Nearly 43-million Americans will start their summer on a high note with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. Triple-A Minnesota's Mark Peterson says that's a nearly four-percent increase over last year: "Overall it's an additional 1.5 million people that will be on the roadways, rails, runways -- and that's about a 3.6 percent increase which is pretty substantial. So it's going to be an active holiday." This year's travel projections represent the second-highest travel volume ever recorded by Triple-A.
After nearly 80 years, a Minnesota Sailor is coming home. The recently identified remains of a Virginia, Minnesota sailor who was killed aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor will be returned to his hometown with full military honors this weekend. Radioman 3rd Class Dante S. Tini was 19 when he died and he was buried with other unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Thanks to DNA analysis and dental comparisons, scientists identified Tini's remains after 77 years. The remains are scheduled to arrive at Duluth International Airport today. (Thurs) A full funeral will [...]
Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is hoping lawmakers pass Tobacco 21 during their special legislative session. It would increase the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18-to-21. Spokeswoman Laura Smith: "Minnesota kids can't wait. They can't wait until the next session. There is time to get it done, there is growing support. So we call on the Minnesota legislature to stand up for our kids, stand up for our health and pass Tobacco 21 this year." At last check, 34 counties and cities, including Mankato have passed the Tobacco 21 policy across the state.
Minnesota cities get an ongoing 30-million-dollar annual increase in state aid, under a budget agreement Minnesota lawmakers are readying for a special session possibly later this week. Bradley Peterson with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities says there's "no doubt" some cities will hold down or even decrease property taxes "a little bit," while in other cities property taxes could go up slightly, depending on their budget situation: "For sure, property taxes won't be as high as they otherwise would have been, but on a city-by-city basis, again, it's hard to say." There's also a similar increase for state aid to [...]
Dating back to 1999, eight of the last 10 legislative sessions in budget years have resulted in special sessions. That's the case this year, even though Governor Walz and legislative leaders came to an agreement before Monday's adjournment deadline. "The fact that they got the agreement done at the last minute, isn't proof that divided government works, but yet again a sign there is something wrong out there with either the politics or the budget process or something in Minnesota." Hamline University Political analyst David Schultz calls the current session another example of "the new normal"--where the two parties have fundamentally [...]
Governor Tim Walz has signed into law (Wed) a bill establishing a fund for prevention and treatment of opioid addiction in Minnesota, paid for by fees on drug manufacturers and distributors. Willmar Republican Dave Baker, whose son died from an opioid overdose, told fellow lawmakers when the legislature passed the bill Monday night... "We had to tell our children, Olivia and Alex, about their older brother, Dan, who wasn't coming home.... I remember seeing my dad and mom walking in the door, and they had lost their grandson." The bill would raise 20 million dollars a year from registration fees on [...]
A less-than-enthusiastic endorsement -- especially from some Democrats -- as Minnesota House and Senate negotiators wrapped up a 20-plus-billion dollar public school funding bill in preparation for a special session likely later this week. Maplewood Senator Chuck Wiger (WEE-ger) says the bill is "improved" over what it was before: "It's agreed to, and eventually the democracy has to move ahead with an agreement." Republican Senator Gary Dahms from Redwood Falls says he's a "little disappointed" there's not more reform in the bill, but... "There's some really good pieces of legislation in here for rural Minnesota. I appreciate seeing that." The [...]
Speaker Melissa Hortman e-mailed Minnesota House members last night (Wed) that Friday is the earliest there could be a special session to wrap up the state budget: Wednesday was for tying-up details on as many of the state budget bills as possible -- and when negotiators reached impasses, Governor Tim Walz, Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman stepped in. Most analysts agree it would be best for the legislature to pass the rest of the budget before Memorial Day, otherwise some lawmakers could have second thoughts on parts of the budget agreement. And if the [...]
State lawmakers got the rundown on a broad farm bill this morning, ahead of a vote in the upcoming special session. State Ag Commissioner Thom Peterson says the bill covers all types of agriculture... "With a really tough winter and a very tough spring, this bill goes a long way to helping our farmers." The bill has provisions to expand trade, hemp farming, good food access and dairy farm relief. And it has funding to increase mental health services for farmers.
A bill U.S. Senator Tina Smith is introducing would block big pharmaceutical companies from extending their patents after making only minor changes to a drug: "Might be for example just adding salt to the formulation and then that allows them to extend their patent, their market exclusive for five years." Smith says when a patent is extended it blocks the generic drug companies from producing a cheaper version of the drug: "They're basically buying a monopoly by buying time." Democrat Smith is introducing the legislation with Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas.