The marriage amendment battle moves to the State Fair

Marriage amendment rally
Chris Kliesen Wehrman of Prospect Park United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, Minn. and Pamela Cook of United Church of Christ in New Brighton, Minn. join more than 100 other clergy members to rally in opposition of the proposed marriage amendment outside the Minnesota State Fair front gate in Falcon Heights, Minn. Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Lawmakers are meeting in Saint Paul today for a special session to consider a $167 million package of aid to communities in Northern Minnesota hit by storms and flooding earlier this summer. Mitt Romney raised money in a sprint through the western Minneapolis suburbs yesterday and declared that big businesses in the U.S. are "doing fine." And over at the State Fair, supporters and opponents of the marriage amendment are vying for attention and votes.

Special session convenes
This afternoon the state legislature will consider a $167.5 million relief package for Duluth and other towns ravaged by summer floods and storms. The bulk of the funding would go to northeast Minnesota, where massive June flooding tore apart roads and submerged basements -- and where two months later some homeowners are still stuck in limbo.

Romney, in Minnesota, says big business is "doing fine"
Creating a potential headache for his campaign, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said during a fundraising stop in Minnetonka Beach that big businesses in the U.S. were "doing fine" in part because they get advantages from offshore tax havens. His comments echoed similar assertions about the state of big business by President Barack Obama which Romney has criticized.

GOP supporters contribute to $875K to campaign coffers
While he was here, Romney raised at least $875,000. Roughly 350 people gave between $2,500 and $10,000 to attend his fundraiser at the Lafayette Country Club in Minnetonka Beach. Couples who contributed $50,000 attended a private dinner at the Shorewood home of Cambria CEO Marty Davis.

Mining data for donors
And The Associated Press is reporting today that Mitt Romney's success in raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the costliest presidential race ever can be traced in part to a secretive data-mining project that sifts through Americans' personal information to identify new and likely, wealthy donors.

Hoteliers join fight against sex trafficking
Pimps go online to sites like to advertise young girls for sex. But the classified ads are simply where the sex-trafficking transaction begins. Local hotels, especially those in the suburbs, are where the sex typically takes place. In Ramsey County, law enforcement officials are taking the unique step of training hotel employees to spot signs of trafficking at their places of businesses.

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Marriage amendment battle moves to the State Fair
One of the biggest questions on this year's ballot is a constitutional amendment that would effectively ban same-sex marriage -- an issue that has those on both sides of the debate squaring off down the street from one another at the Minnesota State Fair.

House expulsion for Gauthier?
There are serious discussions underway among Republican legislators to take up a motion to expel Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth during today's special session. Gauthier said earlier this week that he would not run for re-election after it became public that he engaged in sexual activity with a 17-year-old boy at a public rest stop near Duluth.

Accused stabber wanted to 'hurt some cops'
The Hennepin County Attorney's office has filed attempted murder charges against a man who allegedly attacked two Minneapolis Park Police officers earlier this week. According to the charges, 38-year-old Marsenior Johnson lured officers Katherine Hammes and James Huber to Minnehaha Creek with what turned out to be a phony robbery call in order to assault them.

Summer assessments now for K-5
As Minnesota students settle into their new classrooms in the coming weeks, teachers will begin to assess their reading and writing skills, something teachers have done during those first few weeks of school for years. But now a few Minnesota districts are assessing their elementary students before school begins, in hopes of getting a head start on the year.

State's military contractors in limbo
Minnesota businesses that supply goods or services to the U.S. Department of Defense are preparing for the fallout of massive federal budget cuts set to occur early next year if Congress does not agree on a plan to cut the federal deficit.

The St. Croix Crossing moves forward
The Oak Park Heights City Council Thursday evening voted to clear the way for a new bridge over the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The 4-1 vote caps months of talks between MnDOT and Oak Park Heights over how the city would pay for utility work.

New carrier for St. Cloud
Allegiant Air announced Thursday it will begin regular flights between St. Cloud's Regional Airport and the Phoenix area. The announcement brings air service back to a community that's been without it for nearly three years. Officials in St. Cloud have been trying to lure a new airline to the community since Delta Airlines discontinued flights to Minneapolis in December 2009.

Alzheimer's drug shows promise
A possible Alzheimer's disease treatment from drugmaker Eli Lilly showed some promise in late-stage research, even though the drug failed to slow a form of mental decline in two separate studies of patients with the mind-robbing condition.

USADA strips 7 Tour titles from Lance Armstrong
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped Lance Armstrong's seven Tour de France titles Friday, erasing one of the most incredible achievements in sports after deciding he had used performance-enhancing drugs to do it. Armstrong, who retired a year ago, was also hit with a lifetime ban from cycling.