Minnesota lawmakers and task force seek answers on medical marijuana prices

Some state lawmakers and members of the Medical Marijuana Task Force intend to ask the two companies licensed by the state to sell medical marijuana products, Green Goods and Rise, to explain pricing for their upgraded list of products.

Lawmakers approved the use of marijuana flower in the state’s medical marijuana program with the goal of reducing the overall costs of products, which are now used by nearly 40,000 people registered in the program.  Flower became available to patients March 1.

But some patients told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the costs of the oil and topical creams they were using before March have remained the same. Stefanie Mulrooney told KSTP she spends about $300 a month on her vape oils and topical creams which, she said, is expensive and tough on her monthly budget.

“The vapes, capsules, topicals and everything else I use has stayed the same price pretty much since I started using them a few years ago,” said Mulrooney.

Patrick McClellan told KSTP he has multiple sclerosis and uses vape oils, too, and said their price has not changed since March 1 and would like both companies to explain their pricing to the public.

“I think we were lied to,” said McClellan.  “They need to be held accountable and they actually need to lower the prices like they said they would.”

Dr. Kyle Kingsley, with Green Goods, told a Minnesota House committee in March, 2020, that his company was confident introducing flower would reduce prices overall in the program.

“Adding regulated flower products to the program would provide an immediate benefit to patients,” said Kingsley. “We estimate that many patients will be able to access the same level of medicinal plant content for approximately one-half to one-third the cost because medical cannabis in flower form does not require the extensive processing that the oil products require.”

Sen. Mark Koran(R), North Branch, said he and other lawmakers who sit on the Medical Marijuana Task Force are looking forward to hearing from the companies and hearing how they explain their pricing right now.

“The goal was when we added the leaf was to drop the costs you know 30 to 50 percent and so to bring them forward to determine where that is,” said Koran.

Dr. Kingsley declined an interview requested, but issued a statement to KSTP which said, in part, “We anticipated a significant decrease in the average cost of medical cannabis for our patients with the addition of flower in March and this has come to pass. Since the addition of flower, our patients have spent an average of 30% less per visit.”

The Medical Marijuana Task Force is set to meet at the state capitol sometime next week.  A specific date and time has not yet been announced.

2022 Prep Bowl to be held Friday, Saturday

The 2022 Prep Bowl will be held at U.S. Bank Stadium Friday and Saturday. You can watch all seven championship games live on 45TV and streaming on 45tv.com.

CLICK HERE FOR THE PREP45 LIVESTREAM

Here’s the schedule for the championship games:

Hundreds ticketed, towed during Twin Cities snow emergencies

Hundreds of people across the Twin Cities are picking up their cars from impound lots after leaving them on the street during city snow emergencies.

“I left my car outside last night and didn’t know there was a snow emergency,” Zachary Peterson, U of M student, said. Zachary Peterson was headed out the door to the University of Minnesota when he realized he wasn’t taking his car to class.

“I ended up having to hop on a train and do it that way. I was late. It screwed up my whole routine unfortunately,” Peterson said. Peterson’s car took a trip to the impound lot.

He just moved to St. Paul and said he didn’t know about the snow emergencies, but it’s a pricey mistake.

“$275 plus a parking ticket. As a college student that takes a little bit of a toll,” Peterson said.

In St. Paul, once a snow emergency is declared, the ticketing and towing starts that day at 9 p.m.

It lasts for 96 hours while the city plows clear the roads.

“Really the base complaint that we hear for emergencies is that people didn’t move their cars. So be a good neighbor and move your car,” said Lisa Hiebert, a St. Paul public information officer.

The city was busy all day, with 251 vehicles towed and 849 ticketed in St. Paul.

City officials said if drivers don’t move their cars, it becomes a problem for everyone.

“If the cars are parked, the plows will come down the middle of the street and it just pushes the snow into the parking lane. So that makes it harder for people to get out,” Hiebert said.

Keeping an eye on the signs could save you.

Night plow signs are on the streets to tell drivers where to park, but day plow routes are not marked by signs.

If night plow signs are not posted within the block, consider it a day plow route.

“I was dropping off two friends. Both of their cars got towed last night,” Jasmine Kelly, a Twin Cities resident, said.

