Minnesota Wants To Double Cig Tax
(AP) Two Republican lawmakers want Minnesota's cigarette tax to more than double as a way to deter smoking and to repay Minnesota schools for aid delays during recent state budgets. Sen. Carla Nelson and Rep. Mike Benson, both of Rochester, outlined the bill Monday that they will formally introduce later in the week. Nelson acknowledged it cuts against Republican anti-tax orthodoxy but says she hopes her party and the public will embrace it because of the intended purpose. Minnesota's current $1.23 cent per-pack tax currently ranks among the middle of all states. The bill would boost that to $2.52. By supporters' estimates, a higher tax would generate $320 million in the next two years. Nelson says the bill would make it less likely that price-conscious young people would start smoking.
Frontier Airlines To Cut Jobs
(AP) Frontier Airlines will cut nearly 500 Milwaukee area employees as part of a major service reduction in Milwaukee. Nearly half are flight crew members based at Mitchell International Airport. Those workers will be reassigned to bases outside Milwaukee. Frontier plans to make the job cuts in April, according to a filing Monday with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Denver-based Frontier has about 1,000 employees based in Milwaukee. Many of the flight crews don't live in the Milwaukee area. But other employees live in southeastern Wisconsin, including maintenance workers, gate agents and baggage handlers. The news comes just four days after Frontier announced it will eliminate five nonstop routes from Milwaukee. Those cuts will reduce daily departures out of Mitchell International from 32 to 18.
Changes Continue For Vikings Stadium
(AP) The Vikings say they have ``significant concerns'' with a new proposal to fund the $1 billion stadium in Arden Hills using user fees instead of a county food and liquor sales tax. The latest proposal from Ramsey County leaders would raise an estimated $20.6 million annually from parking fees, admissions surcharges and a stadium sales tax in addition to parking lot naming rights. Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley says Friday the prior agreement with Ramsey County hinged on the team receiving parking revenues and naming rights and a condition of no admissions taxes. Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett called the new plan a ``game changer'' after meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton. He later acknowledged that the Vikings may not like elements of the new plan.
Teacher Bill Passes Minnesota House
(AP) The Minnesota House has unanimously passed a bill that would require teachers to pass a basic skills test before getting a teacher's license. Republican bill sponsor Andrea Kieffer says the legislation would keep unqualified teachers out of the classroom.
Current law allows teachers to hold a provisional license for three years while continuing to retake the test. The companion bill hasn't received a vote in the full Senate. Gov. Mark Dayton has not yet taken a public stance on the bill.
GOP On Recalls
(AP) The Republican leader of the state Senate says he expects recall elections to proceed against three of his colleagues, despite challenges they have made to thousands of signatures on petitions seeking their ouster from office. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Friday he is hopeful, though, that his election can be blocked through the challenges he made to the Government Accountability Board on Thursday. Fitzgerald was the only one of the four who clearly challenged more than enough signatures to void an election. But whether to reject the signatures is up to the GAB. Its deadline for deciding is March 19. The other senators are Pam Galloway of Wausau, Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls and Van Wanggaard of Racine.