Minnesota plans to put to good use its share of the recently-passed trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. State Transportation Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher says the money will be used to bolster transit and make improvements to make travelers safer... "The level of crashes in Minnesota is unacceptable, across the country it's unacceptable, so we're going to look to places where we can make those investments more immediately." Minnesota is set to receive around $4.5 billion from the federal government for highway and transportation projects.
State Patrol Sergeant Jesse Grabow says one question drivers should always ask themselves during the winter... "If that vehicle in front of you that you're following spins out, loses control, whatever happens and they create a hazard, are you gonna be able to react accordingly and avoid it safely?" Grabow says the key to safe winter driving... "It just comes down to slowing down, increase your following distance, keep the seatbelt on, and just always, always, always pay attention." Grabow says allow more time for your trip -- and a little patience will go a long way.
Governor Tim Walz is offering to call a special session November 29th, but with conditions Senate Republicans likely won't agree to: Both sides haven't been able to agree on which front-line workers will receive COVID bonuses. Walz also wants lawmakers to approve COVID relief measures -- some of them strongly opposed by Republicans. And the governor wants Republicans to agree not to oust Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, an option they indicate they're not willing to give up. Senate Republican Majority Leader Jeremy Miller calls Walz's end-of-the-week letter a "publicity stunt." Walz says there's no reason to hold important measures hostage.
October home sales in Minnesota were 16 percent lower than the same month in 2020, which was part of a "banner" fall-into-winter season for real estate. But despite the return to a more typical seasonal slowdown, Chris Galler (GAL-er) with the industry group Minnesota Realtors says: "Even through the winter months we're anticipating that there'll be brisk sales, compared to what we would usually have at this time of the year." Galler says there are still problems because the inventory of homes on the market can't meet buyer demand. He says employment is strong and wages are up -- but the [...]
Senator Amy Klobuchar calls the just-signed-into law trillion-dollar infrastructure bill a "historic investment in the country's future." As part of the bill, Minnesota should receive about a hundred million dollars for the expansion of broadband Internet access and Klobuchar says... "Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has personally committed to me that we will make sure that the broadband money gets out in Minnesota and gets out to communities who need it and she's known as a person who believes in accountability, so I think that's a positive that she's heading this up." Minnesota's portion of the bill also includes four-and-a-half billion dollars [...]
Minnesota is getting 106 million dollars in federal funds for its 2021-22 Energy Assistance Program -- and income limits are highest ever, says Michael Schmitz with the state Commerce Department: "This year we think almost 600 thousand households, or about one of every four households in Minnesota, could qualify for this program based on our income qualification limits." Schmitz says for renters and homeowners there's just one application for energy assistance on past or future heating bills... and for help with weatherization, insulation or even repair or replacement of a broken heating system. And for the first time there's also assistance [...]
A Hopkins woman who called herself a "psychic' is charged with swindling two vulnerable adults out of more than $130,000. 26-year-old Cynthia Evans is accused of convincing two adults with mental health issues to spend thousands of dollars for things like ceremonial candles and a Rolex, which Evans told one of her victims would cure a curse. The criminal complaint says Evans told one of the alleged victims that her "cancer would come back" if the woman didn’t pay Evans. Evans told authorities she was unaware that the victims had mental health issues and claims she was recommending things that would [...]
State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says Minnesota is now the fastest-growing COVID hot-spot in the country. Over 13-hundred are hospitalized, with more than 300 of those patients in I-C-U --- the highest numbers since late December of last year. Malcolm says availability of staffed hospital beds is extremely tight: "One percent of staffed beds are available in the metro region and four percent in the southeast. Availability is also in single digits across the central and northern regions of the state." Malcolm says I-C-U beds are even tighter. And she says there are no pediatric hospital beds available in Minnesota's northwest [...]
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm signaled today (Tues) if the federal government does not expand COVID booster-shot eligibility this week to everyone over age 18, the state will do it on its own. Malcolm says they're optimistic the federal announcement will come... "However I would say that, given the very serious circumstances we're (in) here in Minnesota, we've been communicating with our federal partners that we're preparing to move ahead independently this week to expand booster eligibility, if there is no action at the federal level -- which we definitely hope there will be this week." Malcolm's statement comes as officials [...]
Senator Amy Klobuchar at a Capitol Hill hearing Tuesday told Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that even though the border with Canada is re-opened, differences in each nation's COVID testing requirements are causing problems. Klobuchar says both countries require vaccinations to cross the border, but Canadian visitors must have an expensive test when they return: "That's stopping a lot of the more weekend visitors that might come to Minnesota, the day visitors that drive to Duluth." "It's not an American issue. It's on the Canadian side, and I've spoken to the ambassador. But it is a problem for the cross-border traffic. [...]