Today on the MPR News Update: A state Senate committee is hearing from both sides of the gun debate today, Minnesotans are reacting to news about drivers license data breaches, there's some skepticism about Mayo Clinic's job-creation projections regarding its proposed expansion, and we hear from the wife of a soldier coping with personal battles at home.
CONTROLLING GUN CONTROL DEBATE: A second round of gun control hearings at the state Capitol starting Thursday will not include discussion of the most controversial proposals, says a state legislator. The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, DFL Sen. Ron Latz, said his committee will not consider any proposals to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. We'll have more on the hearings later today.
RED LIGHT ON TRAFFIC CAMERAS: A bill that would allow cities to install cameras designed to catch drivers who run red lights hit a red light of its own in the Legislature. The House Transportation Policy Committee tabled the bill yesterday after several members raised concerns that the traffic cameras would violate civil liberties.
DATA PRIVACY: The Minnesota Legislative Auditor has recommended the state do a better job monitoring how law enforcement agencies are using driver's license data. The report found that dozens of officers conducted improper searches of the database, including the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee who has been in the news in recent weeks. Minnesota residents gave us a mixed reaction to the news.
MAYO JOBS: Members of a House committee have asked the Mayo Clinic to give more details on the jobs it says would be created through its proposed expansion plan. Mayo says it can add about 35,000 jobs to southeast Minnesota over the next two decades through an expansion of its medical center. But the clinic says it needs public support for the project. Economist Scott Anderson says Mayo already is a market leader and he questions its need for taxpayer support.
TEACHER TESTING: Teachers and school administrators across Minnesota are asking lawmakers to rethink a law they passed last year that was aimed at producing higher-quality teachers. The law requires teacher candidates to pass what's called a 'basic skills exam' before they can get a teacher's license. But now schools are worried they might lose both recruits and current teachers because they haven't passed. Another source of tension is that results show teachers of color fail the test at a higher rate than white teachers.
MOOC MOVEMENT: Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are a growing trend in higher education. Top universities such as Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are offering college-level courses that anyone, and tens of thousands of people are signing up. Now, MOOCs will be offered by the University of Minnesota this spring.
WANT TO SUPERSIZE THAT? On an average day, U.S. adults get roughly 11 percent of their calories from fast food, a government study shows. That's down slightly from the 13 percent reported the last time the government tried to pin down how much of the American diet is coming from fast food. Eating fast food too frequently has been seen as a driver of America's obesity problem.
BARS THAT LEAD BETTING FOR VIKINGS STADIUM: One little bar right may be doing more to build a new Vikings stadium than just about any place else in Minnesota right now. It's Porky's on Payne Avenue in St. Paul. There's just 40 seats, four iPads and a pair of iPod Touch games in there, but it's leading the pack for electronic pulltab betting so far in February. Which are the other nine bars leading the betting for building the Vikings stadium? Click here to find out.
BIRDCHICK: The last time we talked to National Park Ranger and bird expert Sharon Stiteler, she told us that winter can be a pretty interesting time for birdwatchers. Well, it turns out this winter has seen a couple of bird developments in our region. She took a moment from her duties at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area to join All Things Considered host Tom Crann .
BUILDING BRIDGES: Minnesota is about 6,000 miles from China, but a 93-year-old Chinese scholar has made the state his home. In the process, he's become one of the University of Minnesota's oldest and most loyal alums and played a supporting role with a new wave of Chinese students flocking to the state. Yong Jiang was a student in China 66 years ago when he opted to attend graduate school at the U, based on word of mouth from a friend. After returning home to begin a career and marriage, he returned to Minnesota and is now a crucial bridge for Chinese students studying here.
COMMENTARY: Contributor Lisa Kruse-Robles writes, "It's taken me almost a year to write this last installment to my series of commentaries about being the family of a deployed soldier. I look back on those writings now and can see the steady decline of self throughout. I have a feeling that some people will look on this installment and find my words deplorable. Others may find hope and strength. I hope for the latter. Alcoholism is sneaky..."
FEELING LUCKY? It was a short lifespan for an extension of County Road H in Bayfield, Wisconsin yesterday. The Ice Road, connecting Bayfield with Madeline Island on Lake Superior, opened to light trucks and cars yesterday. But overnight, cracks in the road developed and officials have closed it while trying to fill low spots. Back in the day - check out this video from 2008 -- the Ice Road was quite the tourist attraction.