Forum News Service
The Forum Communications News Service is the premier news wire service covering the Upper Midwest, including the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In addition to breaking and enterprise news, we offer a wide variety of sports, features, business, agriculture, outdoors and opinion content. For more information about the services we offer or to discuss content subscriptions, please contact us.
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ST. PAUL -- The penalty for stealing copper from an electric substation or similar facility would be five years in prison under a bill that stalled in a Senate committee Thursday. While most Judiciary Committee members indicated general support, many said the legislation's language was too vague. The bill is expected to be rewritten and reconsidered. The violation would be a felony, an increase from current law.
ST. PAUL -- Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, has launched a statewide campaign to convince Gov. Mark Dayton and other Democrats to scrap the MNsure online health insurance sales site.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers are looking into legislation that would allow people to drive three-wheel vehicles without a motorcycle license. Minnesota's Polaris Industries is asking to allow drivers of three-wheel vehicles that are hybrids of motorcycles and cars to be able to use regular licenses, but a House committee modified that idea.
ST. PAUL -- A $500 million program to improve Minnesota's science, technology and cutting-edge manufacturing is being proposed by state Rep. Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis. The Innovation, Research and Development Fund would focus on significantly expanding Minnesota’s research and development capacity, Thissen said, by training the next generation of Minnesota innovators.
ST. PAUL -- Mental health groups and legislators from both major parties are pushing for Minnesota leaders to increase mental health spending $8.5 million for the next three years. The money would be used to improve community-based mental health and addiction services. Supporters include the Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs and the Minnesota Hospital Association.
ST. PAUL -- Legislation to remove tax from ambulance services is making its way through the Minnesota House. A 2 percent health-care provider tax has been charged for ambulance runs, as well as doctor visits and other health-care related needs. Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, said ambulance services discovered they needed to pay as much as $100,000 in back taxes.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Senate Republicans say their 2016 priorities are tax cuts and a long-term transportation plan. "We can’t let another session go by without passing a long-term transportation plan and significant tax relief and reform," Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said Thursday. "Our plan focuses on ideas that will actually work to build roads and bridges, let Minnesotans keep more of the money they earn and lower their healthcare costs."
ST. PAUL -- Owners of wineries on Minnesota farms are asking lawmakers give them a tax break like other alcohol makers receive. Legislation by Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, would provide excise tax credits for wine and cider makers that produce up to 75,000 gallons a year. No farm winery reaches that level.
LITCHFIELD, Minn. — A Litchfield woman accused of financially exploiting nearly $220,000 from her elderly mother, a vulnerable adult, entered a plea agreement Wednesday in Meeker County District Court. Ann Marie Zillmer, 56, asserted an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit to the crime but acknowledges there is enough evidence to lead a jury to convict. It is recorded as a guilty plea.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota job vacancies were up 8.1 percent from a year ago to 96,000 from and were the most for a fourth quarter since the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development began tracking job vacancies in 2001, according to report released Thursday. The record for quarterly vacancies was 115,072 in the second quarter of 2001.