New bill for pregnant inmates goes into effect, but funding isn't certain

Categories: Legislature

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Michael Coghlan via Flickr

As a pediatric researcher and assistant professor with the University of Minnesota, Rebecca Shlafer has studied children, and more specifically, the children of incarcerated women, for years. She's seen just how difficult life was for pregnant inmates, who are often alone in their pregnancy, feeling isolated and confused.

But in 2012, Shlafer saw how things could change. That's when she and UMN started working with the nonprofit Everyday Miracles on the Isis Rising project, a program to support pregnant inmates at the all-female correctional facility in Shakopee. The program, which started in 2010, supplies the pregnant women with doulas - professionals who are like coaches for for pregnant women, giving them emotional guidance and support through the entire pregnancy process.

See also:
Minnesota prison term lengths on the rise as crime falls


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Phyllis Kahn wants the state to restructure the MN Orchestra, sell the people half [UPDATE]

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-- Updated with a statement from the Orchestra --

State Rep. Phyllis Kahn is drafting legislation that could establish community-ownership of the dysfunctional Minnesota Orchestra.

She's still working on the details. As it stands, the governor would oversee the creation of a new company, and that company would sell stock to raise the funds to buy the orchestra.

No individual or entity would be allowed to own more than five percent of common stock, and at least half the company would be reserved for community members, who'd be limited to owning one percent a piece.

SEE ALSO: Osmo Vanska resigns from Minnesota Orchestra

For more than a year now, the community has mostly sat silent while the musicians and the board carried on a labor dispute and public relations campaigns. Two weeks ago, the orchestra's celebrated music director, Osmo Vanska, resigned.

When asked how a potential restructuring of the orchestra would prevent a similar impasse in the future, Kahn responded, "I'm not a financial expert." But she added, "The major thing for this bill is to start a conversation."

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MN United raising funds for pro-gay marriage legislators

Categories: GLBT, Legislature

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MN United has pledged to help support 15 legislators who voted for the same-sex marriage bill.
The organization that lobbied to legalize same-sex marriage in the Legislature is vowing to help raise money for 15 lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill.

The Minnesotans United PAC announced plans to support 15 legislators -- dubbed the "Minnesota 15" -- on Thursday. The group only released the first five names this week, and all are DFLers so far.

SEE ALSO:
A history of Minnesota's gay marriage debate
First same-sex couples pick up their marriage licenses

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Wisconsin Republicans want to kick investigative journalism center off UW campus

Categories: Legislature, Media

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Photos: Wisconsin Legislature, UW-Madison.
Rep. John Nygen (left) says the center can find housing elsewhere; Andy Hall, the nonprofit's executive director, says he was "blindsided" by the news.
Wisconsin Republicans want to boot a nonpartisan journalism watchdog organization off the UW-Madison campus.

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Paul Thissen wants to crack down on synthetic drugs

Categories: Drugs, Legislature

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Synthetic drugs are a perennial target in the Legislature.
Synthetic drugs are already illegal in Minnesota, but lawmakers believe there's more work to be done to "combat the spread of the sale" of these and other controlled substances across the state.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, announced this week he's starting a committee to study the issue and recommend policies next legislative session.

SEE ALSO:
Bipartisan medical marijuana bill to be introduced today at Capitol
Minnesota House members vote to drug test themselves

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Dayton signs law to move mentally ill offenders out of jail quicker

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The new law will move mentally ill offenders through the system quicker.
As of July 1, the state will be legally obligated to move mentally ill offenders out of jails within 48 hours of a judge signing a civil commitment order.

Designed to move people with mental illnesses to treatment quicker, the measure was included in the Health and Human Services omnibus bill passed by the Legislature this session, which Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law Thursday.

"It seemed like the best interest of the inmate had been forgotten," says bill author Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen. "This will ensure that we don't have anyone languishing without treatment in jail."

SEE ALSO:
Cover: Unfit for Trial
The In-Betweeners: Civil commitment loophole cycles out mentally ill offenders

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Watch the most compelling speech from the House gay marriage vote

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The Senate will vote on the gay marriage bill Monday.
On Thursday afternoon, the House voted 75-59 in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

The tally came after a three-hour floor session. The bill was expected to pass, and many legislators wanted to put their mark on the historic moment with a few words.

SEE ALSO:
When will gay marriage be legal in Minnesota?
House passes gay marriage bill
Gay marriage amendment defeated in Minnesota


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Minnesota Senate fights over clothing tax

Categories: Legislature

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Taxes Committee Chair Rod Skoe says the tax plan could help wipeout the state's deficit; Dayton won't support any hike on middle- or lower-income families.
The DFL-controlled Senate will take up its $1.9 billion tax plan this afternoon in what we expect will be a grueling debate that could last well into the evening.

Among the most contentious proposals: repealing the state's tax exemption on clothing.

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Spinal cord bill dead in House and Senate

Categories: Legislature

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Photo: Tony Nelson for City Pages
Rodreick is already planning to reintroduce the bill next year.
It's been a frustrating week for Matthew Rodreick.

Committees in the House and Senate have released their budgets for health and human services programs, and a bill that would fund curative spinal cord injury research in Minnesota is absent from both. Rodreick originally brought the idea for the bill to Senate chief author Jeff Hayden, and has tirelessly lobbied for it over the past few months, even releasing a documentary to draw public support that featured Vikings punter Chris Kluwe spending a day in a wheelchair.

SEE ALSO:
COVER: Stalking the Blue Demon
Spinal cord bill supporters make final plea to legislators

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Spinal cord bill supporters make final plea to legislators

Categories: Legislature
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Photo: Tony Nelson.
Matthew and Gabe Rodreick posing for our January feature.
For supporters of a bill that would fund progressive spinal cord research in Minnesota, these next few days will be crucial in convincing legislators that their cause is worthy enough to make the cut.

As of this morning, the bill -- known as the Jack Jablonski/Gabe Rodreick Bill, after two young Minnesotans who suffered life-changing spinal cord injuries -- is not included in the Health and Human Services Finance budget in the House, authored by committee chair Rep. Tom Huntley, D-Duluth.

SEE ALSO:
Cover: Stalking the Blue Demon
Spinal cord injury bill passes first hurdle

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