ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton is again proposing an income tax on people who spend 60 or more days a year in the state. Dayton argues that so-called “snowbirds,” people who spend the winter in warmer climates, use the same services everyone else pays for and should be required to pay their fair share. The governor’s proposal would require them to pay a prorated portion of their income taxes in Minnesota.
ST. PAUL – In a response to the concerns of school officials about spiraling special education costs, Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor is recommending more state funding and steps to curb the increasing costs of those programs. The auditor’s report, released earlier this week, notes that special education is taking up an increasing part of school district budgets at a time when federal and state funds don’t fully cover the $1.6 billion that schools spend on special education.
ST. PAUL – Hundreds of people in Minnesota with mental illness remain stuck in state-run psychiatric facilities for months or years after they are ready to leave, according to a report released last week by the state Office of the Legislative Auditor. The failure to discharge patients or provide community housing options may violate patients’ legal rights and likely puts the state at risk of lawsuits, the audit found.
WORTHINGTON – At a time when drought threatens state water supplies, scores of water permit holders in Minnesota are illegally using billions of gallons more water then they’re entitled to. Over the last six years, hundreds of individuals, businesses and even state government agencies have pumped more than their permit allows, according to state Department of Natural Resources records. But violators face few consequences for these misdemeanor violations. Even in a two-year drought, DNR officials admit they don’t spend much time enforcing permit limits.
On the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation — Today is the deadline for American Indians and their descendants to take part in a $3.4 billion settlement with the federal government over the mismanagement of Indian land and money. In Minnesota, the settlement will distribute $57 million to more than 35,000 tribal members.
CAMP RIPLEY – There’s nothing new about a roomful of guys playing videogames. But at the National Guard’s Camp Ripley in central Minnesota, one video game could have life or death consequences. Minnesota National Guard officers are using simulators to train troops in very real and potentially deadly skills – from shooting to driving to combat. Each soldier plays a special role – be it driver, truck commander or gunner. What each sees in the game is tailored to that job. That could place them behind the steering wheel or the barrel of a gun.
ST. PAUL – Teachers and school administrators across Minnesota are asking lawmakers to rethink a law they passed last year that was aimed at producing higher-quality teachers. The law requires teacher candidates to pass the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam before they can get a teacher’s license. The test includes reading, math and writing sections. Now schools are worried they might lose recruits, current teachers and particularly teachers of color because they haven’t passed the exam. There’s currently a proposal at the state Capitol to scrap the test altogether.
ST. CLOUD – Tiny amounts of chemicals in Minnesota lakes might be having a big effect on some fish populations, according to two new studies by Minnesota researchers. From the time they hatch, baby fathead minnows have limited chances of survival. Odds are good that they will be eaten by larger fish. But when exposed to drugs, their chances of surviving are worse, said Heiko Schoenfuss, a professor of toxicology at St. Cloud State University.
ST. PAUL – Gov. Mark Day ton’s sales tax proposal is attracting plenty of attention for how it would lower the tax rate but expand it to more services. The governor’s budget plan increases the level of state aid to cities and counties by $120 million a y ear. The governor wants the money to go to property tax relief over the next two y ears. The tax changes would apply to regular people and businesses, as well as cities and counties, which also have to pay the sales tax.
By Tim Post MPR News 91.3 FM MAPLE GROVE – Often the last resort of frustrated teachers, the command “Go to the principal’s office” is dreaded by students. But Minnesota schools are trying new ways to keep students in the classroom and out of trouble. State education officials are training teachers to better help students understand how to behave in school and encouraging principals to come up with alternatives to suspension. It’s all part of a Minnesota Department of Education initiative called Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, or PBIS.