing a vote as part of a broader DFL-led elections package, would carry a gross misdemeanor penalty and allow the attorney general and others to bring civil action against someone who violates the law within 60 days of an election.”

At MPR News, Tim Nelson and Brian Bakst say, “The Taste of Minnesota food and music festival that seemed as if it simply could not die – and then did – may be about to rise from its charcoal grill ashes.  And its resurrection could come with the help of state taxpayers through a subsidy that showed up in a budget bill this week, despite having never been vetted by a legislative committee. The entities behind the effort are saying little publicly for now. The event bounced over the years from the State Capitol grounds to the St. Paul riverfront and then to Waconia, until it was last held in 2015.  Records show the Secretary of State’s office recently issued an official Certificate of Organization for Taste of Minnesota LLC.”

In The Athletic Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski say, “Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore have closed a second, $290 million payment toward becoming full owners of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx and now own 40 percent of the franchises, team and league sources told The Athletic … . Here’s what you need to know:

  • In December, The Athletic reported that the pair had exercised their option to purchase another 20 percent of the teams, continuing their three-step plan to assume full control of the franchises from majority owner Glen Taylor.
  • They had until this month to close the second 20 percent of the deal.
  • The next step will be to purchase another 40 percent of the team. Lore and Rodriguez have until Dec. 31 to exercise that option.”

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