Today on the MPR News Update: The Minnesota Senate OKs legislation that would create a health insurance exchange website, advocates for Indian women cheer the Violence Against Women Act, the governor backs off part of his tax overhaul plan, same-sex marriage opponents rally to oppose a bill that keeps moving through the Capitol ... and more.
HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE BILL ADVANCES: After a marathon debate that stretched long into the night, the Minnesota Senate on Thursday night passed legislation creating an online health insurance marketplace that's slated to be up and running by October. A legislative conference committee will meet in coming days to resolve differences between the Senate and House bills enacting a cornerstone of the federal health care overhaul. The House passed its version of the bill earlier this week.
BILL ALLOWING LARGER POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS PASSES HOUSE COMMITTEE: Increasing the campaign contribution limits will help candidates compete with outside groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley said.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT REAUTHORIZATION HAILED IN INDIAN COUNTRY: Minnesota advocates for Indian woman are hailing today's reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. For years, the law has supported domestic violence prevention programs aimed curbing things like sexual assault. It has also funded shelters and training for law enforcement. But until now, the law did not cover many cases involving American Indian women.
MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA'S EXPENDITURES: Amid the ongoing lockout of orchestra musicians, 100 lawmakers released a letter today calling for a legislative audit of the orchestra's finances. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles said he will take the request under advisement and likely decide within two weeks whether to go forward with an investigation.
VOTER FRAUD PROSECUTION OF WOMAN, 86, RAISES QUESTIONS: An 86-year-old St. Peter woman with Parkinson's disease and some dementia is facing charges of voter fraud, raising a number of questions. MPR News asks Secretary of State Mark Ritchie for answers.
FOR SOME CITY DWELLERS, RACE SHAPES DEFINITION OF 'URBAN': The word "urban" has come to mean different things to different people. In many cases, its connotation changes based on the racial makeup of the community in which it's being used.
'JOHN DIES': Paul Giamatti is known for his portrayals of troubled middle-aged guys, from his breakout role as a vacationing wine snob in "Sideways," through his Emmy award winning portrayal of President John Adams. Now he's trying his hand at horror in a movie opening this weekend in Minnesota. And not just any horror -- he's working with cult director Don Coscarelli.
LOUISE ERDRICH TALKS ABOUT 'THE ROUNDHOUSE': Minnesota author Louise Erdrich speaks at Concordia University in St. Paul about her National Book Award-winning book, "The Roundhouse," and her love of writing.
UNEMPLOYMENT HITS 4-YEAR LOW: U.S. employers ramped up hiring in February, adding 236,000 jobs and pushing the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January. Stronger hiring shows businesses are confident about the economy, despite higher taxes and government spending cuts.
US HOUSEHOLD WEALTH REGAINS PRE-RECESSION PEAK: Surging stock prices and steady home-price increases have finally allowed Americans to regain the $16 trillion in wealth they lost to the Great Recession.
17 OF 18 TOP US BANKS HAVE STRENGTHENED: All but one of the nation's 18 largest banks are more prepared to withstand a severe U.S. recession and a global downturn than at any time since the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve says.
DAYTON ABANDONS BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS TAX: Signaling a major shift in his budget and tax proposals, Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday there won't be a sales tax on business or consumer services in the revised budget plan he'll release next week. "I'm not just getting an ear-full of opposition, I'm getting a TCF Stadium-full of opposition," Dayton told a west metro chamber of commerce breakfast. "I'm coming out next week with my revised budget based on the better revenue forecast and the (business-to-business taxes) will not be in it, so you can all rest assured there."
SEQUESTERED FEDERAL JOB CUTS: It's been almost a week since the across-the-board federal budget cuts started going into effect. Many of the more than 21,000 federal employees who live and work in Minnesota are starting to get furlough notices. Some are putting off big purchases and travel in expectation of losing as much as a month of pay between now and September.
BUCKLIN BOYS' MOM SUES OVER PLANE CRASH: The mother of three Minnesota boys who died with their father in a 2010 plane wreck in western Wyoming is suing a company that provides air traffic control services at the Jackson Hole Airport. Michelle Bucklin sued Virginia-based Serco, Inc., in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne this week claiming an air traffic controller's negligence caused the crash. She brought the suit as personal representative of the estates of her three sons who died in the crash.
GLOBAL WARMING SPIKE: A new study looking at 11,000 years of climate temperatures shows the world in the middle of a dramatic U-turn, lurching from near-record cooling to a heat spike. Research released Thursday in the journal Scienceuses fossils of tiny marine organisms to reconstruct global temperatures back to the end of the last ice age. It shows how the globe for several thousands of years was cooling until an unprecedented reversal in the 20th century.
TEEN FOUND DEAD IN TOWED CAR WAS ESCORT: A man arrested in the death of an 18-year-old Minnesota woman he had apparently hired as a prostitute through an online ad before killing her also is wanted for three attacks on escorts in Georgia, authorities said Thursday. The 23-year-old man was in custody Thursday in Anoka County on suspicion of the murder of Brittany Clardy, of St. Paul, and is expected to be formally charged Friday.
MINNESOTA SECURITY HOSPITAL LAWSUIT: A former state psychiatrist has filed a lawsuit accusing the Minnesota Department of Human Services and two officials of defaming his reputation and violating the state's data privacy law. The lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County by psychiatrist Michael Harlow, claims the Department of Human Services, the department's deputy commissioner Anne Barry and former Minnesota Security Hospital administrator David Proffitt defamed Harlow by criticizing his handling of a violent incident involving a patient in statements to MPR News last year.
FRACKING EXPLAINER: A wide swath of the Northeast could become one of the world's most productive gas drilling regions in the world as companies use hydraulic fracturing to free previously unreachable resources. This interactive offers a useful guide to the ongoing story.
BOSTON SCIENTIFIC ISSUES ALERT REGARDING DEFIBRILLATOR: The issue is with the company's S-ICD devices. Unlike typical implantable defibrillators, these devices don't use a wire to deliver a therapeutic electric jolt to a patient's heart.
HOMELESS YOUTH FIND REFUGE AT SAFE HOUSE IN ST. PAUL: From the outside, Safe House is just a non-descript home in a residential neighborhood in St. Paul. On the inside though, what is accomplished goes beyond four walls. The house has served as a landing spot for young homeless people for more than 20 years and could gain from a bill moving through the state Legislature. The Homeless Youth Act passed out of the Health and Human Services Finance Committee in the Minnesota House Thursday.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE HAS VOTES TO CLEAR MINN. HOUSE PANEL: Nine of the 17 members of the House Civil Law Committee told The Associated Press that they would be voting for the legislation that repeals the state law defining marriage as between opposite-sex couples only. That would be enough votes for the bill to get through the committee so it could head to the full House. The news came as same-sex marriage opponents staged a rally at the state Capitol.