Kelly was in their shoes last year when her car was towed during a snow emergency. She said sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

Here is a list of snow emergency locations, rules and different ways to sign up for text and email alerts in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

DNC set to decide on Minnesota moving up 2024 presidential nominating calendar

Rumors of Iowa’s death as the first-in-the-nation presidential nominating state have circulated for many years, but 2024 might be the year it actually happens.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) Rules and Bylaws Committee could vote on its 2024 presidential nomination calendar this Friday or Saturday.

“I think the chances are greater than ever that Iowa will not start the 2024 Democratic nomination process,” says Steven Schier, Carleton College political analyst.

The DNC is considering moving away from Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two states in the nomination process. Instead, its looking at states such as Minnesota, Michigan and Nevada.

“The DNC is choosing to move away from the Iowa-New Hampshire model,” Minnesota’s DFL Gov. Tim Walz said this week. “They’re small states. They’re predominantly white.”

Iowa Democrats also had significant issues tabulating the results of their 2020 caucuses, and it took days before a winner was declared. The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party resigned in the aftermath of those caucuses.

“In order to be an effective initial state in the process you need to run a clean process that gives you a quick result,” Schier says. “Iowa did not do that in 2020.”

It might have been the final straw for the DNC, which has considered moving the Iowa caucuses for several years. Gov. Walz sent a letter to the DNC recently making a pitch for Minnesota.

“We’re looking at a state that is more diverse,” he told reporters this week. “A state that is more moderate in size. Not too large and one in the Midwest, and especially now one that has proven progressive values can win statewide.”

But Schier says the DFL’s recent success in Minnesota elections could actually hurt in some ways. “Often the party likes to start its early delegate selection in swing states and competitive states,” he says. “Minnesota’s been the most Democratic state in presidential elections since 1972.”

If the DNC moves the Minnesota primary up on the calendar it could mean the Democrats and Republicans will have Minnesota primaries on different days.

Under current state law, Democrats and Republicans in Minnesota have to agree on a single date. However, Democrats — who now control the Minnesota Governor’s Office, House and Senate — have signaled they could change the law to allow the state primary to move up from the Super Tuesday March 5, 2024, date to sometime during the first week in February.

That could be a problem for Minnesota Republicans who have to abide by Republican National Committee rules.

“The Minnesota Republican Party has no objection in principle to moving the Presidential Preference Primary to an earlier date,” Minnesota Republican Party Chair David Hann said in a statement. “We do, however, need to comply with the National Republican Party Rules. While the DNC is currently debating their rules, the RNC rules process will not happen until 2024. Until that time, our current rules would remove about 75% of our National Convention Delegates if Minnesota were to choose to have an earlier Preference Primary. The Democrats are well aware of this.”

Hann goes on to say a vote by the DFL House and Senate with approval by the governor to unilaterally change their primary date would violate the spirit of the current law.

“I find it difficult to believe that the DFL would take such a blatantly partisan action designed to disenfranchise Republican voters in the next Presidential election and would hope they would be willing to work with the RNC on finding an acceptable compromise,” he said.

Schier says as it stands now, there’s little chance the RNC would agree to move up Minnesota on the calendar.

“The national Republican Party wants to stick with the current calendar with Iowa and New Hampshire going first,” Schier said. “They don’t want to move Minnesota to the front.”

If the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee approves a change in the nominating calendar this week, it would still need to be approved by the full DNC in January.

Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter, dies at 79

NEW YORK (AP) — Christine McVie, the British-born Fleetwood Mac vocalist, songwriter and keyboard player whose cool, soulful contralto helped define such classics as “You Make Loving Fun,” “Everywhere” and “Don’t Stop,” died Wednesday at age 79.

Her death was announced on the band’s social media accounts. No cause of death or other details were immediately provided, but a family statement said she “passed away peacefully at hospital this morning” with family around her after a “short illness.”

“A few hours ago I was told that my best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975, had passed away,” bandmate Stevie Nicks said in a handwritten note posted to Instagram.

She added that one song has been “swirling around” in her head since she found out McVie was sick, quoting the lyrics to HAIM’s “Hallelujah”: “I had a best friend/But she has come to pass.”

