- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014
Widow remembers 2009 Fort Hood shootings

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A woman who lost her husband in the 2009 Fort Hood shootings says she can empathize with the families of the three killed.

Shoua Her’s husband, Private First Class Kham Xiong (SHONG), was among 13 killed at the Texas military base in November 2009.

Her lives in North St. Paul and tells KSTP-TV (http://bit.ly/1hlAH05http://bit.ly/1hlAH05 ) the military isn’t doing its job to increase security on base. She also says war veterans may need more mental health help.

Authorities say the soldier who killed three people Wednesday, Spc. Ivan Lopez, may have argued with another service member before the attack, and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed. Lopez later shot himself in the head.

Last fall, military jurors sentenced Maj. Nidal Hasan to death for the 2009 shootings.

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MNsure chief testifies before congressional panel

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - MNsure’s interim CEO says Minnesota’s online health insurance exchange is stable, secure and successful.

According to an advance copy of his testimony before a congressional panel Thursday, Scott Leitz says it’s not news that MNsure’s rollout was rocky last October. But he says he took immediate action after he became interim CEO in December. He says software problems have been resolved and call center wait times came way down by the time open enrollment closed Monday.

Leitz also says MNsure is in the process of selecting a lead vendor to further address its software problems with the goal of making future open enrollment periods a better experience for consumers.

The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee asked representatives from several state-run exchanges that have faced start-up troubles to testify.

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Minnesota Senate passes anti-bullying bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A plan aimed at helping prevent bullying in schools was narrowly approved by the Minnesota Senate on Thursday, with supporters saying it would give educators better tools to help students.

The bill would require school districts to track and investigate cases of bullying and require schools to better train staff and teachers on how to prevent it. If the legislation becomes law, it would replace a statute that requires school districts to have a bullying policy but lacks any details on what the policy should contain.

Advocates say the state’s current anti-bullying law, at 37 words long, is one of the weakest in the nation.

After nearly six hours of debate, the Senate passed the bill 36-to-31. It now goes to the House, which passed a similar measure last year.

Bill supporters say the current law creates a patchwork of policies across the state and has failed to protect students.

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Minnesota’s foreclosure crisis eases

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota’s foreclosure crisis is easing after eight long years.

House prices are rising and the number of foreclosures is falling. And the latest sign is that the number of Twin Cities homes lost to foreclosure fell by nearly half in January compared with a year ago, according to the research firm CoreLogic, the Star Tribune reported Thursday (http://strib.mn/1lqJW4mhttp://strib.mn/1lqJW4m ).

The crisis peaked statewide in 2008 when there were 26,000 foreclosures, compared with just 6,000 in 2005. Last year, there were about 11,800 foreclosures across Minnesota.

“We saw an incredible drop,” said Julie Gugin, executive director of the Minnesota Homeownership Center, which provides financial counseling across the state. “We’re definitely heading in the right direction.”

But it’s difficult to say when foreclosures will recede all the way to their pre-crisis lows. Many families earn less than they did five years ago, and thousands of homeowners will never regain the equity they lost when house prices crashed. And there are still broad swaths of the state where thousands of homeowners are struggling.

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