GUN CONTROL House panel passes background checks at gun shows ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A House panel has passed a bill that would require background checks for firearm sales at gun shows, but that measure may still get trimmed down before becoming Minnesota law. The House Public Safety Committee endorsed legislation Thursday night on a 10-8 vote, with one Democrat, Representative John Ward of Baxter, joining all Republicans to oppose the bill. The bill also includes provisions to improve information the state sends to a national background check database and help county attorneys crack down on illegal gun owners. Ward’s “no” vote illustrates the political difficulty of revising gun laws. He and other rural Democrats say they won’t support any expansion of the state’s current background check system. Gun discussions will be on pause for weeks as legislators’ attention turns to the state budget.
LETTERS TO EDITOR-COMPLAINT Minn. Dems accuse GOP lawmaker of violating law ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota’s Democratic Party wants an administrative judge to rule that a veteran Republican lawmaker broke the law with letters to newspapers saying four freshmen Democrats had voted for billions in new taxes. The party’s complaint against Representative Greg Davids of Preston was filed Thursday with the Office of Administrative Hearings. It claims Davids was conflating routine procedural votes as support for the substance of legislation. Before a bill approved in one committee can be heard by the next, a committee report is adopted by the full House. That step is increasingly resulting in recorded votes. Davids’ letters seize on a motion to advance Governor Mark Dayton’s tax bill to a committee for a hearing as a vote for new taxes. He says he is confident in his interpretation of the votes and regards the complaint as a test case on the underlying tactic.
PARK HAZE RULES-NOLAN Nolan: More time needed to meet air standards (Information in the following story is from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org) ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – U.S. Representative Rick Nolan says Minnesota taconite producers need more time to meet certain air quality standards. Nolan says he’s telling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the companies need up to five years to try out new technologies aimed at reducing pollution. The federal regulations are aimed at reducing haze over northern Minnesota’s wild areas including Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The federal plan requires taconite plants to install cleaner-burning furnaces over roughly three years. Nolan, a Democrat, says the companies just need a little more time so they can install the equipment without jeopardizing production. Minnesota Public Radio News reports environmental groups are criticizing Nolan’s position. The EPA already has changed some parts of its plan in response to industry concerns.
TODDLER SLAPPED Man pleads not guilty to slapping toddler on plane ATLANTA (AP) – A man accused of slapping a toddler on an Atlanta-bound flight and using a racial slur has pleaded not guilty to assault in federal court. Joe Hundley of Hayden, Idaho, appeared in court Wednesday. Authorities say he used racial slur when telling a fellow passenger to quiet her baby and slapped the child. The incident unfolded February 8th aboard a Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis. Hundley’s attorney, Marcia Shein, says the 60-year-old man has admitted to using the racial slur. She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hundley was traveling to Atlanta to take his only child off life support after his son overdosed on insulin. She says Hundley was distraught during the flight. Hundley is scheduled to appear again in court April 9th.
MINNESOTA-NORTH DAKOTA RIVALRY Lawmaker seeks to preserve MN-ND hockey rivalry ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A Minnesota lawmaker wants to make sure the Minnesota-North Dakota men’s college hockey rivalry continues after the Gophers leave the WCHA. Representative Ryan Winkler, a Democrat from Golden Valley, introduced a bill Thursday that would pay the University of Minnesota $800,000 in any year that Minnesota plays North Dakota at least once. It wouldn’t matter which team wins. Winkler says his bill is a little bit in jest. But he points out he’s on a higher education committee with jurisdiction over university funding. Minnesota is leaving the WCHA to join the Big Ten’s new hockey league while North Dakota is joining the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. They won’t play again in the regular season for at least two years. Winkler says that’s no reason to end one of the great rivalries in college hockey.