McVie was a steady presence and personality in a band known for its frequent lineup changes and volatile personalities — notably fellow singer-songwriters Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

Her death is the first among Fleetwood Mac’s most famous incarnation of McVie, Nicks, Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, Christine’s ex-husband. In recent years, the band had toured without Buckingham, who was kicked out in 2018 and replaced on stage by Mike Campbell and Neil Finn.

Fleetwood Mac started out as a London blues band in the 1960s, and evolved into one of the defining makers of 1970s California pop-rock, with the talents of McVie, Nicks and Buckingham anchored by the rhythm section of Fleetwood and John McVie. During its peak commercial years, from 1975-80, the band sold tens of millions of records and fascinated fans as it transformed personal battles into melodic, compelling songs. The McVies’ breakup — along with the split of Nicks and Buckingham — was famously documented on the 1977 release “Rumours,” among the bestselling albums of all time.

Everyone in the group played a distinctive role: Fleetwood and John McVie formed a deep and bluesy groove, Buckingham was the resident mad genius and perfectionist, Nicks the charismatic dramatist and idol to countless young women and Christine McVie the grounded counterpoint, her economy as a singer and player well suited to her birth surname: Perfect.

“I was supposedly like the Mother Teresa who would hang out with everybody or just try and (keep) everything nice and cool and relaxed,” she told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “But they were great people; they were great friends.”

Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, when at the ceremony they played McVie’s “Say You Love Me.” The group’s many other hit singles included Nicks’ “Dreams,” Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way” and McVie’s “Little Lies.” One of McVie’s most beloved works, the thoughtful ballad “Songbird,” was a showcase for her in concert and covered by Willie Nelson, among others.

The midtempo rocker “Don’t Stop,” inspired by the end of her marriage, would gain unexpected political relevance when Bill Clinton adopted the song — and its “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow” refrain — as a theme to his 1992 presidential run. The band, which had essentially stopped making albums at the time, reunited to perform at his inauguration gala.

McVie’s two marriages, to John McVie and Eduardo Quintela, both ended in divorce. Her boyfriends included the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, about whom she wrote “Only Over You.”

McVie, born Christine Anne Perfect in Bouth, Lancashire, came from a musical family. Her father was a violinist and music teacher and her grandfather played organ at Westminster Abbey. She had been playing piano since childhood, but set aside her classical training once she heard early rock records by Fats Domino and others.

While studying at the Moseley School of Art, she befriended various members of Britain’s emerging blues scene and, in her 20s, joined the band Chicken Shack as a singer and piano player. Among the rival bands she admired was Fleetwood Mac, which then featured the talents of blues guitarist Peter Green along with the rhythm section of Fleetwood and John McVie. By 1970, she had joined the group and married John McVie.

Few bands succeeded so well as Fleetwood Mac, which has sold well over 100 million records, against such long odds. Green was among the many performers who left the group, and at various times Fleetwood Mac seemed on the verge of ending, or fading away. It was rescued by unexpected returns and interventions and one of rock’s most fortuitous and lucrative hunches.

In the mid-1970s, Fleetwood Mac was down to just three members, Fleetwood and the two McVies. While spending time in Los Angeles, Fleetwood learned of a young duo from California, Buckingham and Nicks, that had recorded the little known album “Buckingham Nicks.” Impressed by their sound, he initially planned to ask just Buckingham to join, but the guitarist insisted the band also include Nicks, his girlfriend at the time.

The new lineup proved almost instantly magical. Nicks and Christine McVie formed a lasting friendship, agreeing that as two of the rare women in rock they would always stand up for each other. And the harmonies and music making of Nicks, Buckingham and Christine McVie insured that such albums as “Fleetwood Mac,” “Rumours” and “Mirage” had an enviable quality and variety of songwriting and vocal styles.

But the group’s overwhelming success also led to inevitable conflicts and the desire for solo work. Over the following decades, Nicks became a star in her own right. McVie released solo albums, including “Christine McVie” and “Christine Perfect,” as well as a 2017 collaboration with Buckingham, “Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie.”

Fleetwood and John McVie were there at the founding of Fleetwood Mac and were the only ones to remain all the way through. McVie departed in the 1990s, when she was seemingly done forever with the rock star life. By 2014, she had changed her mind.

