March 21 news

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota State Senate opted to give an additional day of consideration to the Senate Tax Bill (HF 1777) on Thursday, and will take up the bill today.. The bill includes federal income tax conformity, rescission of the gift tax, and estate tax reform. Senator Bill Weber was pleased to see language approving a new senate office building was not included.

The last thing Minnesota taxpayers need is to spend $90 million on a lavish new building for politicians, he said.

Last year there were problems caused by last minute changes to the tax bill unknown even to the committee chair and the governor signed the bill without reading it. This time, Weber said, it’s good to see the senate take the time to make sure they aren’t causing any additional problems.

Minnesotans who already have filed returns may need to amend them if they want new tax cuts contained in the bill. Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans said about 40 percent of Minnesota taxpayers file their income tax returns between April 1 and April 15, and so many changes in tax laws are contained in the stalled bill that his department, tax preparers and software companies face a mountain of work to keep up.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa - A Rock Rapids man will serve a ten-year prison term after he pleaded guilty to a charge of sex abuse. The Lyon County Attorney’s Office reports that 52-year-old Jeffrey Todd Benson of Rock Rapids entered a plea of guilty last week to Third Degree Sexual Abuse, a Class C Felony.

The charge stems from a criminal complaint stating that Benson committed a sex act with a 15-year-old victim. Benson was 51 years old at the time of the offense. After entering a plea of guilty Benson was sentenced by the Third Judicial District Court to a prison sentence not to exceed ten years.

Benson will need to register as a sex offender when he is released on parole, work release, or any other release from custody, according to the county attorney’s office. He was also ordered to pay fines, court costs, and restitution.

SPENCER, Iowa - The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of theft at the Hope Lutheran Church. Authorities say that sometime between 8 pm on Monday, March 17th and 10:40 am on Tuesday, March 18th, someone apparently entered the church and rummaged through drawers and cupboards.

A silver cross was reportedly stolen and a storage tote was broken into. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Clay County Sheriff’s Office at 712-262-3221.

MAURICE, Iowa — A field fire that appears to have started on the railroad tracks south of Maurice, into Plymouth County required the response of six area fire departments on Thursday afternoon. Le Mars Fire Chief David Schipper says the call went out about 1:30 p.m., to a field fire at Lake Avenue and 100th Street in Plymouth County. The fire appears to have started on the BNSF railroad right-of-way and then quickly entered a cornstalk field.

When firefighters arrived, the railroad right-of-way was on fire and it had just jumped into the field on the west side of the tracks. Strong winds took it west, north and some south, forcing the firefighters to protect a farm on the west side and two to the south. Schipper said the big fire trucks had a hard time so they had to call for more help for other departments to bring in their grass rigs. Fire crews from Orange City, Maurice, Ireton, Merrill, and Sioux Center were called to help.

A couple of fire trucks did get stuck, but they were able to pull them out with the help of a farmer’s tractor.

Schipper said the BNSF railroad was closed for at least an hour, due to the heavy smoke. The cause of the fire was determined to be a spark from a passing train.

MINNESOTA - With less a less than two weeks before the Affordable Care Act's deadline for most Americans to obtain health insurance, the Minnesota agency that runs the state online insurance marketplace aims to reach an important group: young people.
People under age 34 are considered key to the long-term financial health of online insurance exchanges like MNsure. But its leaders aren't waiting for young adults to come to them. They're going to universities, breweries and bars — and buying television ads.

MNsure launched the new campaign at St. Paul College on Thursday. In the commons area as students ate lunch, studied or chatted, MNsure interim CEO Scott Leitz told reporters that many young people may not think they need coverage if they're healthy, but that's not true.

In 2014 alone, nearly 2 million people were hospitalized for sports-related injuries, Leitz said. To help drive that message home, the two Somali stars from the Captain Phillips movie, Barkhad Abdi and Faysal Ahmed, will speak Friday in Minneapolis and appear in public service announcements.

MINNESOTA - A Hennepin County grand jury decided not to indict two Minnetonka police officers in the shooting death of Michael Tray in October.

Tray, 27, of Austin, Minn., was shot to death by police officers in the parking garage of Claremont Apartments in Minnetonka on the evening of Oct. 23.

Minnetonka police officials said officers James Comings and Ryan Smith were called to the building after someone reported a man with a gun. Police said officers confronted Tray, who was carrying a gun, and then shot him.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner reported that Tray died of multiple gunshot wounds.

After the shooting, Minnetonka police placed Comings and Smith temporary administrative leave, as is standard procedure. Police officials said at the time that both officers had been with the department for about a year and a half, and that neither had received any citizen complaints or disciplinary actions.

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Fire

Field fires are really strong. Be safe everyone. - Feed the Children

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