Ryan Faircloth / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — As talk of marijuana legalization continues at the state Capitol, one Minnesota Democrat wants to let voters have a say on the issue. Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, introduced a bill Tuesday, Jan. 22, that would put recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2020. The measure must pass through the House and Senate before it could appear on the ballot as a constitutional amendment. “The primary purpose is to end prohibition,” Dehn said.
ST. PAUL - A group fighting the legalization of recreational marijuana in Minnesota took their arguments to the State Capitol on Wednesday and were met by hecklers who support the drug. Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Minnesota, an anti-legalization group, invited community members and law enforcement officials to speak Jan. 16 to the risks of marijuana at a Capitol press conference. At least a dozen pro-pot activists interrupted the speakers with their own views on the issue.
ST. PAUL — An Arkansas man who strangled his girlfriend in her Edina apartment and then burned her body in Louisiana has been sentenced to just over 20 years in prison. Joseph Porter, 26, pleaded guilty Tuesday, Jan. 15, to second-degree unintentional murder for killing 27-year-old Cristina Prodan. Porter agreed to a higher sentence than recommended because he admitted to particular cruelty — he did not call police, hid Prodan’s body and caused stress for her mother.
ST. PAUL -- A quiet morning at the state Capitol was interrupted this past week by a familiar echo that rang louder by the minute. Hurried footsteps and murmured exchanges quickly reached a crescendo as activists filed in by the hundreds. They waived signs and shouted their cause to lawmakers who entered the House and Senate chambers. This sequence — now that the Minnesota Legislature is back in town — will likely unfold again and again as the 2019 session rolls on.
ST. PAUL — The University of Minnesota is seeking an $87 million bump in state funding over the next two years, and even that won’t keep students from having to pay more for tuition. University President Eric Kaler made a case for the increase in funding at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 9, touting the university’s economic impact and bringing in students and faculty to speak to the work they do in the state.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s new staff includes three holdovers from the Mark Dayton administration and others who worked for Walz in Washington and on the campaign trail. The staffers will hold policy, communications and other senior positions in the governor’s office. Named Walz’s chief of staff was Chris Schmitter, who was deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Walz in the U.S. House. Hue Nguyen, who previously worked as a senior policy advisor for Dayton, will be Walz’s deputy chief of staff for policy and legislative affairs. Other hires include:
ST. PAUL - Monday will be Mark Dayton’s last day as Minnesota governor. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at his two terms: 52 percent — Increase in annual state spending since Dayton took office in 2011. In his first year, the state spent $15.3 billion (that rises to $17.1 billion when adjusted for money paid back to schools and federal stimulus aid). In fiscal year 2019, state spending will reach $23.2 billion.
ST. PAUL -- Emboldened by solid gains on election night, Minnesota Democrats plan to push hard for stricter gun laws at the Capitol this year. Expanding criminal background checks for sales and creating “red flag” protective orders will be near the top of their agenda when they take control of the House on Jan. 8. Democratic Gov.-elect Tim Walz, a gun owner once backed by the National Rifle Association also supports the proposals. A Republican-led Senate, though, could stand in the way.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s incoming class of Asian American lawmakers are banding together to form their own caucus and give a voice to their communities. Six Hmong lawmakers — four new members and two incumbents — will serve in the Legislature come January. On Tuesday, the group of DFL lawmakers announced the formation of the first Minnesota Asian Pacific Caucus and laid out their goals for the upcoming session.
ST. PAUL — Alec Smith died less than a month after he fell off his parents’ health insurance plan because he could not foot the $1,300 bill to refill his insulin. The 26-year-old died last year from diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious condition that can be prevented with insulin. Smith was trying to stretch out his remaining medication until his next paycheck. On Tuesday, Dec. 11, his mother, Nicole Smith-Holt, fought back tears as she asked Minnesota’s lawmakers to rein in rising insulin costs next year.