MPR News Update

Minnesota National Guard on point for women in combat roles; Dayton on notice over taxes

by John Wanamaker, Minnesota Public Radio,
Hart Van Denburg, Minnesota Public Radio

Jan 25, 2013

Minnesota's citizen soldiers are helping to lead the way for women in military combat roles. Gov. Dayton continues to find resistance to his just-released budget plans. We have an update on flu deaths. There's a new homeless count. And we hear another perspective on the racial incident at Washburn High School in Minneapolis. All that and more in today's MPR News Update.

WOMEN IN COMBAT: The Minnesota National Guard's First Brigade Combat Team is one of nine brigades around the country helping to pilot the Pentagon's new policy lifting the restriction on women in combat. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday lifted the 1994 ban prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. The move opens more than 230,000 new jobs to women nationwide.

WHAT IT MEANS: Now that the ban on women in combat has been lifted, what happens next? What might the effect on the military be as a result of this policy change? Greg Jacob, former U.S. Marine and policy director at the Service Women's Action Network, and Anne M. Coughlin, professor of law at the University of Virginia and head of the Molly Pitcher Project, joined The Daily Circuit Friday to discuss the change.

BUDGET ON MENTAL HEALTH: The governor's budget proposal, released Tuesday, calls for counties to pay a greater share of the cost for patients at the troubled Minnesota Security Hospital and the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center. The two facilities provide long-term psychiatric treatment to adults with severe mental illness. Counties currently pay 10 percent of the treatment costs for each resident at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, Minn. Dayton's budget would have counties pay 50 percent.

DAYTON MEETS THE EDITORS: If Gov. Mark Dayton was hoping Minnesota newspapers would endorse his tax plan on their editorial pages, he may be disappointed. He faced a lot of criticism on his budget proposal Thursday when he gave a speech to the Minnesota Newspaper Association at its annual convention in Bloomington. Among their complaints: Expanding the sales tax to newspaper ink, paper and advertising would result in job losses.

SALES TAX IMPACT: The Minnesota Department of Revenue released a list of the items Thursday night that would be taxed under Dayton's budget plan. Dayton announced earlier this week that he wanted to expand the sales tax to clothing items above $100 and business and consumer services, but did not give much in the way of specifics. Read the details here.

THE WASHBURN INCIDENT: The Minneapolis school district is considering whether to change its curricula after an emotional community meeting on Wednesday night over a Washburn High School incident where a dark skinned doll was found hanging by a piece of string in a stairwell. Julie Landsman taught in Minneapolis public schools for more than 20 years and has since written several books on race. She spoke with Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer.

NO PARKING: Both Minneapolis and St. Paul are making big investments in their downtowns and hope to lure more residents to live there. But at the same time, the cities are taking steps to reduce the amount of parking available downtown. And that's alarmed some downtown residents.

HOMELESS NUMBERS: All over Minnesota on Thursday, communities were counting the number of people who are homeless. The annual one-day "point-in-time" count is required by the federal government. In Hennepin County, outreach workers were particularly focused on homeless people under age 25. Hennepin is one of nine sites, along with Boston and New York, piloting the in-depth survey.

OUTSTATE HOMELESS: Mary Ulland Evans, a resource planner for Three Rivers Community Action in southern Minnesota, and Kim Randolph, stabilization services director for Churches United in Ministry and the Human Development Center in Duluth, joined The Daily Circuit Friday to discuss the challenges facing the homeless in outstate Minnesota.

MINING JOBS: The mining industry is holding a job fair on the Iron Range on Friday as mining employment in northeast Minnesota is growing. Employment in the industry has grown by about 25 percent over the past two years, to around 4,500 jobs.

PINNACLE JOBS: Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines plans to move its headquarters to the Twin Cities by May. The airline, which provides regional air services for Delta Air Lines, has about 500 employees at its Tennessee headquarters and has been reorganizing under bankruptcy protection since last year.

RAISING ANOTHER 'DOUBT': After life as a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and then an Oscar-nominated film, "Doubt" by John Patrick Shanley will have its world premiere as an opera this weekend in St. Paul. Shanley, who wrote the libretto for the Minnesota Opera production, said it is the most complete telling of his story about a priest accused of impropriety.

FLU NUMBERS: Minnesota's death toll from flu also continues to climb. The Department confirmed 15 additional deaths related to influenza, bringing the total number of flu deaths this season to 75. That surpasses the record high of 70 deaths during the 2010-2011 flu season.

MOVING TARGET: Firearms laws and rules vary by state, and even within states, according to a 2011 compilation of state gun laws by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. As debate over gun violence and gun control picks up steam in Washington, The Associated Press looks at existing laws across the country and finds them a moving target.

GUN GLOSSARY: Even Americans who have never touched a gun are probably familiar with the looks and names of a few -- the military M16, the action-movie's Uzi, the historic Colt .45. But what's a high-capacity magazine? Which guns are "military style"? Why would a person use one? Here's a glossary of what are fast becoming hot-button words.

FILIBUSTER (SORT OF) REFORM: The tradition-laden Senate voted Thursday to modestly curb filibusters, using a bipartisan consensus rare in today's hyper-partisan climate to make it a bit harder but not impossible for outnumbered senators to sink bills and nominations.

YOU KNEW WE'D DIG UP THAT JIMMY STEWART CLIP: From Jimmy Stewart's fictional all-night talkathon to real-life dramas over World War I and civil rights, the Senate's filibuster has played a notable -- sometimes reviled -- role in the nation's history.

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