“I just wanted to embrace being in the English countryside and not have to troop around on the road. I moved to Kent, and I loved being able to walk around the streets, nobody knowing who I was,” she said of her hiatus during a 2022 interview with the Guardian.

“Then of course I started to miss it. I called Mick and asked: ‘How would you feel about me coming back to the band?’” she said. “He got in touch with everybody and we had a band meeting over the phone and they all went: ‘Come baaaack!!’ I felt regenerated and I felt like writing again.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Vintage Dayton’s Holiday Show figurines on display in Edina

An Edina business owner is bringing back part of Minnesota Christmas past.

Vintage figurines from Dayton’s Holiday Show are on display at Douglas Flanders and Associates Gallery window at 50th and France.

The Hennepin Theatre Trust loaned five figurines to the store.

Gallery owner Douglas Flanders hopes next holiday several stores along 50th and France will display the iconic figurines in their windows.

“This is part of our history and there’s a whole generation of people coming up that I think can enjoy it,” Flanders said.

The Hennepin Theatre Trust is holding a fundraising effort to renovate and repair all their Dayton’s Holiday Show figurines.

Police warn of increase in robberies during meet-ups to buy, sell items

Police in the metro are warning about an increase in robberies involving in-person meet-ups for Facebook Marketplace and Craiglist purchases.

“It’s very sad. It’s sad that people are being targeted,” said Sgt. Mike Ernster, public information officer with St. Paul Police Department. “They go into a situation thinking they’re going to get a special gift for their family member and then end up not only without the gift, but without money, without a cell phone and going through the trauma of a robbery situation.”

The City of Minneapolis recently sent an email to residents, which said, in part:

“MPD has seen an increase in robberies associated with buying and selling items using social media such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. During an in-person meeting to complete the planned transaction, individuals have been robbed of the item being sold or the money being paid. In some cases, people have been shot.”

An in-person purchase turned deadly two weeks ago in Plymouth.

Investigators said 17 year old Yaseen Johnson met up with an online seller in a parking lot to purchase a pair of shoes and was shot in the head and chest.

Police are urging people to carefully consider where and how they schedule meet-ups with buyers and sellers online.

“Anytime anybody purchases anything online, there is a level of risk to it,” Ernster said. “People involved in these types of robberies are opportunistic and if they see an opportunity they can seize on, they’re going to take it.”

He recommends people meet at a police station or public area that is well lit.

“Bring another person, somebody to come with you, somebody you trust who that can be there to watch your back a little bit,” Ernster said.

He also warns to be wary of deals that seem ‘too good to be true.’

“Rather than a really good deal and being excited for the good deal, you should start to think about your personal safety and what this could mean,” Ernster said.

Police also recommend using a payment app instead of bringing money with you.

Many cities have their own ‘safe swap’ locations. Here is a list of some across the metro:

MDH to allow medical marijuana treatment for 2 new conditions

More Minnesotans will soon be able to qualify for the state’s medical marijuana program thanks to two new additions to the program’s qualifying medical conditions list.

Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced that it will add irritable bowel syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder to the list of conditions covered by the medical cannabis program.

Those conditions will officially be added on Aug. 1, 2023, per state law, but patients certified with those conditions will be able to start enrolling in the program on July 1.

“We are adding the new qualifying conditions to allow patients more therapy options for conditions that can be debilitating,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement.

MDH says irritable bowel syndrome can create abdominal pain, irregular bowel movements or bloating. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by recurring, intrusive thoughts that often can cause significant emotional distress and anxiety.

A total of 17 other conditions are currently covered by the program. Click here to see the full list. Patients with any of those conditions are able to receive medical marijuana.

The two new additions come after a formal petition process to solicit public input. While no petitions for new delivery methods were submitted this year, the department opted to approve the two previously mentioned conditions over some other disorders that were petitioned.

RELATED: Advocates say legalized marijuana could help Minnesota medical cannabis program

Those denied included gastroparesis and opioid use disorder. MDH says gastroparesis research shows cannabis can make the condition worse, and medical and mental health providers recommended against approving opioid use disorder because of that lack of evidence that cannabis helps.

Records show nearly 40,000 people participate in the medical marijuana program, which was signed into law in 2014 and officially started the following year with nine qualified conditions. The commissioner of health weighs new additions and updated delivery methods each year.

