- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014
Bill ratifying state worker pacts on way to Dayton

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A bill endorsing a set of state employee contracts is bound for Gov. Mark Dayton.

The House voted 84-48 on Monday to ratify agreements negotiated last year. They apply to some 38,000 workers. The agreements covering several unions and managerial units include raises of three percent or more and shift some health costs to workers.

Supportive lawmakers argued they make up for years of mostly stagnant pay. Some employees could get even bigger bumps if they are beneath they aren’t at top scale for their position.

The vote was bipartisan, but some Republicans cast the deals as a giveaway to employee unions.

Final legislative ratification came on the eve of a Capitol rally by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5.


MNsure grants reprieve for late enrollment snags

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesotans who make a good faith effort to enroll for coverage through the state’s new health insurance exchange by the March 31 deadline will get a reprieve if they run into problems and cannot complete the process, officials said Monday.

MNsure chief Scott Leitz compared the situation to people who are still waiting in line when polls close on election day: They still get to vote. So those who are still “in line” when the enrollment deadline hits at 11:59 p.m. CDT on March 31 will still be able to get insurance coverage and avoid the tax penalty, he told reporters on a conference call.

Consumers can fill out an “enrollment attempt” form on the MNsure website or call the exchange’s call center to establish that they made a good faith but unsuccessful effort to sign up, said Katie Burns, policy and plan management director. But the exchange will accept other documentation, too, including having opened an account within the MNsure system; paper applications submitted to a government agency, navigator or broker records; call center records; emails sent to MNsure; and documents filed in appeals.

MNsure officials will then work with consumers and the insurance companies to resolve the holdups, Burns said.

Leitz said he did not know how many people might take advantage of the reprieve, but said they’re expected to include procrastinators who have not tried to sign up yet, as well as people who have tried but have not been able to complete the process due to technical glitches or other snags. MNsure’s trouble-plagued website is “functioning well” now, he said. The number of people whose applications remain stuck in the system is “relatively small” and MNsure officials are actively working with them, he said.


Effort underway to allow guns on Minnesota campus

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Concealed-carry advocates kicked off a campaign Monday to allow some students, faculty, staff and visitors to carry firearms at the University of Minnesota.

The “Allow Campus Carry” event opened with a midday petition drive and information handout in Coffman Union. The four-day campaign is scheduled to run through Thursday.

Members of the Minnesota College Republicans, Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, Young Americans for Liberty and the Minnesota Republic newspaper are advocating allowing people 21 and older who are legally permitted to carry weapons to do so on campus. They were joined at the information table Monday by 2014 Miss Minneapolis Julia Schliesing, who has advocated firearms training as a self-protection measure for women.

Susan Eckstein, president of College Republicans at the university, said lifting the ban on legally authorized personal weapons would help those on campus feel safer.

“The people who would have guns are not the ones who could cause problems,” Eckstein said.


Police: Man shot adult son before standoff

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (AP) - Maplewood police say an 84-year-old man shot and killed his adult son, leading to a standoff in their home.

The standoff ended Monday after police forced their way into the home. Inside, police found the 36-year-old son dead from gunshot wounds and his father critically injured from self-inflicted stab wounds.

Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell says the two had been arguing when the father grabbed a long gun and shot the son. The father then barricaded himself in a bedroom.

A SWAT team responded about noon and got other family members out. Officers spent two hours trying to contact the father.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/1jnPdMChttps://bit.ly/1jnPdMC ) reports officers finally entered the home. The son was pronounced dead and the father was taken to Regions Hospital with critical injuries.

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