- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Dayton splits with health commissioner on e-cigs

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - After Gov. Mark Dayton publicly broke with his Health Department commissioner over the extent of regulation needed on electronic cigarettes, lawmakers took a step Wednesday toward removing a proposed ban on indoor use in public places.

To the dismay of some public health advocates, Dayton came out against legislative efforts to lump e-cigarettes in with conventional cigarettes by barring their use in public buildings and most businesses. His comments directly contradict Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger’s testimony at a Senate committee meeting Monday.

“After we came down pretty hard on smokers last session, that’s probably enough for this biennium,” Dayton told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, referring to tobacco tax increases last year. “We did enough to smokers last session.”

Dayton said he would sign a bill to restrict children’s ability to buy e-cigarettes and to keep the product out of schools, but he would likely oppose making them subject to the indoor air law.

A bill that would have done both was awaiting a Senate vote, but it was pulled back to the committee stage where the parts Dayton objected to could be stripped. Sen. Jim Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, said it made sense to “capitulate a little bit to the governor’s wishes and keep the e-cigarette bill alive.”

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Restaurant hack leads to credit card fraud

FAIRMONT, Minn. (AP) - Fairmont police have received hundreds of reports of credit and debit card fraud since a local restaurant’s computer was hacked.

Since early last week, police in the southern Minnesota town have received more than 200 reports of credit and debit cards being used to make fraudulent purchases in at least 13 states, including Texas, Arizona and New York.

Police say all the cards have been linked to a Fairmont restaurant, El Agave. Officials believe a point-of-sale hack took place at the restaurant.

Authorities say the restaurant was unaware of the hack and is cooperating with the investigation. Police say there is no evidence that any restaurant employees took part in the hack.

KTOE-AM (http://bit.ly/1dOo7Gs) reports the U.S. Secret Service has joined local authorities in the investigation.

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Snowy owl injured in DC now in rehab in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A rare snowy owl whose plight drew national attention after it was apparently hit by a bus in the nation’s capital is now in rehab in Minnesota.

The injured owl was found in downtown Washington in late January and taken to the National Zoo before being transferred to a Washington, D.C., wildlife rehabilitation center.

Now it’s at The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, which has expertise in replacing damaged feathers.

The Raptor Center says the owl’s prognosis for release is good. The bird will get a test flight next week, then begin an exercise program to strengthen its muscles sufficiently so it can be set free.

Snowy owls are native to the Arctic but were seen all along the East Coast this winter, as far south as Florida.

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Minnesota ‘EagleCam’ shows newly hatched eaglet

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - There is a new addition to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ eagle camera - an eaglet.

The nesting pair of bald eagles featured live on the Internet hatched an eaglet on Tuesday. The new bird was in full view on the “EagleCam” on Wednesday afternoon.

Last year, the eagles’ eggs failed to hatch because they were laid too early. The DNR says it typically takes about 35 days for the eggs to incubate.

This year, the DNR has observed the eagles adapting to one of the most extreme winters in recent memory to protect their eggs.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1gqYJeR) reports biologists say the camera is set up on the same nest it observed in 2013, likely observing the same birds.

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