>>Simon Confident About MN Elections As Early Voting Opens

(St. Paul, MN)    Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon says he’s confident that the state’s election system will be able to handle the challenges of the upcoming year.  Simon talked about those challenges yesterday on the eve of early voting for the March 5th presidential primaries.  Simon said this election year will be among “the most intense in history” and could be plagued by misinformation, threats and challenges to voting system integrity.  But the state’s top election official says he’s optimistic that the safeguards put in place will help make voting secure and allow Minnesotans to trust the results. (24/7 News Source)

>>Johnson Announces Candidacy For MN State Representative

(Polk County, MN)    A former candidate for Congress is setting his sights on winning a spot in the Minnesota Legislature.  Travis “Bull” Johnson will run for the seat being vacated by State Representative Deb Kiel of Crookston.  The District 1-B representative announced last week that she will not run for re-election in November.  Johnson made an unsuccessful run for the Seventh District congressional seat as a member of the Legal Marijuana Now Party in 2022.  He has not announced a party affiliation for the upcoming election.(24/7 News Source)

>>MN Unemployment Drops In December

(St. Paul, MN)    Unemployment declined in Minnesota last month.  The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced yesterday that unemployment dropped from three-point-one-percent in November to two-point-nine-percent in December.  The number of jobs in the state increased by 800 last month.  State officials say participation in the labor force declined slightly in December, making hiring more difficult because of the already tight labor market.(24/7 News Source)

(Brainerd) The state’s human rights department filed a lawsuit Thursday against a Brainerd printing company that alleges leadership failed to meaningfully stop a supervisor who was repeatedly sexually harassing two employees. According to the Star Tribune,the suit asserts Sheridan Printing violated the state’s civil rights law. The complaint was filed in Crow Wing County district court by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and is signed by Attorney General Keith Ellison. It asks the company to revise its policies to prevent harassment, pay a fine and compensate the employees for mental anguish and suffering. (Star Tribune)

A representative from Sheridan did not respond to a request for comment. (Star Tribune)

>>Emerald Ash Borer Found In Kanabec Co. For First Time

(Kanabec Co., MN)    The emerald ash borer has been found Kanabec County for the first time ever.  The invasive pest was found near the town of Quamba along Highway 23.  The newly-discovered infestations mean that 47 of Minnesota’s 87 counties have now been affected by the tree-killing insects.  An emergency quarantine for the affected area is now in effect. (24/7 News Source)

>>Charges Filed Against Man In U Of M Threat

(Watson, MN)    A man accused of making threats that forced  the University of Minnesota and several other schools into lockdown is officially charged. Joseph Mark Rongstad surrendered to law enforcement after a standoff at a home in Chippewa County earlier this month, after he allegedly posted online that he was headed to the U of M to “shoot kids,” saying in one message that it would only take him two-and-a-half hours to get there.  He was charged today with several felonies.  Rongstad is being held on a million-dollar bond. (24/7 News Source)

Walz Says MNsure Signups Increased 13% During Signup Period

(St. Paul, MN)    More Minnesotans are using MNsure to sign up for health insurance coverage.  Governor Walz announced yesterday that over 146-thousand people used the state’s health insurance marketplace to get coverage before signups closed on January 15th.  That’s a 15-percent increase from last year.  MNsure officials say 58-percent of all households who signed up for coverage will receive a tax credit to help them afford coverage.  The average annual tax credit per household was reported at just over 64-hundred dollars.(24/7 News Source)

>>Minnesota Lottery Says $14M In Prizes Went Unclaimed Last Year

(St. Paul, MN)    The Minnesota Lottery says players should check their tickets closely before throwing them away.  The lottery says just under 14-million in prizes went unclaimed last year, including a one-million-dollar Mega Millions prize sold at a store in Fridley.  Lottery players have 12 months to claim their prizes before they are moved into the state’s general fund.(24/7 News Source)

>>Minnesota Department Of Natural Resources Redesigning Plan To Avoid Invasive Carp In State

(Minneapolis, MN)    The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is redesigning its plan to avoid and handle invasive carp in Minnesota for the next decade.  The DNR is already tracking and tagging the fish to learn their movements.  They have also teamed up with commercial fishing operations to decrease the carp’s population.  The fish species entered Minnesota starting in the 1970s.  The DNR says there is no documentation of the fish expanding its population. (24/7 News Source)

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