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ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans' health-care costs increased slower in 2013 than in most previous years, the Minnesota Health Department reports. Spending increased 3.1 percent in 2013, the latest year for which the department has figures, reaching $40.9 billion. That growth rate is the fourth-lowest recorded in Minnesota (2011 and 2010 both had growth rates of 1.7 percent).
ST. PAUL – Legislation to drop political designations from legislative candidates awaits its second Minnesota House committee hearing. Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, proposes the change to reduce partisanship. Sen. Roger Reinert, D-Duluth, authored the Senate version of the bill. "After being gone for a decade and then returning, I see the Legislature more partisan than ever," Knoblach said. "This change would help break the gridlock and lead to a better Minnesota."
IRON, Minn. — An Iron Range man was sentenced Thursday to more than 33 years in prison for possessing and producing child pornography. The U.S. Attorney's Office for Minnesota announced that Sean Penoncello, 42, of Iron received a sentence of 33⅓ years in prison and 10 years of supervised release after being found guilty in federal court last fall on two counts of producing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.
ST. PAUL -- Single cases of salmonella associated with Wonderful Pistachios have been reported in Minnesota and North Dakota. The Minnesota case was a man who was not hospitalized and has recovered. The North Dakota case was in Morton County but not other information about the victim was released. Wonderful Pistachios of Lost Hills, Calif., voluntarily recalled selected in-shell and shelled pistachios due to possible Salmonella contamination in an announcement Wednesday.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota’s jobless rate held steady at 3.7 percent in January, according to figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in January. State employers eliminated 5,000 jobs during the month, including 3,800 jobs in the government sector. However, during the past year Minnesota has gained 39,916 jobs, a growth rate of 1.4 percent. The U.S. growth rate during that period was 1.9 percent.
BLAINE, Minn. -- A fourth-grade teacher at a Blaine elementary school is accused of molesting a student multiple times over the course of several months. Kenneth Lee Sonnenfeld Jr., 52, of Oak Grove, was charged Wednesday in Anoka County District Court with second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Sonnenfeld teaches math and science at Johnsville Elementary School in Blaine.
COON RAPIDS, Minn. -- A Coon Rapids woman died in an overnight Anoka County crash in which the car she was riding in hit a stalled vehicle on U.S. 10. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Ashley A. Novak, 30, was the passenger in a Ford Crown Victoria that was eastbound on U.S. 10 near University Avenue in Coon Rapids.
BLOMKEST, Minn. --A Blomkest woman who allegedly rammed her vehicle into her ex-boyfriend's vehicle has been charged with second-degree assault, first-degree damage to property, child endangerment and domestic assault. A criminal complaint in Kandiyohi County District Court says Amanda Mae Erickson, 33, got into a verbal argument Tuesday morning with her ex-boyfriend at a Blomkest home.
LITCHFIELD--An inmate at the Moose Lake Correctional Facility allegedly swallowed balloons filled with the controlled substance clonazepam and chewing tobacco to smuggle them into the prison. His wife, Valys Marie Provost, 36, of Cosmos, has now been charged in Meeker County District Court with three felony counts and two gross misdemeanor counts for conspiring with her husband, Shawn Provost, 37, to sneak in the substances.
FARGO--A veteran Fargo prosecutor is calling it one of the worst cases of sexual assault he's ever encountered. Speaking at a hearing in Cass County District Court on Wednesday, Assistant State's Attorney Mark Boening told Judge John Irby that bail should remain at $100,000--cash, or bond--for Timothy L. Sola, 23, of Mapleton, who faces charges of gross sexual imposition, aggravated assault and terrorizing, all felonies.