- Associated Press - Thursday, March 13, 2014
Minn. House votes to kick in school lunch money

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota House on Thursday voted unanimously to guarantee children don’t get denied a school lunch for lack of money.

The bill, which passed 130-0, gained traction amid reports that some districts either denied lunches to kids who couldn’t afford them or gave them a lesser meal than their peers. Under the bill, the state would spend $3.5 million a year to shore up the lunch program.

Rep. Yvonne Selcer, DFL-Minnetonka, said a strong vote on her bill should “make the statement that no child shall go hungry in a Minnesota school because of the inability to pay.”

If it becomes law, she said, “no child shall go through any shame, worry or embarrassment as they make their way through the lunch line at school.”

Selcer said it would provide for up to 61,500 students.


4 die at Minn. veterans home after virus outbreak

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A veterans’ home in Minneapolis has put new admissions on hold after a norovirus outbreak that may have been a factor in the deaths of four residents, a Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs spokeswoman said Thursday.

So far the virus has not been positively linked to the deaths at Minneapolis Veterans Home since March 7, department spokeswoman Anna Lewicki Long said Thursday. They all had other complications, she said.

At least one resident was hospitalized due to the virus, she said. About 20 employees have called in sick since March 7 with some sort of stomach virus, she said.

Long said samples have been sent to state health officials for testing. The virus is an annual issue in the wider community, particularly in nursing homes, hospitals and care facilities, she said.

Their other homes have not been hit, Long said.


EPA says PolyMet mine review shows improvements

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The latest environmental review for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine shows “extensive improvements” over the original but still needs work, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.

The federal agency rated the original 2009 document as “environmentally unsatisfactory - inadequate,” or “EU-3,” the lowest possible grade. On Thursday the EPA gave the update released in December a substantially better rating of “environmental concerns - insufficient information,” or “EC-2.” That’s just one notch below the best rating it realistically had a chance of getting, according to state and company officials.

“This rating demonstrates the significant improvements PolyMet has made to the project in response to previous public and regulatory comments,” PolyMet’s president and CEO, Jon Cherry, said in a statement.

Thursday marked the deadline for public comments on the nearly 2,200-page document, formally known as a supplemental draft environmental impact statement, or SDEIS. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will consider the EPA’s recommendations and comments from the public as it prepares the final version.

Leaders of several environmental groups denounced the review as incomplete despite its length, telling reporters that it fails to address crucial questions about how the mine near Babbitt and processing plant near Hoyt Lakes would affect the environment in northeastern Minnesota.


Dayton leaves options open on medical marijuana

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Medical marijuana supporters appealed personally to Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday to give a nudge to a stalled proposal, getting the Democrat’s assurance he would keep working toward a compromise on a measure he doesn’t yet support.

Their private meeting with him occurred soon after Dayton told reporters during a conference call that he was pessimistic a deal could be forged this session.

In the call, Dayton opened up about a personal tug of war between giving comfort to those in pain and his constitutional oath to watch out for broader public safety concerns. A bill legalizing medical marijuana stalled this week in the Legislature, and Dayton has said he won’t sign legislation police oppose.

“Nobody wants to be in a position of causing anybody undue suffering or standing in the way of anybody’s suffering being relieved,” Dayton said. “But you’re talking about making law and public policy for 5.3 million people. You have to weigh in the balance what the experts say are the gains for how many people and what they say are the likely losses for how many people.”

Dayton, who is recovering from a February hip surgery, invited 11 medical marijuana supporters into the Governor’s Residence to make their case. Between 50 and 75 of them had gathered outside the gates to deliver an oversized greeting card urging him to “stop bowing to law enforcement.” They emerged optimistic he would come around to support a proposal.



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