By Mark Zdechlik MPR News 91.3 FM Maplewood — Business is booming at Maplewood Tobacco, as a steady stream of customers tries to stock up before Minnesota’s cigarette tax jumps $1.60 a pack on July 1. "People been buying like crazy. I mean we’ve got a few customers buying 10 cartons, 20 cartons, cases of little cigars," store manager Anan Barbarawi said. "Every time they buy something they tell us how exactly they’re saving. I mean, they tell us, ‘here we saved $160 bucks.’ " But the surge in cigarette sales that is keeping him busy will likely soon end.
By Brett Neely MPR News 91.3 FM Washington — The farm bill passed a major procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate Thursday when a vote to end debate won approval by a wide margin. On Monday, the bill could receive a vote in the full Senate, where it is expected to pass. But the farm bill appears to be in potentially serious trouble in the House because of a partisan battle over spending on the federal food stamp program. The farm bill is a much broader piece of legislation than its name suggests.
By Dan Kraker MPR News 91.3 FM DULUTH — A new kind of first aid class is soaring in participation across Minnesota and the nation, as tens of thousands of people seek training in how to help people with mental illness and perhaps slow the incidence of shootings in public places. Enrollment in mental health first aid classes has jumped nearly 40 percent in the past year, boosted in part by President Obama, who endorsed the training for all teachers following the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six teachers. People with menta
By Annie Baxter MPR News 91.3 FM ST. PAUL — A moving truck sat idle on the street of a home in Shoreview, Minn., Tuesday, surrounded by police cars. As a police helicopter hovered noisily above, police poured over the home to investigate multiple shootings that left two people dead and two others wounded. The truck was there because Nancy Sullivan, 57, was moving out of the house she shared with her longtime boyfriend, Johnny Lee Simpson, 65.
By Brandt Williams MPR News 91.3 FM MINNEAPOLIS — Legislators in Minnesota and around the country have responded to recent mass shootings by passing laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of people who have mental illnesses and may be dangerous. Experts say most people with mental illness are non-violent.
By Dan Kraker MPR News 91.3 FM ELY — The polarizing divide over the future of mining around Ely will be on display this weekend, when an anti-mining group opens shop on Sheridan Street, the canoeing mecca’s main drag. Workers in the new center, dubbed "Sustainable Ely," will encourage tourists to take action urging President Obama to protect the region’s environment from copper-nickel mining.
Elbow Lake — In a sprawling bee yard, beekeeper Steve Ellis, wearily surveyed 1,300 hives destined for fields across the countryside. Given that bees pollinate fruits, vegetables and nuts, and pollination is required for about one third of all food production, he should be enthused about their summer journey. But as Ellis knelt in front of a hive to inspect it, he had cause for concern. Many of the bees were in no condition to pollinate plants and make honey. Indeed, drifts of decomposing bees covered the ground. "From a beekeeper’s standpoint it’s a nightmare," Ellis said.
Bemidji — Two groups challenging Minnesota rules for a wolf hunting and trapping season were dealt another blow Tuesday when the Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed a petition aimed at undoing the rules establishing a wolf hunt. The appeals judges decided Howling for Wolves and the Center for Biological Diversity, both based in the Twin Cities, lacked sufficient legal standing to challenge the state Department of Natural Resources’ process for establishing the state’s first managed wolf season. The court found the rulemaking process did not interfere with the two groups’ ability to subm
ST. PAUL — Studies show raising income tax rates doesn’t lead to an exodus of wealthy people to lower tax states. A key source of revenue in the Minnesota’s freshly minted budget is a new higher income tax rate that the top 2 percent of earners will pay. The tax increase moves the top rate from nearly 8 percent to nearly 10 percent. Some high earners in Minnesota say now that the Legislature has put higher taxes on the wealthiest in place, they’re considering moving to states with lower, or no income taxes. Among them is Mike Corbin, who has a law practice in Faribault.
ST. PAUL — Thousands of Minnesota soldiers are returning from war to live with chronic pain from internal injuries and musculoskeletal disorders that leave many impaired. An MPR News analysis of data from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows a steep increase such injuries over the last decade. In 2012, doctors at VA hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Cloud, Minn., Fargo, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D.