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ST. PAUL — Bus services throughout greater Minnesota could add up to 100,000 service hours with extra funding from a new state grant. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle announced a $23.7 million in grants to expand transit services throughout the state on Thursday, March 30. The grants will be divvied among 23 bus service providers. Individual grants range from $47,300 to the Hibbing bus system to $4 million for St. Cloud Metro Transit.
ST. PAUL — Another tuition freeze could be on the horizon for students at Minnesota State colleges and universities. Finance bills from the state House and Senate call for a halt to rising tuition costs within the Minnesota State system. Sen. Michelle Fischbach, Senate higher education chairwoman, penned a bill that would block state colleges and universities from raising tuition from 2016-2017 rates for two years.
ST. PAUL—Signs of homelessness in small Minnesota communities are not always as obvious as in bigger cities. While people without a roof over their head may be able to stay at a shelter or apply for housing projects in urban cities, homeless populations in rural communities may be hundreds of miles away from the nearest shelter. Some will stay with family members or friends. Others will seek shelter in fish houses on frozen lakes, heated dog houses or vacant trailers.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans could bypass the permit process to carry a gun if a House bill became law. Another bill would eliminate the legal requirements to retreat before implementing deadly force for self-defense outside the home. House Public Safety Chairman Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, will consider both bills while drafting his overall public safety legislation. Testifiers addressed a House public safety committee on both bills in a packed meeting room Wednesday, March 8.
ST. PAUL — Three sexual assault survivors told Minnesota legislators that current criminal sentencing procedures endanger children. They testified at a House public safety committee meeting Tuesday, March 7 in favor of a bill that would: • Eliminate some plea agreements that let sex offenders avoid prison. • Mandate minimum sentences for child pornography. • Require that some sex offenders remain under supervision for life, even after they get out of jail or prison.
ST. PAUL — Andrew Lang's job is not exactly what his 6- and 9-year-old sons expected. When he was elected to public office for the first time in November, the boys thought he would serve in the Imperial Senate on a floating pod. They were slightly disappointed to learn their dad would legislate in Minnesota rather than the First Galactic Empire of "Star Wars." Still, the boys attended Gov. Mark Dayton's signing of Lang's first passed Senate bill Feb. 17. They even got a couple of hockey sticks from the governor's office out of it.
ST. PAUL — Scrolling through a Sunday sales hashtag on Twitter, Minnesota Senate Democratic staffers briefly pondered a phrase that had been used to describe a bill that would allow Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota: "It's lit." "I feel like 'lit' is like 'on fleek,' but it would be a little more aggressive," said Ellen Anderson, digital media coordinator with the caucus.
ST. PAUL—A new form of health insurance could be available next year to Minnesotans in the individual health insurance market if a proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton gains approval of state legislators and the federal government. About 250,000 people buy health insurance from the individual market. Dayton's "public option" would allow those who do not receive federal subsidies to buy a plan based on MinnesotaCare, which provides subsidized insurance to the state's working poor.
ST. PAUL — Students and faculty of Minnesota State colleges and universities agree that state lawmakers should prioritize curbing tuition costs as they consider a request for additional funding. The school system is requesting $178 million in additional state funding, which would include $143 million in campus support that would allow another two-year tuition freeze across the system.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota State colleges and universities administrators say additional spending is needed to help the state keep pace with growing workforce needs. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development projects that more than 70 percent of jobs in the state will require postsecondary education by 2020. Laura King, chief finance officer with Minnesota State, said a requested $178 million in additional state funding over two years would help the state's "workforce engine" retain students and control rising tuition.