- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014
Minnesota joins states raising minimum wage

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Tens of thousands of Minnesota workers have big raises coming their way, courtesy of a new minimum wage law that Gov. Mark Dayton signed Monday, which will take the state from one of the nation’s lowest rates to among the highest.

At a ceremony in the Capitol’s Rotunda, Dayton hailed the hourly jump of more than $3 spread over the next few years as providing “what’s fair” for hard work put in. He said he has been stunned by GOP resistance - it passed the Legislature with only Democratic votes - to increasing the guaranteed wage from $6.15 per hour now to $9.50 by 2016 and then tie it to inflation.

“We’re not giving people any ticket into the upper-middle class,” Dayton said. “We’re giving them hope.”

Minnesota goes from having one of the nation’s lowest minimums to among the highest. With federal wage legislation stuck in Congress, states are rushing to fill the void. California, Connecticut and Maryland have passed laws pushing their respective wages to $10 or more in coming years, and other states are going well above the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour. Not all Minnesota workers have qualified for the federal minimum, which is required if someone engages in an interstate transaction such as swiping a credit card at the cash register.

For large Minnesota employers, mandatory hourly pay will climb to $8 in August, $9 a year later and $9.50 in 2016. Smaller employers that have gross sales below $500,000 will also have to pay more, though their rate reaches only $7.75 per hour by 2016. There are also carve-outs for teen workers or those getting trained into new jobs.


Abuse task force recommends archdiocese changes

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - There have been serious shortcomings in how the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has handled allegations of sexual abuse by priests because too much decision-making power was given to one or two people who weren’t subject to adequate oversight, a task force commissioned by the archdiocese reported Monday.

The task force recommended forming a single clergy-review board with a majority of laypeople to review all allegations of clergy misconduct. It said a lay person should be hired to take charge of all issues related to clergy sexual abuse and to report allegations to police. And it called for a comprehensive auditing and monitoring program to ensure that efforts to provide a safe environment are effective.

Archbishop John Nienstedt has pledged to accept the recommendations, the archdiocese said in a statement. The Rev. Reginald Whitt, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas who named the seven-member task force last October, will oversee the implementation of the 53-page report, the statement said.

The report drew an immediate rebuke from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which said the task force wasn’t really independent. The group predicted nothing would change.

“It’s laughable that this panel blames ‘outdated systems’ for deliberate decisions by dozens of Catholic officials. As long as we act like these are ‘mistakes’ and not intentional, self-serving choices by smart but selfish men, kids will continue being hurt and crimes will continue being concealed,” SNAP’s outreach director, Barbara Dorris, said in a statement.


Seeking re-election, Dayton has $733K at the ready

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s re-election campaign is off to a measured fundraising pace for the year, taking in about $189,000 from January through March.

The tally announced Monday left him with $733,000 as of April 1. Candidates for office have until Tuesday to submit quarterly fundraising reports.

Of Dayton’s Republican challengers, only businessman Scott Honour released his totals sooner. Honour says he took in about $200,000 and made a personal contribution of another $50,000. He didn’t provide his available cash figure.

Dayton has made personal loans to his political campaigns before, but he hasn’t said if he will go that route this time. In 2010, Dayton loaned his campaign about $3.9 million.

Candidates for state office are restricted from taking lobbyist and political action committee money during legislative sessions.


Jury selection begins in Minnesota homeowner trial

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (AP) - Jury selection is underway in the trial of a central Minnesota man who claims self-defense when he fatally shot two teenagers in his home.

Five jurors were chosen Monday on the first day of the murder trial of 65-year-old Byron Smith of Little Falls. He faces two counts of premeditated first-degree murder for the 2012 killings of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer.

The St. Cloud Times reports 130 Morrison County residents received jury duty notices for the trial. Prospective jurors will fill out a questionnaire that asks them about their thoughts on gun control.

Smith claims he was defending himself when he shot the teens after they entered his home. But authorities say he went too far, shooting them multiple times after they were no longer a threat.


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