>>Governor Walz Encourages Lawmakers to Pass Infrastructure Bill
(St. Paul, MN) — Democrats need Republican votes to pass a bonding bill for state public works projects — the main task of the 2024 legislative session that’s now under way. And Governor Tim Walz, offering “apple blondie” bars to lawmakers on Monday’s opening day, didn’t forget Representative Dean Urdahl from Grove City, lead Republican on the House Capital Investment Committee. Walz said, “In honor of our champion of the bonding bill, so here we go.” Governor Walz has proposed an infrastructure bill of just under one billion dollars. Lawmakers are waiting for the next economic forecast at the end of the month to see what the state can afford — and then expect wrangling over the mix of projects.
>>Passage of North Star Act Less Than Certain at State Capitol
(St. Paul, MN) — Prospects are less than certain at the State Capitol this year for a bill that would make Minnesota a so-called “sanctuary state,” barring state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal officials on deportations. Incoming Senate Democratic Majority Leader Erin Murphy says, “”Introduced by one of our members. We’ll see if it gets heard. We’ll see if there’s support for it.” Republicans are highly critical of the proposal, which could become a campaign issue this presidential election year if it were to pass the Democrat-controlled Minnesota Legislature.
>>Activists Call for More Gun Safety Measures in Minnesota
(St. Paul, MN) — After last year’s success with universal background checks and a “red flag” law, activists are pushing for additional gun safety measures as state legislators begin the 2024 session. Suzie Kaufman with Moms Demand Action says her group wants laws passed this year requiring people to secure their weapons safely in their homes and also to report lost and stolen guns, “because the majority of weapons that are used in crimes are lost or stolen guns.” Governor Tim Walz says he’ll see what lawmakers bring forward, “but one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is, we do not need these weapons of war in our classrooms, on our streets.” Second amendment rights groups weren’t immediately available to comment.
>>State Health Officials Identify Source of Grand Rapids Legionnaires’ Disease
(Grand Rapids, MN) — The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is identifying areas of the municipal water system as the source of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Grand Rapids. Since April 2023, there have been 14 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in the area. M-D-H investigations linked the bacteria to the municipal water supply from two community buildings, which were highly related to the bacteria found in patient respiratory samples. Grand Rapids Public Utilities Manager Julie Kennedy stated their immediate focus is on developing a provisional plan to flush and disinfect the water system and installing a water chlorination system. Minnesota recorded 134 cases of Legionnaires’ disease last year, resulting in six deaths.
>>Move-In Day at New State Veterans Home in Bemidji
(Bemidji, MN) — This is move-in day (Tues am) at the new Minnesota Veterans Home in Bemidji. Officials from the state Department of Veterans Affairs will be welcoming the first residents and their families to the Northwoods-themed, skilled nursing facility. An official dedication ceremony is planned this summer. New State Veterans homes also opened last in month in Preston and Montevideo.
>>Longtime Minnetonka Police Sergeant Piper Dies of Cancer
(Minnetonka, MN) — The Minnetonka community is mourning the loss of veteran Police Sergeant Ryan Piper. City officials say Piper died Sunday after a long courageous battle with cancer. Piper joined the Minnetonka P-D in 1999 and served as a patrol officer, K-9 handler, SWAT member, traffic unit officer, investigator and a detective sergeant. The Minnetonka Police Department says it remembers Piper’s life of service and dedication to his family, friends and the community.
>>17 Year-Old Boy Killed in Crash with Semi in Northwest Minnesota
(Ada, MN) — A 17-year-old boy is dead after his car collided with a semi-truck Monday evening in northwest Minnesota’s Norman County. The State Patrol says the vehicles collided head-on on Highway 200 and the semi caught fire. The report says the 17-year-old driver from Gary died at the scene. The 76-year-old man driving the semi had minor injuries. Troopers plan to identify the victim this afternoon (Tues 12pm).
>>North Mankato Woman Suffers Severe Burns in House Fire
(North Mankato, MN) — Authorities are investigating a house fire in North Mankato that left a woman hospitalized with severe burns. Fire officials say there was a fire Sunday night, and a 41-year-old victim was airlifted to the Hennepin Healthcare Burn Unit. A Go Fund Me page says Bri Torvick is currently sedated and intubated with burns to 60 percent of her body. No one else was injured. Crews found significant damage to the kitchen and garage after putting out the fire.
>>Lutsen Lodge Owner Asks Public to Stop Speculating About Fire Cause
(Lutsen, MN) — The owner of a historic lodge that burned down on the North Shore last week says he’s tired of all the gossip about what caused the fire. Lutsen Lodge owner Bryce Campbell went on social media and asked people to stop spreading rumors and creating “unnecessary negativity.” Campbell said plans are already in place to rebuild the lodge as close as possible to the original structure. The historic Lutsen Lodge burned down last Tuesday, and state and local investigators are still trying to determine the cause.
>>Litchfield Man in Custody for Fleeing Police, Possessing Narcotics
(Litchfield, MN) — A 39-year-old man from Litchfield is in custody after fleeing from police and getting caught with drugs. A drug task force conducted surveillance on a Litchfield residence Friday in connection with a narcotics-related search warrant. Authorities say the suspect was seen leaving in a vehicle, prompting officers to attempt a traffic stop. The driver fled police for around a mile before crashing the vehicle and subsequently being arrested. A search of the residence revealed nearly 50 fentanyl pills, more than 10 ounces of methamphetamine, and a large amount of cash believed to be from previous drug sales.
>>Twins Announce 1-Year TV Deal With Bally Sports North
(Minneapolis, MN) — The Minnesota Twins have finalized their television plans for the upcoming season. The Twins announced Monday that they have signed a one-year deal with Diamond Sports Group to have their games carried on Bally Sports North. The Twins called the contract a “short-term” resolution and said they will be looking for new options for expanding the reach of team-related content next year. Bally Sports North is carried as part of several cable and satellite T-V packages but is not available on popular streaming services like YouTube and Hulu. The financial terms of the deal were not made public.
>>Vikings to Host Valentine’s Day Party with Build-A-Bear Foundation
(Minneapolis, MN) — The Minnesota Vikings will team up with the Build-A-Bear foundation to host a Valentine’s Day party tomorrow (WED) at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital. Volunteers will visit patients’ rooms to deliver gifts, while the lobby will feature crafts, activities, card boxes, and more. Head coach Kevin O’Connell, safety Josh Metellus (muh-TELL’-us) and Pro Bowl fullback C-J Ham are among the Vikings taking part in the event.