The new Minnesota Farm Service Agency director looks forward to working through pandemic-related challenges to effectively deliver programs that help farmers succeed. Whitney Place, who most recently was an assistant commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, says offices are doing what they can to be accessible: "I know it’s frustrating for some folks who can’t get into their offices, but it’s a priority to keep all of our staff safe and our customers safe. So we’re working through all those issues and have been for a while to make sure that we’re available via phone or email." Place says conservation [...]
Governor Tim Walz today announced a $5.1 billion plan to support Minnesota children and families. Walz's proposal would expand pre-kindergarten throughout the state for 23,000 kids. The plan also calls for a Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program... "Families shouldn't have to choose with being home with a sick child, or being able to be there on leave the birth of their child to spend those incredible first weeks and months of bonding together." The plan would invest an additional two percent on the general education formula and reduce cross-subsidies for special education and English language learners. And the governor's [...]
Minnesota Housing Agency officials announced that the state's emergency rental assistance program, set up in response to the COVID pandemic, will not be accepting any more applications after 9pm Friday (1/28) because the program is running out of federal funds. Democratic Representatives Alice Hausman from Saint Paul and Michael Howard from Richfield are calling on the governor, House and Senate to work together to provide assistance for renters. Hausman says: "The eviction moratorium helped for a little while, the eviction notice (requirement) helped for a little while, but this isn't going to go away. This is going to be with us." [...]
The crime wave that's hit Minnesota will likely figure prominently when Senate Republicans unveil their 2022 legislative session priorities later this morning (11am). House Democrats on Monday proposed a 100-million-dollar package heavily weighted toward prevention and Speaker Melissa Hortman says: "Republicans are really good at marketing here, but it's kind of like, where's the beef?" Republicans accuse Democrats of being "soft on crime" and supporting lighter sentences for some offenders. Cambridge Representative Brian Johnson says: "We need start doing things to hold those who commit crimes accountable, make sure that they're not walking out in the communities." Public safety will likely [...]
Battle lines over the state's 7.7-billion-dollar budget surplus will be even sharper when Senate Republicans roll out their priorities for the upcoming 2022 legislative session this morning (11am). Yesterday House Democrats sent strong signals about using billions of the surplus to increase funding for child care and early learning, K-12 and higher education. House Speaker Melissa Hortman says D-F-Lers compromised with Republicans on the budget last year, lower than they would have liked to: "Democrats fought for more investment in education and workforce training, and our compromise budget came up short. Now we have an opportunity to go back and add [...]
The state legislative session begins next Monday and Hamline University political science professor David Schultz says overshadowing everything... "The 2022 elections...everything that's going to happen is going to happen under the light of the 2022 elections." Schultz notes that Governor Tim Walz is running for re-election, and he is being challenged by Republicans currently serving in the state Senate, including Paul Gazelka and Michelle Benson. As lawmakers consider election implications, they also have to prioritize spending with a record $7.7 billion budget surplus.
Education Minnesota President Denise Specht supports Governor Tim Walz's $212 million plan to prioritize mental health and the well-being of the state's students in his Minnesota student and family funding proposal. Specht says... "The one thing that I'm hearing all over the state is the need for mental health supports, you know we needed mental health support professionals even before the pandemic." Specht says the lack of mental health resources for children has always been a problem but now it’s a crisis.
The federal civil rights trial against three former Minneapolis police officers continues today. Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng are accused of depriving George Floyd of his constitutional rights on the day Floyd was killed. Former U-S Attorney for Minnesota Tom Heffelfinger says the actions of former officer Derek Chauvin will be key in the trial... "The prosecution is going to build their proof against these three officers by proving what Chauvin did, the 3 defendants are to a very large degree going to blame Chauvin for his conduct against Floyd and try to exonerate themselves by pointing at [...]
Minnesota native Bob Dylan has sold his catalog of recorded music to Sony Music Entertainment, in deal that sources tell "Variety" is worth 150 to 200 million dollars. It includes classics like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Reuters reports the deal is the latest in Sony's relationship with Dylan that spans six decades. In December, 80-year-old Dylan sold his songwriting catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group for a reported 300 million dollars.
An influential Republican in the Minnesota House says he's disappointed in Democrats' 100-million-dollar crime-fighting proposal. Cambridge Representative Brian Johnson says they put more money for trees in their energy package, than dollars for more police in this proposal: "E-mail I just received today from a lady that lives in Minneapolis that's afraid to even go out of her house right now, it's getting so bad down there." Minnesota House Democrats have proposed more money for community non-profits, community policing and additional investigators. New Hope Representative Cedrick Frazier: "This proposal absolutely goes towards creating a comprehensive plan, as opposed to taking just [...]