GUNS-MENTAL ILLNESS Sheriffs propose improved gun background checks ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson says a person deemed mentally ill and dangerous should never be allowed to buy a gun. Olson and a coalition of sheriffs, attorneys and mental health advocates who want changes to ensure treatment for the mentally ill to reduce the chances they will turn to violence. Sheriffs want stronger background checks for gun buyers. They say all felony convictions, mental health court orders and other factors that would disqualify a gun buyer should be sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension within 24 hours, and immediately entered into the background check system. They also want police to have clear access to a person’s court mental health records. And they want the state to address a lack of services for Minnesotans with untreated mental illness.
MINNESOTA BUDGET-SELLING IT Dayton must sell sales tax change to fellow DFLers ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Governor Mark Dayton is starting to sell his proposal to lower Minnesota’s sales tax but apply it to more things, including clothes above $100. But one of his toughest markets will be fellow Democrats who control the Legislature. Dayton pitched his plan Wednesday to greater Minnesota media outlets and plans to tout it around the state. He wants to drop Minnesota’s sales tax rate from 6.875 percent to 5.5 percent, but add it to clothes, business services, haircuts and auto mechanics. Dayton says that and other tax changes, including a 94-cents-a-pack cigarette hike, are the honest way to pay for priorities like education and job training. DFL lawmakers like Dayton’s goals but many are unsure about the sales tax changes. One Democrat from Moorhead says clothes sellers in his border town would lose an advantage over competitors in Fargo.
DATABASE SECURITY Minn. lawmakers want tighter database security ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota lawmakers say more oversight and stricter punishment is needed to curb repeat misuse of databases. Senator Scott Dibble, a Minneapolis Democrat, and Representative Mary Liz Holberg, a Republican from Lakeville, outlined a bill Wednesday that would increase the criminal penalty for government employees who improperly access private databases. The bill also requires all government bodies, state and local, to lay out policies that restrict which employees can access the data, and requires agencies to publicly post an investigation after a breach occurs. Holberg says the string of recent database abuses has to stop. Most recently, the Department of Natural Resources discovered an employee had accessed driving records of more than 5,000 Minnesotans. The DNR has not named the employee. Holberg and Dibble’s bill would require them to do so.
MINNESOTA CLIMBER Minn. man on 3rd try to climb Mt. McKinley solo (Information in the following story is from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com) GRAND MARAIS, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota climber Lonnie Dupre is making his third attempt to become the first person to climb Alaska’s Mount McKinley solo in January. Dupre is in position to climb to the last camp before the summit of North America’s highest mountain. The Grand Marais (muh-ray) adventurer reached 14,200 feet on Tuesday. It took two days for him to move from his 11,200-foot camp. The Duluth News Tribune reports Dupre plans to rest Wednesday. Weather permitting, he plans to move supplies to 16,200 feet Thursday and return to 14,200 feet to sleep. Dupre hopes to move to high camp at 17,200 feet on Friday. Severe weather thwarted Dupre’s attempts to reach the summit in 2011 and 2012.
SOUTHWEST STATE-PRESIDENT 2 semifinalists named for SMSU president ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has named two semifinalists for president of Southwest Minnesota State University. The candidates are Connie J. Gores and Ronald Rosati. Gores has served at Winona State University since 2007 as vice president for student life and development. She was interim president of Winona State last summer. Rosati has been provost of Southeast Missouri State University since 2010. Rosati will visit Southwest Minnesota State on January 30th and Gores will visit the Marshall campus on February 1st. The MnSCU (MINN’-skew) Board of Trustees is expected to act on Chancellor Steven Rosenstone’s recommendation on a final candidate at its February 26th meeting. The new president is expected to begin in July. Ron Wood has been SMSU interim president since July 2011, after David Danahar retired.
BEAR RESEARCH-PERMIT DNR reduces permit for bear researcher (Information in the following story is from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com) ELY, Minn. (AP) – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has cut back on the number of bears a researcher may study and reduced the time he can do it. The DNR lowered the number of bears Lynn Rogers can collar and track from 15 to 12. And the permit is valid only through June, rather than December. The DNR says Rogers hasn’t produced enough scientific work. Rogers leads the nonprofit Wildlife Research Institute near Ely. He may be best-known for placing cameras in bear dens for Internet feeds that have attracted fans around the world. Rogers says the reduction in the number of bears he can study is “devastating.” He tells the Duluth News Tribune his institute currently has 13 bears collared.
CONSTRUCTION ZONE CRASH Man pleads guilty in crash that killed 2 workers HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) – A Missouri man has pleaded guilty in a crash in a Minnesota construction site that killed two electricians. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom says 23-year-old Kirk Edward Deamos of Raymore, Missouri pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of careless driving, a misdemeanor. The complaint says Deamos was driving on Interstate 35W through Burnsville on October 13th, 2011, when he struck 47-year-old Craig Carlson of Ramsey and 44-year-old Ronald Rajkowski of Saint Joseph, killing them. The judge sentenced Deamos to 30 days in jail, 200 hours of community service and a $100 fine. The prosecutor says under current Minnesota law, felony charges were not possible in this case. That’s because no drugs or alcohol were involved, gross negligence could not be proved and Deamos didn’t flee the scene of the crash.