>>Minnesota Senate Votes on Public Safety, Jobs & Commerce Legislation
(St. Paul, MN) — Voting on state budget bills continues at the Minnesota Capitol today (Friday) with the Senate taking up funding packages for public safety, jobs, and commerce. Republicans warn Democrats’ public safety bill will give criminals a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, they say making thousands of offenders eligible for early release, including those convicted of serious crimes and juvenile offenders tried as adults. The D-F-L is pushing anti-gun-violence measures such as universal background checks and a “red flag” law, but they are not included in this bill. And Democrats, including Attorney General Keith Ellison, are highlighting a provision in the commerce budget bill establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board that would have the authority to set upper payment limits on certain high-cost drugs.
>>Senate Approves $450 Million Ag Funding, Broadband Budget
(St. Paul, MN) — The 450-million-dollar rural development bill the Minnesota Senate passed Thursday includes 100 million dollars to extend broadband Internet to areas that don’t have it. Republican Eric Lucero ) from Saint Michael cautions, don’t use up the money in areas where it isn’t cost-effective to install traditional high-speed internet. The bill’s chief author, Saint Cloud Democrat Aric Putnam says, “My intent… is to make it as flexible as possible so that decisions can be made about particular regions, particular needs, and particular technologies.” The bill would also send 150 thousand dollars to Central Lakes College to continue developing its programs to train meat cutters and butchers, who are currently in short supply in Minnesota.
>>Walz Plans to Sign Bill Adding $40 Million to Disaster Contingency Fund
(St. Paul, MN) — Governor Tim Walz says he will sign a bill that replenishes the state’s nearly-depleted Disaster Contingency Account. The Minnesota House unanimously approved adding 40 million dollars to the fund Thursday. The governor decides, in consultation with federal emergency management officials, which communities receive state disaster assistance. Walz says, “If we don’t reach major emergency status or declaration status where FEMA comes in and there’s some federal help in this, the state of Minnesota is still prepared in a very efficient effective manner to move funds when we need to.” The account is currently down to 750 thousand dollars and the state uses about 20 million a year.
>>Flooding Closes Highway 93 near Henderson in South Central Minnesota
(Mankato, MN) — Highway 93 from Henderson to Highway 169 in south central Minnesota is closed due to spring flooding. MnDOT says traffic is being detoured to Highway 19 until the water recedes and crews can make necessary repairs. This area along the Minnesota River is prone to flooding. Officials are reminding drivers that it is illegal and dangerous to travel on a closed road.
>>River Conditions Hamper Search for Wisconsin Man Near Taylor Falls
(Taylors Falls, MN) — Authorities continue to search for a Wisconsin man who fell from a cliff into the St. Croix River in Taylor Falls, but they were unable to use boats Thursday afternoon. The Chisago County Sheriff’s Office says the water flow rate and the amount of debris in the river have made navigation impossible to do safely with search equipment. Deputies say they will continue to do ground and air searches as appropriate and will reassess the water situation. Eighteen-year-old D’Andrea Sanvig of Luck lost his footing on a rock ledge Tuesday night in Interstate Park.
>>MPLS Chief Rips Ex-Officer Chauvin After Police Brutality Settlements
(Minneapolis, MN) — Strong words from Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara about Derek Chauvin, after the city council approved nearly nine million dollars in settlements with two victims of the ex-officers brutality from incidents three years before he murdered George Floyd. Chief O’Hara said, “I’m appalled at the repetitive behavior of this coward and disgusted by the inaction and acceptance of the behavior by members of this agency such conduct is a disgrace to this badge and an embarrassment to what is truly a noble profession.” O’Hara says Chauvin’s badge number will be destroyed and permanently removed from our rosters.
>>Isanti Man Sentenced for Fatally Shooting Woman and Burying Her
(Cambridge, MN) — A man from Isanti is sentenced to nearly 24 years in prison for fatally shooting a woman after a night of drinking and burying her on his property. Richard Melvin Peterson received a 285-month sentence Thursday after pleading guilty to the second-degree murder of 32-year-old Amanda Jo Vangrinsven. She was last seen leaving the Rum River V-F-W with Peterson on August 5th, 2021, and reported missing two days later. Vangrinsven’s body was discovered on Peterson’s property on August 9th.
>>Mounds View Man Draws Life Sentence for Wife’s 2010 Murder
(St. Paul, MN) — The sentence is life in prison without parole for a Mounds View man convicted of fatally shooting his wife 13 years ago in St. Paul. A jury found Nicholas Firkus guilty of first- and second-degree murder in the shooting of Heidi Firkus. Heidi was shot to death on April 25th, 2010, and Nicholas claimed that he was struggling with an intruder when the shotgun went off, striking Heidi in the back. Police found no signs of a break-in and the F-B-I said it used new technology to tie Nicholas to his wife’s shooting in 2021.