- Associated Press - Friday, April 4, 2014
Wolves’ Cunningham accused of choking girlfriend

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota Timberwolves forward Dante Cunningham was charged Friday with assault after being accused of choking his girlfriend during an argument.

A criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court said his girlfriend told police they got into the argument early Thursday at his suburban Minneapolis home. The woman, who is not named in the complaint, told police he kicked down a locked bedroom door, grabbed her around the neck and slammed her against the wall, choking her for 15 to 20 seconds during which she could not breathe.

“Victim’s eyes were watering and she felt like she was being strangled to death,” the complaint alleges.

The woman told police he then dropped her, and she called 911.

According to the complaint, their relationship began last summer and they had been living together for eight months. Police said Thursday that she did not require medical treatment.


1 presumed dead after SUV runs into river

RAMSEY, Minn. (AP) - One man is missing and presumed dead after an SUV plunged into the Mississippi River in Ramsey.

Police say the Hummer went off a road, cut through a yard and came to rest about 175 yards from shore about 1:30 a.m. Friday.

A man fell off the roof into the river as rescuers launched a boat. A 42-year-old man was brought to shore. Police say he appeared to be intoxicated, was uncooperative and gave officers only vague answers to questions.

Police say the missing man, a 39-year-old from Ramsey, owned the Hummer.

Kelly Bochenski, who watched the incident play out, says it looked like the vehicle was purposely driven into the river.


House panel approves cheaper Senate building

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A House committee on Friday approved a planned Senate office building that would cost some $13 million less than an earlier design, despite Republican complaints of improper process.

The tweaked design shaves the cost from the original $90 million estimate by delaying one parking lot, making another user-financed and halving the number of conference rooms. It also would house all 67 senators, up from 44 in the earlier design.

The House Rules Committee advanced the project after 3½ hours of contentious debate. Democrats control the House and hold a majority on the committee, and the vote fell mostly along party lines 14-13.

The planned Senate building is part of a much broader $273 million project to renovate the Capitol. While the overall renovation has bipartisan support, Republicans have seized on the Senate building as a wasteful and unnecessary use of taxpayer money. Democrats have said the renovation will displace offices and hearing rooms for good and the space is necessary, but some, including Gov. Mark Dayton, have also said it should be scaled back.

During Friday’s debate, Republicans also accused Democrats of sidestepping standard legislative procedure to approve the building plan last year.


Minn. farm families could get property tax relief

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Most Minnesota farm families would get an extra $260 in property tax relief per year under legislation that’s meant to ease the squeeze they’re feeling between rising property taxes and falling crop prices.

The proposal would tap the state’s budget surplus for $18 million to help more than 90,000 homesteaded farms. It’s part of a larger property tax bill the Minnesota House was scheduled to debate Friday.

Farmland values have shot up in recent years across Minnesota and other states in response to high prices for corn and other crops. Because property taxes are based on the value of the land, they’ve shot up too. But lower corn prices in 2013 caused a 78 percent drop in Minnesota farm income last year, according to a report last week from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and University of Minnesota Extension. The report also predicted another down year for crop farmers in 2014.

While farm income has fallen, farmland valuations haven’t so far, said Rep. Jim Davnie, R-Minneapolis, chairman of the House property tax division and author of the bill.

“It’s a welcome relief,” said Thom Peterson, director of governmental relations for the Minnesota Farmers Union. Given that income is expected to fall while costs such as land rents and fertilizer remain high, he said, any break is helpful.

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