Flu claims another teen; efforts underway to reduce sex trafficking; expecting Minn. tax increases?

Flu vaccine
Medical assistant Lim Ros administers a flu vaccine at Central Pediatrics in St. Paul, Minn., in a file photo from October 25, 2011.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel

Today on the MPR News Update, a ninth grader from suburban Minneapolis has died of the flu. DFLers in the Minnesota Legislature outline their priorities for the session, and the mayor of Duluth tries to raise awareness about sex trafficking in Minnesota.

ANOTHER DEATH FROM THE FLU: Carly Christensen, 14, will be remembered at a service this evening at Westwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park, She died Tuesday afternoon with her family at her side, due to influenza.

A ninth-grader at St. Louis Park Senior High, Christensen was otherwise healthy. She is the fifth person to die of influenza in Minnesota this flu season. A 17-year old boy from Texas died of flu complications at a St. Paul hospital on Dec. 30, after visiting relatives in the area.

Because of the surge in flu cases, more than a dozen hospitals in Minnesota are tightening visitor rules.

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LEGISLATURE IS BACK AT WORK: Democrats officially took charge of the Minnesota House and Senate this week during largely ceremonial floor sessions Tuesday that marked photo gallery capturing some of those moments.

HIGHER TAXES ON THE WAY? The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce holds its annual legislative session kickoff dinner tonight in St. Paul. With a DFL governor, Mark Dayton, and a DFL-controlled Legislature, business leaders are concerned that state taxes will be increased as part of the next state budget. But some members of the business community appear to be softening their hardline stance against tax increases.

IMMIGRATION ARRESTS AT MINNESOTA EGG FARM: Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 10 people Tuesday at a Sparboe Farms facility in Litchfield, Minn. The agents were conducting a criminal investigation, but the arrests were based on "administrative charges," according to a spokesman. Immigration violations often fall into that category. Sparboe Farms is one of the largest egg producers in the U.S.

TCF BANK CLOSES IRANIAN STUDENT ACCOUNTS: Some Iranian students at the University of Minnesota say TCF Bank has tried to discriminate against them after getting notices that their bank accounts would be closed.

MILLE LACS BAND TO BUY TWO ST. PAUL HOTELS: The Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe announced Tuesday that it's poised to buy two St. Paul hotels, in part to diversify its business holdings. Sources familiar with the deal identified the hotels as the Crowne Plaza and the DoubleTree Hilton, which were put on the market last year.

EFFORTS UNDERWAY TO REDUCE SEX TRAFFICKING: Duluth Mayor Don Ness is declaring January as Trafficking Awareness Month. Advocates and law enforcement officials in Duluth are trying to increase awareness of the problem, and bring an end to the sex trafficking of girls.

On a similar front, police are enlisting the help of hotels in the fight against sex trafficking.

THEATER REBOUNDS BY SCALING WAY BACK: The Southern Theater in Minneapolis is emerging from a financial crisis that nearly killed it in 2011. The Southern survived by stripping down to one staff person and becoming a rental facility for local arts groups.