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Minnesota is once again mired in partisan dysfunction in St. Paul. Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, and Republican leaders who control both chambers of the legislature are far apart in their budget proposals, a troublesome stalemate as the session nears completion. The governor and legislators are at odds over how to spend Minnesota's projected $1.65 billion surplus. Dayton wants to spend more on education, including his voluntary pre-kindergarten proposal. Republicans want to spend the surplus on transportation funding and tax cuts.
BEMIDJI -- One Bemidji Area Schools student was airlifted and five others removed by ambulance from the scene of school bus accident this morning. A school bus filled with elementary students was heading south on Irvine Avenue Northwest at about 7:40 a.m. when it was struck by a car heading east on South Movil Lake Road, and the bus came to rest on its side in the ditch. Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said the car failed to stop at a stop sign there.
MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota health officials are asking parents and medical workers to be on the lookout after 20 children have come down with measles in Hennepin County. The state Department of Health requests people watch for potential cases and help make sure Minnesota children are protected through vaccinations. Hennepin County and state health workers are trying to identify places where people could have been exposed and are at risk. Officials said Monday that the cases were in the county's Somali community.
A man acquitted in a 2013 murder-arson case is believed to be the same person who fled from law enforcement during a traffic stop in Itasca State Park on Wednesday, April 5. Fredrick William Bachman, 30, was identified Thursday, April 6, as the suspect who eluded officers the previous afternoon when Itasca State Park officials reported a person residing in a cabin but wasn't paying. As of Friday morning, he was still not in custody.
BATTLE LAKE—Battle Lake police are looking into a possible child abduction after they responded to witness reports Friday night, April 7. Witnesses told police they saw a male driver exit a black SUV and grab an older male student who was around 14 or 15 years old with black hair and wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt with blue jeans. The boy and his skateboard were put into the SUV, and witnesses said the victim was pounding on the window and yelling for help. There may have been a woman in the passenger seat of the vehicle, witnesses told police.
Health care and health insurance are volatile topics. Everyone has an opinion, no one thinks the present system is good enough, but no one seems to have the perfect answer on how to make it better. The issue of health care resonates with people across the region and across the country. Many people in agriculture are self employed. Many ag businesses and rural businesses are small. Many rural communities lack nearby health care. So while the issue of health care tends to be contentious for people nationwide, for those of us in rural areas, it's a top problem.
Minnesotans will have a chance to keep their vehicle after someone else is convicted of drunk driving in it. Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill into law Monday, April 3, protecting an innocent vehicle owner when someone else uses it without permission or knowledge. Existing law allowed the vehicle to be forfeited even if the owner was not the driver. "This reform reflects the important balance between public safety and the rights of innocent vehicle owners," Dayton said, adding the new law provides fairness.
In Washington, a vote on repeal-and-replace was postponed this week. A bill to scrap the state's health exchange, MNsure, in favor of the federal version is being debated in St. Paul. Clearly, "It is time to pay attention to this because it's going to have a big impact on Minnesotans," as MNsure CEO Allison O'Toole said in an interview late last week with the Duluth News Tribune editorial board. "We know most Minnesotans interact with their health insurance (later in the year) around open enrollment. That's going to be too late. It's time to pay attention now."
Are owners of agricultural land being asked to shoulder an unfair portion of the taxes to pay for school building projects? In some cases, yes — and that's why so many school capital referendums are defeated in Greater Minnesota. Not because they're not needed but because it's difficult to get support from farmers when they know they'd have to pay the bulk of the cost.