- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Measles case confirmed on University of Minnesota campus

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The University of Minnesota says a case of measles has been confirmed in a student on the Twin Cities campus.

The university said Wednesday the student had recently returned from international travel, and is now isolated off campus while recovering.

Before being diagnosed, the student attended classes from Jan. 20 through 23 on the East Bank, and had visited the University Recreation and Wellness Center on the evening of Jan. 20.

University students, faculty and staff who have been immunized against measles are not at risk. The school says the university population is highly immunized due to enrollment requirements. But faculty or staff members who have not been vaccinated for the infectious disease should contact their health care provider.


Budget details: More fines for texting drivers, park fees up

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Getting caught texting while driving could carry a steeper fine. Entrance fees at Minnesota state parks would rise slightly to pay for upkeep. Meat, poultry, canning and other food-production plants would be more likely to come under inspection thanks to beefed-up budgets.

Small but notable changes like these are sprinkled throughout Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed two-year budget. Those recommendations won’t get as much attention from lawmakers as his centerpiece plans for increased school aid and for expanded child-care tax credits, but history suggests they’re more likely to get legislative signoff.

The 2,954 pages that make up Dayton’s budget are a trove of details about how agencies operate, where they’re struggling and what managers say would improve services or public safety.

Take the texting clause. The Department of Public Safety wants to double the current $50 fine in cases of repeat offenders. Minnesota outlawed texting and other Internet activities behind the wheel five years ago, and state officials estimate the number of citations is climbing 20 percent a year. In 2013, the most recent figures available, there were 1,739 tickets written.

Donna Berger, director of the Office of Traffic Safety, worries the message about texting dangers isn’t getting through to drivers and says a higher fine could act as a deterrent.


Lawmakers advance bills curbing online lottery sales

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Legislation reeling in the Minnesota Lottery’s spread into sales of tickets through gas pumps, ATMs and its Internet site is again on the move.

A House committee advanced a pair of bills Wednesday that would suspend the electronic offerings. It’s similar to a push last year that ended with overwhelming votes in favor but a veto from Gov. Mark Dayton.

Lawmakers have voiced concern over making gambling too convenient and outrage over the lottery’s decision to introduce new platforms without their consent.

Lottery Director Ed Van Petten says he’s open to a compromise that requires future expansions to win legislative backings first. But he says suspending online sales of drawing tickets and instant-win games would threaten the lottery’s viability and ultimately mean less money for the state and environmental programs.


Security Hospital seeks $10.4M in emergency funding

ST. PETER, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota lawmaker says the state’s largest psychiatric hospital will soon run out of money without an emergency infusion.

Sen. Kathy Sheran said Tuesday the cost overruns at the Minnesota Security Hospital stem from new staff and safety requirements. The St. Peter hospital, which houses patients who are committed for being dangerous or mentally ill, is operating on a conditional license because of previous findings of maltreatment.

Lawmakers have proposed stepping in with $10.4 million for the facility. KTOE-TV first reported the hospital’s looming budget woes.

Sheran, a Mankato Democrat, says the hospital will have to lay off staff if the Legislature doesn’t act quickly.

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