- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Dayton details child care tax credit he’ll have in budget

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Flanked by families, Gov. Mark Dayton proposed Tuesday expanding a child and dependent care tax credit to 92,000 more Minnesota families who could see hundreds of dollars in savings per year.

The Democratic governor previewed what he’s calling a priority piece of his upcoming budget proposal that will be released in full next week. The amped-up credit would cost Minnesota’s treasury $100 million over two years - and rise in years to come - and is among a slew of tax-cut plans cropping up in the Legislature, given the state’s $1 billion surplus.

As Dayton rolled out his proposal, the House Tax Committee was debating a bill to reduce income tax rates for thousands of business owners. He drew a contrast between the approaches.

“That’s directed toward businesses, which are increasingly profitable,” he said. “Mine’s directed toward families, who are increasingly hard-pressed by the economics of child care.”

Michelle Steffan said her family is one of them. The mother of a three-year-old and an infant, Steffan said she and husband decided it made financial sense for her to stay home after the birth of their second son because her pay as a part-time physical therapist wasn’t enough to cover the added child care expenses.

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Ex-Gophers quarterback reaches plea deal in assault case

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - Former Minnesota Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from a fight that left another former football player with a serious brain injury, his attorney said Tuesday.

Nelson had been charged with two felonies relating to the May 11 fight with former Minnesota State, Mankato, linebacker Isaac Kolstad. But Nelson will now enter a guilty plea to fifth-degree assault, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 90 days, his attorney James Fleming said. No date has been scheduled for the plea hearing.

Fleming said three doctors had reported a “lack of medical certainty” as to whether Nelson’s kick caused Kolstad’s critical brain injury, so Fleming filed a motion for dismissal of the charges. Instead, a plea agreement was reached and the two felony assault charges will be dismissed, Fleming said.

A forensic pathologist hired by the defense said an initial punch allegedly thrown by another defendant most likely caused Kolstad’s injuries.

Witnesses told investigators that Nelson shoved Kolstad, a 2013 graduate, after mistaking him for a bouncer who had kissed his girlfriend. Kolstad knocked Nelson to the ground, but as he walked away, a third man punched Kolstad in the head. Surveillance video shows Kolstad dropping to the ground and his head smacking the pavement. Nelson then kicked Kolstad in the head.

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New evidence delays trial of man accused of killing officer

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - Opening statements in the trial of a man accused of killing a Mendota Heights police officer have been delayed until Thursday, after prosecutors said they have new evidence that Brian Fitch Sr. admitted to the shooting.

Fitch’s trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday morning in Stearns County. Opening statements were initially delayed by a few hours when a female juror was released after expressing safety concerns.

But the Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/1zuJQT9http://strib.mn/1zuJQT9 ) that the trial was ultimately pushed to Thursday after prosecutors said they had new evidence that Fitch told another inmate he killed Officer Scott Patrick during a July traffic stop in West St. Paul.

Prosecutor Phillip Prokopowicz said Fitch admitted to the inmate that he had drugs in his car and “had no choice” but to shoot Patrick. Defense attorney Lauri Traub says she learned of the new evidence Monday and needs time to interview the inmate who allegedly heard the confession.

Dakota County District Court Judge Mary Theisen said she won’t exclude the alleged confession, and she gave both sides more time to investigate it.

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Reno to rededicate memorial to victims of 1985 plane crash

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The lone survivor of a 1985 Reno airplane crash that killed 70 people who were returning from a Super Bowl junket says he can’t bring himself to attend a memorial on the 30th anniversary of the disaster.

George Lamson Jr. was 17 when Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 crashed in a field in south Reno on Jan. 21, 1985. Rescuers responding to the fiery wreckage found him strapped in his seat on a street.

“I don’t want to be remembered as the boy who survived this accident. I want to be remembered as the man that lived,” Lamson, 47, told the Reno Gazette-Journal this week (http://tinyurl.com/o9ph48fhttp://tinyurl.com/o9ph48f ).

Washoe County officials plan to unveil a new memorial plaque on Wednesday after the original was stolen two years ago near the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Lamson, who lives in Reno, said it’s too difficult for him to be there for the ceremony. But he said he recently visited the new memorial and was pleased with the plaque, which is embedded in a granite boulder and surrounded by pine trees that were planted in memory of the plane’s passengers and crew.

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