- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2014
Snow makes Minnesota travel conditions treacherous

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The snow globe has stopped in Minnesota, leaving more than a foot of snow in some places for residents to dig out before the below-zero temperatures move in next week.

Friday’s daytime low dropped to 7 degrees, making this winter the 11th coldest winter on record, National Weather Service chief meteorologist Dan Luna in Chanhassen said. The average temperature has been 10.3 degrees.

“Much of the population of this state has never seen a winter this cold,” he said, and temperatures overnight Friday into Saturday will hover around zero. By Wednesday, the low will drop to about 15 below.

While the official snow total in the Twin Cities was 9.9 inches, northeastern Minnesota saw far more. The National Weather Service reported 14.5 inches in Alborn, 13 inches in Twig and 11 inches in Proctor.

The 55.5 inches total accumulation so far this year in the Twin Cities is 16.2 inches above normal, Luna said.

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Environmental projects make the legislative agenda

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - When it comes to the outdoors and the environment in Minnesota, the 2014 legislative session is going to be about money for projects.

The big borrowing bill for public works projects will be the top item on lawmakers’ agenda during the short session that convenes Tuesday. It’s expected to fund several projects affecting the environment - amid myriad others - and such measures are typically subject to much debate and horse-trading. But two separate lists of other projects will also come up. One will draw on the Legacy Amendment sales tax, while the other will tap a trust fund supported by the state lottery.

Key lawmakers and lobbyists consider those three lists the top environmental and outdoor priorities for the session. Legislative leaders have already signaled reluctance to consider tighter restrictions on copper-nickel mining or mandatory deposits for beverage containers. Some sort of game-and-fish bill may pass, although what it might include is uncertain. Other policy initiatives will have to compete for attention amid busy committee schedules and an adjournment target for mid-May.

“Things come up. It wouldn’t be a normal legislative session if they didn’t,” said Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, chairwoman of the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee, who’s seen as an environmentalist with a strong interest in water issues.

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed $986 million in state borrowing for a long list of construction projects. They include: $70.7 million for drinking water and wastewater projects; $54.6 million for natural resource projects, including parks and trails; $17 million in transit improvements; $12 million for upgrading aquatic invasive species, bee and other laboratories at the University of Minnesota; and $7.8 million for pollution control initiatives.

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Judge dismisses 3 driver’s license snooping cases

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed three cases in Minnesota involving hundreds of allegations of improper public-employee snooping into driver’s license data.

U.S. District Judge David Doty (DOH’-tee) ruled Friday that no federal law was violated and that driver information is not private.

In three similar orders, Doty said information on drivers’ licenses such as eye color, height, weight and address may be personal, but it’s not private. He dismissed all federal and state claims in the three lawsuits.

The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1hDhxJShttp://strib.mn/1hDhxJS ) reports the suits involved hundreds of lookups that could have cost cities and counties millions of dollars.

St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing calls the decision “a major victory for municipalities.”

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Caucus melee probe sent to St. Paul

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - St. Paul police are taking over a Minneapolis police investigation into a melee that broke out at a DFL party caucus earlier this month, the Minneapolis mayor’s office said Friday.

Mayor Betsy Hodges asked Police Chief Janee Harteau to transfer the investigation to avoid any perception of potential conflict of interest.

“Over the past few weeks, I have been disturbed by the allegations of violence and intimidation that happened at the Cedar-Riverside caucus,” Hodges said in a news release. “It is imperative to all that we make sure there is not an ounce of question about the impartiality of this investigation.”

At least one woman, Minneapolis City Council aide Ilhan Omar, was injured in the scuffle at the Brian Coyle Community Center on Feb. 4, Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/1dcoeLuhttp://bit.ly/1dcoeLu ) reported.

The caucus had drawn a capacity crowd because of a challenge to longtime DFL state Rep. Phyllis Kahn. Many showed up to support Minneapolis School Board member Mohamud Noor.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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