Around MN: Amendment pressure is on; Waiting on NFL stadium offerby Michael Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
Every day, MPR's Minnesota Today team highlights important stories throughout the state. Find more statewide news any time at www.minnesotatoday.org
PROPONENTS OF CONSTITUTIONAL BAN ON GAY MARRIAGE MAKE LAST STAND
With five days left of the regular legislative session, religious conservatives are renewing a call on lawmakers to propose an amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay marriage.
The Minnesota Independent says the ban "appears stalled." But activists on both sides of the issue are doing what they can to have their voice heard at the Capitol in the final days of this session.
On Monday, "dozens rallied in Duluth showing they support the right for everyone to get married," reports FOX21.
Time may be the biggest obstacle for activists trying to make a stand on gay marriage while Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers have, at this point, failed to reach agreement on the state budget.
Rep. Denny McNamara (R), who previously supported sending the issue to a public vote, hasn't publicly stated his position on this proposal. "I'm really not in tune with the whole marriage amendment discussion and really don't think we should be dealing with that right now," he told the South Washington County Bulletin.
Gay marriage is already illegal in Minnesota, but conservative activists view the current Republican majority as a friendly audience that will help them further their cause. That's not entirely the case.
Rep. John Kriesel (R), who is publicly opposed to the ban, received a letter from Rev. John Echert of Holy Trinity/Saint Augustine Parish in South St. Paul asking Kriesel to reconsider his position. The Minnesota Independent posted a portion of the exchange.
"I ask you to please reconsider your position on this critical matter. While we can legitimately debate issues related to finances and politics, those that are grounded upon basic moral principles and family values are rooted in the laws of God. I am commencing this week with a parish campaign to promote support for a Marriage Amendment in Minnesota," Rev. John Echert wrote in a letter to Rep. Kriesel.
An aide to Kriesel replied:
"Mr. Echert, I would like to respectfully remind you that the Internal Revenue Service frowns upon churches and religious organizations devoting time to influencing legislation. Your admission of the commencement of a politically involved 'campaign' will probably violate several state and federal tax provisions."
That didn't sit well with the Rev. Echert who says he has the right and authority to speak out on the moral issues facing society. Winona Daily News editor Darrell Ehrlick wrote a commentary calling the church's approach to the ban a series of "missteps" that could help offset the state budget deficit:
"Let Catholic Church leaders admit just what Father Echert did: They're launching an all-out political campaign. Granted, if the Catholic Church admitted that what it's doing jeopardizes its nonprofit status, it would be subject to taxes. Lots of 'em."
VIKES INCH CLOSER TO STADIUM DEAL WITH HELP FROM LEAGUE
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he'll reveal details in the next few days about the league's contribution toward a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Goodell met with Governor Mark Dayton and the legislators sponsoring a stadium bill this morning. The Vikings want to build a new stadium in Arden Hills, but there's a dispute over the cost of improving infrastructure around that north-metro site. Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel says his agency will have a more exact figure on road costs for the Arden Hills site by tomorrow.
MANY MINNESOTA SCHOOLS WITHOUT CYBER BULLYING POLICY
Nearly a third of all school districts and charter schools in Minnesota don't define or refer to electronic bullying in their bullying policies, even though state law requires it. That's one finding of an MPR News investigation into bullying. State law requires school districts to have anti-bullying policies that address electronic forms of intimidation...but there's no law requiring checks to make sure districts have those policies in place.
The Perham-Dent district does not specifically list cyber bullying in its bullying policy, but superintendent Tamara Uselman argues cyber bullying and other bullying shouldn't be separated. "The way I would look at it as a principal is that cyberspace is gym space is common space is classroom space," Uselman says. "You don't bully, no matter where you're at."
Minnesota's bullying law is among the weakest nationwide, and leaves most decisions on bullying to local districts.
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of workers Polaris has hired in the past nine months: 600
"The company, which manufactures and repairs tank trailers, said that a boost in demand from the oil industry has helped it hire more than 600 employees in the past nine months--and it has plans to add another 70 to 80 workers in the next couple of months." (from Twin Cities Business)