May 21 news

WORTHINGTON — As the city of Worthington continues the process of final cleanup, the city’s debris contractor will start the final pass for vegetative debris on May 28. City residents are asked to continue to place any storm-generated vegetative debris along the boulevard for final pick-up before that date. Residents are reminded that the debris must be storm-generated vegetative debris to be eligible for removal.

Residents are also reminded that if they hire a private contractor to do tree trimming in their yard, the contractor must dispose of that vegetative matter. It is not qualified for pickup by FEMA. Any debris placed on the City’s boulevard after May 27 may not be picked up and will be the responsibility of the homeowner for removal.

WORTHINGTON —The city of Worthington, through a Blandin Foundation program will be participating in an initiative to encourage leadership within the ethnic community. The goal of the project is to build upon the progress already being made. The group will have a meeting Wednesday to start what will be an in-depth process. The initiative could take up to seven months.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Rock Rapids woman is behind bars after she was arrested on several charges including assault on a peace officer. The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Sunday morning, one of their deputies arrested 54-year-old Margaret Jean Kramer of Rock Rapids. Kramer was charged with Trespassing, a simple misdemeanor, Interference with Official Acts, a simple misdemeanor and Assaulting a Peace Officer, an aggravated misdemeanor. Kramer is being held at the Lyon County Jail on a $2000 bond.

ST. PAUL –As the last hours of the Minnesota Legislative Session wound down, Rep. Joe Schomacker reported the disaster relief bill for Rock, Nobles, Jackson, Murray, and Cottonwood Counties was passed off of the House floor. Rep. Hamilton was able to secure an additional $250,000 in support aid for stump grinding and other costs to the counties that are not covered under the FEMA reimbursements. That change sent the bill back to the senate to concur before it went to Gov. Mark Dayton. Sen. Bill Weber was able to secure the measure through the Senate earlier Monday evening, Schomacker said.

With five minutes in the 2013 legislative session to spare before the midnight deadline, the Senate voted 36-30 to pass a $2.1 billion tax bill that ushers in a higher taxes on the wealthy and smokers. Legislators also approved an eleventh-hour proposal to rehabilitate the State Capitol and pay for flood control in outstate Minnesota, each with strong bipartisan support.

DFL legislators have spent months battling one another over how to eliminate a $627 million deficit and provide new money for schools, colleges and property tax relief. The infusion of sweeping new tax revenues comes after Republicans refused for more than a decade to budge on any statewide tax hikes, although many fees rose dramatically in that time.

Proposals that did not survive: A much-criticized proposal to tax clothing, a temporary income tax surcharge and an increase in the alcohol tax, which had drawn intense opposition from the state’s beer and wine industry.

In the end, lawmakers reverted to the framework of a plan first offered by Dayton earlier this year.

The plan creates a new, top income tax tier for married couples with taxable income above $250,000 a year. Under the plan, the top 2 percent of wage earners will pay 9.85 percent. That is a 2 percentage point jump from the current top rate and will make Minnesota’s top rate the fifth-highest in the nation. Only California, New York, Hawaii and Oregon would be higher.

DFLers also ratcheted up the tobacco tax by $1.60 per pack of cigarettes. Part of the new tobacco revenue would go to help repay the state’s share of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

In a personal blog, Schomacker wrote that legislators were wondering all day why the Senate wasn’t taking up the tax bill and the House wasn’t taking up the State Government Finance bill, until the AP reported each chamber was holding the bills to ensure that the other didn’t adjourn too early. Apparently even under single party control there is still significant distrust amongst the leadership, Schomacker stated.

ST. PAUL - The House concluded a debate that stretched over a couple of days over the unionization of two groups of government-subsidized workers . The bill allows in-home child care providers and personal care assistants that work with the elderly and disabled to hold elections on whether to join unions. It passed 68-66, with a few DFLers joining the GOP opposition.

Republicans accused Democrats of paying back their allies in organized labor for their help in last fall's election. Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, said the union bill is unnecessary and inappropriate. She said the she saw the unionization of self-employed people as an assault on women-owned businesses.

There were also claims that the bill would wrongly divert tax dollars to pay union dues. But the bill's author disagreed. Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said the state reimbursement to providers is for services rendered, and at that point the money no longer belongs to the taxpayers.

OKLAHOMA - A tornado reported to be more than a mile wide ripped through the Oklahoma City area Monday afternoon, flattening neighborhoods and leaving a massive path of destruction in its wake.

The Associated Press reported the number of deaths was at least 51 and it was rising through the evening.
Scores of buildings – including an elementary school – were destroyed in Moore, a suburb south of Oklahoma City. At one point Monday evening, a majority of the 120 injured people being treated by area hospitals were children, the AP reported.

A National Weather Service spokeswoman said the tornado touched down just before 3 p.m. and was on the ground for about 40 minutes. It traveled 20 miles, first striking the town of Newcastle, before reaching Moore.
The twister was two miles wide at its largest point, and homes, businesses, trailer parks and two schools “were gone” in Moore.

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