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Minnesota House passes recreational marijuana bill, Senate vote and Walz signature next

Plus: What’s going on with Keg and Case; Minnesota needs more tech workers; air quality alert; and most popular baby names.

A worker organizing cannabis flowers before the opening of the first legal recreational marijuana dispensary in Manhattan on December 29, 2022.
A worker organizing cannabis flowers before the opening of the first legal recreational marijuana dispensary in Manhattan on December 29, 2022.
REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Stribber Ryan Faircloth reports, “Minnesota is just one Senate vote and a governor’s signature away from legalizing recreational marijuana for adults. The DFL-controlled House voted 73-57 to legalize marijuana on Thursday night. The Senate could take up the bill as early as Friday. Pending Senate approval, the bill will head to the desk of Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, who’s pledged to sign it. … The bill allows Minnesotans 21 and older to buy up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower, 8 grams of concentrate and 800 milligrams worth of edible products at a time, and possess those amounts while in public.”

At KSTP-TV Kristen Swanson says, “The Minneapolis Police Department will be under court supervision for at least several years as part of a recent settlement agreement over its pattern and practice of race discrimination. But the reform efforts negotiated earlier this year with the state are only a precursor to the oversight anticipated from the federal government that could last as long as a decade. A 5 INVESTIGATES review of consent decrees in a dozen other cities, as well as interviews with police and legal experts across the country, reveal a long and challenging road ahead for MPD.”

For Axios Nick Halter says, “St. Paul’s Keg and Case Market was the darling of the Twin Cities food scene five years ago. Now it’s 70% vacant and its owners are facing a potential foreclosure. Why it matters: Keg & Case was at the forefront of a wave of modern food halls that opened in the Twin Cities. What happened: The pandemic wiped out most of the 27 tenants in the building, including In Bloom, the anchor restaurant by the owners of Revival. Today, there are just nine.”

Says Stribber Nick Williams, “Given the options of two coders working remotely — one who happened to live in Minnesota and one from at least a plane ride away — one local tech CEO would hire the in-state talent, for sure. … In the next 10 years, Minnesota businesses will have to fill 81,000 tech jobs, including 45,000 in the next five years, vacancies mostly from retirements and job changes to other states, according to the Minnesota Technology Association (MTA). In that same span, there will be an additional 6,500 IT jobs. Minnesota projects to produce only 6,600 new tech workers by 2032, not nearly enough to address all the positions.”

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An MPR News story says, “An air quality alert is in effect for all of Minnesota through 6 a.m. Friday, as smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to blanket the state. Conditions were particularly bad in western Minnesota on Thursday morning, with hazy, smoky skies reducing visibility in some areas. The ground-level smoke was forecast to move east across the state through the day. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said particulate levels across most of the state — including the Twin Cities — will be in the red, or unhealthy category. It’s advising all people — not just those with health conditions — to avoid spending prolonged time outdoors while the alert is in effect.”

This also from KSTP-TV: “Community leaders have announced events happening in the downtown area of Minneapolis this summer. Members of the Minneapolis downtown council, the Superintendent for the city’s Park and Recreation Board, and leaders of the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Lynx and Target, attended a news conference with Mayor Jacob Frey announcing the events. More than 1,800 events will be held in the downtown area this summer, according to Leah Wong, the vice president of external relations for the Minneapolis Downtown Council and the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District. Among those events are the following:

  • More than a dozen concerts
  • Dozens of professional sporting events
  • 280 performances at theaters
  • Pianos on Parade
  • Stone Arch Festival
  • Minneapolis Aquatennial
  • Street Art Festival
  • Loring Park Art Festival.”

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For The Spokesman Recorder Cole Miska writes, “In 2021, Minneapolis residents voted to authorize the City Council to enact a rent control ordinance. Yet almost two years later, the council has not passed any such ordinance.  While Minneapolis does not have rent control, St. Paul’s rent stabilization policy has been in effect for just over a year. … Out of the 100 largest cities, Minneapolis had the 87th lowest median rental rates at $1,092 a month, while St. Paul ranked 88th with $1,082 a month. This put the Twin Cities metro area median rent at approximately $300 more expensive than the cheapest of the 100 largest cities (Cleveland, Ohio, at $796), but almost $2,000 cheaper than the $3,028 median rent rates in Irvine, California. Minneapolis ranked slightly lower than the average monthly residential rent increase for large U.S. cities at 0.3%, while St. Paul matched the national average of 0.5% increase.”

A WCCO-TV story says, “ St. Paul police on Thursday announced an arrest in a suspected case of arson at an Islamic center. According to police, a 42-year-old man was taken into custody Wednesday evening and booked into Ramsey County Jail on suspicion of first-degree arson.”

Also at Axios Torey Van Oot reports, “Oliver overtook Henry as Minnesota’s most popular name for baby boys last year, while Charlotte continued her reign as parents’ top pick for girls. Driving the news: The Social Security Administration has released state-level data on names submitted for babies born in 2022. Here are the top five in Minnesota for each gender:

  • Boys: Oliver, Henry, Theodore, Liam and Jack.
  • Girls: Charlotte, Olivia, Emma, Evelyn and Nora.”