- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015
With new bump, Minnesota ushers in region’s top minimum wage

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota will vault past Illinois, Michigan and South Dakota this week to gain the highest minimum wage in the Midwestern region at $9 an hour, which also will rank among the most-generous state wage floors in the country.

The dollar-per-hour bump taking effect Saturday for some 288,000 of Minnesota’s lowest-paid workers is the second of a three-stage increase adopted in 2014, when the state had one of the lowest minimum wages in the region. Next August, the wage will rise again to $9.50 and it will go up automatically with inflation in following years.

For now, this step gives Minnesota the highest minimum wage of any state away from the east or west coasts. The next closest in the region are South Dakota’s $8.50, Illinois’ $8.25 and Michigan’s $8.15.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat who signed the new wage law last year, said Monday the higher wage is about “allowing people to earn a better living through their work. We’re not talking about handouts here. We’re talking about rewarding people who work with a better income, which makes them better citizens.”

Someone working full time at the minimum wage could earn $2,000 more per year, but Dayton said their overall income would still leave them too close to the federal poverty line.

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Appeals court upholds law in breath test refusal case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A law that makes it a crime for someone to refuse a breath test when arrested for drunken driving was affirmed Monday by the Minnesota Court of Appeals - but one judge signaled there could be an issue with the law as it relates to blood or urine tests.

Monday’s ruling comes in the case of David Bennett, who was arrested after he rear-ended another vehicle in New Brighton in 2013. A state trooper said Bennett showed signs of intoxication and a preliminary breath test showed Bennett had a blood-alcohol level at nearly twice the legal limit. He was arrested but refused to take a breath test at the jail after he was given the implied-consent advisory.

He was ultimately convicted of test refusal, and a drunken driving charge was dismissed.

Under Minnesota law, anyone who drives a vehicle consents to a chemical test of blood, breath or urine to determine if he or she has been drinking. A law enforcement officer may impose a test if the officer has probable cause to believe the person was driving drunk and has been arrested for that crime.

The law says if a person refuses to submit to a chemical test, it “must not be given.” The driver then faces a license revocation and a possible criminal charge of refusing to submit to chemical testing.

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GOP lawmakers call to arm more military members

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota Republican lawmakers announced a bill in the works on Monday to allow more active duty members of the military and National Guard to carry weapons, the latest of nationwide responses to a deadly shooting at military facilities in Tennessee.

The bill, expected to be introduced during next year’s legislative session, would allow members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Minnesota’s National Guard to carry a weapon without a permit. Law enforcement officers are already exempt from the state’s permitting process.

The GOP politicians also called on Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to follow the lead of several other states by issuing an executive order to arm the state’s national guard. After four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor were killed in Chattanooga earlier this month, Sen. Paul Gazelka said they’re necessary changes to better protect those serving the state and country.

“Men and women in uniform simply being attacked because they represent America and stand for America, should have the right and the ability to defend themselves,” said Gazelka, a Nisswa Republican.

In a statement, Dayton deferred to the head of Minnesota’s National Guard, Adjutant General Richard Nash, on “the appropriate measures to best protect the men and women of the Minnesota National Guard.”

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Puddle of Mudd singer Scantlin accused of DWI, fleeing

OLIVIA, Minn. (AP) - Puddle of Mudd singer Wes Scantlin faces charges of drunken driving and fleeing police after a chase in Minnesota that reached speeds of about 100 mph.

Scantlin appeared Monday in Renville County court on charges of felony fleeing police in a motor vehicle; refusing to submit to a chemical test; and DWI. He was released after posting bail.

The 43-year-old was caught early Sunday by a sheriff’s sergeant. A preliminary breath test measured his blood-alcohol content at 0.31 percent, nearly four times the legal limit for driving.

The Star Tribune in Minneapolis (https://strib.mn/1S9EKp4https://strib.mn/1S9EKp4 ) reports Scantlin was performing during the weekend in Royalton, about 100 miles north from where he was stopped.

His attorney, John Leunig (LOO’-nihg), declined to comment to The Associated Press on Monday.

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