Christopher Magan / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL—They came to the Minnesota Capitol frustrated and angry. Many cried as they told their stories; some struggled to hold back sobs of grief. "I don't have politically correct words to say what I've seen," Corey Tanner told a Senate committee investigating the abuse of seniors and vulnerable adults. His mother, Mildred, was mistreated in a memory-care facility.
ST. PAUL — More Minnesotans are overdosing on opioids than ever before and the death toll from the drugs continues to climb. In 2016, there were more than 2,000 opioid overdoses and 395 of them were fatal. That's a more than 1,000 percent increase in overdoses and a 600 percent increase in fatalities since 2000.
ST. PAUL — Monica Rudolph is a survivor. She's been sober almost a year. Ryan Anderson didn't make it. He died of an overdose in December. Both became addicts by taking prescription opioids. Rudolph was prescribed the powerful painkillers after a car accident. Anderson obtained them illicitly to experiment recreationally. They both ended up hooked on heroin. Rudolph and Anderson sought treatment for their addictions and had different experiences.
ST. PAUL—Republicans in the Minnesota House want to make it easier for the recently enacted corporate tax cuts to result in lower energy rates for consumers. State Reps. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, and Nolan West, R-Blaine, said at a news conference Tuesday that the 14 percent reduction in corporate taxes approved by Congress in December should be worth $200 million to Minnesota utility companies. They want to see that savings passed on to energy consumers in the form of lower prices rather than landing in the companies' coffers.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton wants Minnesota's congressional delegation to fight for the renewal of funding for health centers that serve rural communities and the poor. In September, the $3.6 billion fund that supports Community Health Centers across the nation expired and Congress has not reauthorized it. That could mean 70 centers that serve 180,000 Minnesotans will lose out on $27 million in funding this year.
Minnesota's newest senator now has some competition from within her own party. Nick Leonard, a Minneapolis lawyer and activist, announced Monday, Feb. 5, he would challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith for the seat she was appointed to in December. Smith replaced Al Franken, who stepped down in January amid allegations of sexual impropriety. Smith was previously lieutenant governor.
ST. PAUL—A collaborative that has provided Minnesota school districts with technology for 50 years is dissolving, but the organization's leaders say there's a good chance they'll continue under new stewardship. Forty-seven members of the Technology Information and Educational Services, or TIES, voted Wednesday to end their ownership of the organization as the education technology market has grown increasingly competitive. One school district abstained from the vote.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating complaints against two employees who are responsible for uncovering misconduct at senior and long-term care facilities. A department spokesman confirmed late Tuesday, Jan. 23, that there were complaints pending against Kris Lohrke, director of the Office of Health Facility Complaints, and her colleague Assistant Director Michelle Ness. Under state law, the specifics of complaints against public employees become public only after the investigation is completed and if an employee is disciplined.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's job market has improved to record levels for black residents although their jobless rate remains more than double the state average. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, or DEED, released a jobs report Thursday, Jan., 18, that showed 7.5 percent of black Minnesotans were unemployed in December. That's the lowest jobless rate for black residents since the state began keeping records in 2001.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's individual health insurance marketplace, MNsure, saw record enrollments and the smoothest annual sign-up period since the agency's troubled launch in 2013. MNsure announced Wednesday, Jan. 17, that more than 116,000 people purchased insurance through the state market created under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. That's slightly higher than last year, when 114,810 people bought plans, but it falls short of the 5 percent growth agency officials anticipated.