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Around the state: House approves $527 million in Legacy funding

April 7, 2017 GMT

Dayton official recommends vetoes for budget bills

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton’s top budget official says he’ll recommend the governor veto most of the GOP-controlled Legislature’s budget bills in their current form.

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans said the bills push significant costs into the future, cut vital services and oversell supposed savings.

Social service bills have some of the largest discrepancies. For example, Frans cited $321 million in projected health care savings in the House’s health and human services bill.

Frans said that’s done by eliminating inflation from the state’s program to provide health coverage to poor Minnesotans. He said that’s not realistic.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt said it’s too early to talk vetoes until the Legislature finishes bills. He said Republicans still plan to wrap up the session on time.

House approves $527 million in Legacy funding

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House has voted to distribute $527 million in funding to arts, environmental and cultural heritage projects across the state.

Tuesday’s House vote was unanimous.

The money comes from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment approved by Minnesota voters in 2008. The amendment raised the state’s sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent and dedicated the money to clean water projects, wetland and wildlife habitat restoration and to support Minnesota’s cultural heritage.

About $111 million from this year’s Legacy funds is set to go to clean-water projects, including efforts to protect drinking water from contaminants. Another $103 million would go toward prairie, forest and wetland restoration projects.

A companion bill is in committee in the Minnesota Senate.

Arbitrator reinstates St. Paul officer fired for kicking man

ST. PAUL — An arbitrator has ruled that a St. Paul police officer who was fired after being shown on video kicking a man should be reinstated.

But the arbitrator agreed the officer, Brett Palkowitsch, should receive a 30-day suspension

The decision was announced Wednesday, the same day the St. Paul City Council approved a record $2 million settlement with Frank Baker, the man who was kicked by Palkowitsch and badly bitten by a police dog last June.

In a statement, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said he remains “disappointed that an officer used excessive force, put his colleagues’ safety in jeopardy and severely injured an innocent man.”

St. Paul Police Federation President Dave Titus said Palkowitsch looks forward to returning to duty.

Bomb squad clears unattended bag at Twin Cities airport

MINNEAPOLIS — Police gave the all-clear Wednesday after a bomb squad checked out an unattended bag found at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The airport said in a tweet that police determined the bag did not contain anything hazardous and that all areas of the airport were now open.

Part of the airport mall at Terminal 1 was cleared and shut down Wednesday afternoon while police investigated the bag.

Airport spokesman Pat Hogan said the bag was left unattended at a restaurant beyond the security gates. Hogan said flights were not affected.

Woman hurt in Minneapolis cycle club shooting dies

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police say a woman has died after being wounded in a shooting at a motorcycle club last weekend.

Police say the woman died Wednesday after being in critical condition at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. Her name was not released.

Officers heard gunshots early Sunday and went to the Hell’s Lovers Motorcycle Club in north Minneapolis. Police found a woman who had been shot in the head and a man suffering from a stab wound to his abdomen that was not life-threatening. Another man who had been shot in the ankle arrived later at North Memorial.

Officers arrested a suspect at the club and another who fled on a motorcycle. Police say the two are no longer in custody.

Police say they have assigned four detectives to the case.

Le Sueur woman sentenced for plotting to kill ex-husband

LE CENTER — A southern Minnesota woman has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for plotting to kill her ex-husband.

Blanche Wilson, 42, of Le Sueur was sentenced Wednesday for conspiracy to commit murder. She will have to spend at least nine years in prison before she is eligible for supervised release.

Wilson and her mother, Linda Bloom, of Cleveland, Minn., were accused last June of enlisting an undercover officer to kill Wilson’s ex-husband after he won custody of the couple’s three children.

Bloom was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison last year.

Man pleads guilty to sexually abusing altar boy at church

ST. CLOUD — A volunteer accused of sexually abusing a teenage altar boy at a St. Cloud church has pleaded guilty.

Douglas Kleinsmith, 55, of Sartell, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of felony criminal sexual conduct and avoided trial.

Prosecutors will ask a Stearns County judge to sentence Kleinsmith to seven years in prison when he’s sentenced June 15.

Authorities say Kleinsmith volunteered to train altar boys at St. John Cantius Church and sexually abused one of the boys he trained both at the church and away from the church.

Kleinsmith was convicted in Idaho in 1991 of sexually abusing a child younger than 16.

Police arrest driver in death of Duluth woman struck by SUV

DULUTH — A Superior, Wis., woman is in jail after Duluth police say she struck and killed a pedestrian.

Officers were called to the crash Tuesday and determined the 49-year-old woman was driving an SUV that struck a 62-year-old Duluth woman.

The pedestrian died at the scene. Police on Wednesday identified her as Donna Ruth Estrom.

Police say the driver was under the influence. She was arrested and taken to the St. Louis County Jail, pending charges.