Christopher Magan / St. Paul Pioneer Press
STILLWATER, Minn. -- For the first time in a long time, state lawmakers who make policies about prisons spent some time in one. Five members of the House Corrections Subcommittee toured the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater on Friday, Jan. 25. Next week, the subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing at the prison in Bayport. For Warden Eddie Miles, both are firsts in his decade-long tenure. “It gives us an opportunity to show just what we do and who we are,” Miles said.
ST. PAUL — As the partial shutdown of the federal government drags on, the University of Minnesota is covering $500,000 per day worth of government grants that are not being paid. The tally has reached $10 million so far and there’s an expectation, but not certainty, the university will get paid back.
ST PAUL -- Minnesota’s courts can decide if students are deprived of their right to an adequate education, but a group of parents arguing teacher union protections hurt their children’s chances of attending a good school lack evidence. That’s the essence of a ruling from a Minnesota Court of Appeals panel released Tuesday, Jan. 22, in a lawsuit against the state that claims teacher union protections like tenure and seniority-based layoffs deprive students of an equal and adequate education.
ST. PAUL — Health care was a top issue during the 2018 campaign and Minnesota lawmakers have wasted no time detailing their ideas for improving the system by making it more affordable and accessible. The challenge is Republicans and Democrats have vastly different ideas on the best ways to accomplish those goals. Members of the Republican-led Senate on Wednesday, Jan. 16, pitched the idea that patients with better relationships with their doctors and a clearer understanding of the price of procedures and drugs would lower overall health care costs.
ST. PAUL -- People who rely on food stamps to eat have until Tuesday, Jan 15, to make sure their eligibility is in order to guarantee their federal benefits in February. That was among the warnings Minnesota lawmakers heard Monday from state leaders working to manage the longest partial shutdown of the federal government in U.S. history. Monday was the 24th day of the shutdown of nine federal agencies.
ST. PAUL — As many as 300,000 Minnesota seniors have some potentially confusing health insurance shopping to do this fall. Their Medicare Cost plans, offered by private insurers to limit out-of-pocket expenses, will no longer be available after this year and they need to sign up for something else. The change comes after an update in federal law to phase out cost plans because they are more expensive to administer.
ST. PAUL — The opioid crisis has gotten so bad that some employers are struggling to find sober workers. "The drug-testing challenge is a significant one for hiring," said Charlie Weaver, executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, an organization of 120 CEOs from companies that employ about 400,000 Minnesotans. Weaver and the state Department of Health announced a partnership Tuesday, Sept. 18, to create an opioid toolkit for employers to help workers struggling with addiction.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Education expects to award at least 50 schools up to $500,000 each this fall to improve building security and safety. The $25 million in school safety grants was included in the capital investment, or bonding bill, passed by the Minnesota Legislature in May. Lawmakers signaled they wanted to spend about double that on security improvements but couldn't reach a deal. If interest in the grants is any sign, the cash will go fast.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota has a new online tool to help outdoor enthusiasts plan trips to state and regional parks and trails. The Minnesota Great Outdoors website, launched Tuesday, allows park-goers to search a state map of parks and trails and compare amenities. "Previously, you would have to know which office or region managed the park or trail you were looking for. Now, you have a clear, easy-to-navigate launchpad to find all of the information you need to plan your trip," said Commissioner Tom Landwehr, of the state Department of Natural Resources, in a statement.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton decided to save one of the most bipartisan bills for last. "That's the last bill I'll sign as governor of Minnesota. And a great one to end on," the Democrat said after signing a bill to stabilize pension funds that provide benefits to 511,000 current and retired state workers. Dayton held a signing ceremony in the Capitol rotunda Thursday, May 31, which he noted was "packed to the rafters" with cheering government workers. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously during the legislative session that concluded May 21.