House votes to avert rail strike, impose deal on unions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House moved urgently to head off the looming nationwide rail strike on Wednesday, passing a bill that would bind companies and workers to a proposed settlement that was reached in September but rejected by some of the 12 unions involved.

The measure passed by a vote of 290-137 and now heads to the Senate. If approved there, it will be signed by President Joe Biden, who urged the Senate to act swiftly.

“Without the certainty of a final vote to avoid a shutdown this week, railroads will begin to halt the movement of critical materials like chemicals to clean our drinking water as soon as this weekend,” Biden said. “Let me say that again: without action this week, disruptions to our auto supply chains, our ability to move food to tables, and our ability to remove hazardous waste from gasoline refineries will begin.”

Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Farm Bureau Federation have warned that halting rail service would cause a devastating $2 billion per day hit to the economy.

The bill would impose a compromise labor agreement brokered by the Biden administration that was ultimately voted down by four of the 12 unions representing roughly 115,000 employees at large freight railroads. The unions have threatened to strike if an agreement can’t be reached before a Dec. 9 deadline.

Lawmakers from both parties expressed reservations about overriding the negotiations. The intervention was particularly difficult for Democratic lawmakers who have traditionally sought to align themselves with the politically powerful labor unions that criticized Biden’s move to intervene in the contract dispute and block a strike.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to that concern by adding a second vote Wednesday that would add seven days of paid sick leave per year for rail workers covered under the agreement. However, it will take effect only if the Senate goes along and passes both measures. The House passed the sick leave measure as well, but by a much narrower margin, 221-207, as Republicans overwhelmingly opposed it, indicating that prospects for passage of the add-on are slim in the evenly divided Senate.

Business groups and the Association of American Railroads trade association praised the House vote to block the strike but urged senators to resist adding sick time to the deal.

“Unless Congress wants to become the de facto endgame for future negotiations, any effort to put its thumb on the bargaining scale to artificially advantage either party, or otherwise obstruct a swift resolution, would be wholly irresponsible,” said Ian Jefferies, head of the AAR.

On the other hand, the Transportation Trades Department labor coalition that includes all the rail unions praised the vote to add sick time and told lawmakers who voted against it they had “abandoned your working class constituents.”

The focus now turns to the Senate where the timing for a vote is unclear. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will meet with Democratic senators Thursday to discuss the rail negotiations. Some Democrats are insistent that the Senate vote on providing seven days of paid sick leave.

“A multibillion-dollar industry that is engaged in buybacks, that has doubled its profit margins during the pandemic should not be able to force its workers to come in when they are sick and injured,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

But most Republicans are reluctant to alter the tentative settlement reached in September.

“I think it’s a bad precedent for us to get into the nuances and details of things like this that have been negotiated for three years,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

The call for paid sick leave was a major sticking point in the talks along with other quality-of-life concerns. The railroads say the unions have agreed in negotiations over the decades to forgo paid sick time in favor of higher wages and strong short-term disability benefits.

Jefferies said Tuesday that railroads would consider adding paid sick time in the future, but said that change should wait for a new round of negotiations.

The unions maintain that railroads can easily afford to add paid sick time at a time when they are recording record profits. Several of the big railroads involved in these contract talks reported more than $1 billion profit in the third quarter.

“Quite frankly, the fact that paid leave is not part of the final agreement between railroads and labor is, in my opinion, obscene,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

Most rail workers don’t receive any paid sick time, but they do have short-term disability benefits that kick in after as little as four days and can replace some of their income for a year or more. Rail workers also receive vacation and personal leave days, but workers say it’s difficult to use those for illnesses because they must typically be approved far ahead of time.

In the House, Republicans voiced support for the measure to block the strike, but criticized the Biden administration for turning to Congress to “step in to fix the mess.” Some 79 Republicans voted with the overwhelming majority of Democrats for the bill binding the parties to the tentative settlement.

But Republicans criticized Pelosi’s decision to add the sick leave bill to the mix, and only three of them voted for that resolution. They said the Biden administration’s own special board of arbitrators recommended higher wages to compensate the unions for not including sick time in its recommendations.

“Why do we even have the system set up the way it is if Congress is going to come in and make changes to all of the recommendations?” said Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo.

Pelosi sought to position Democrats and the Biden administration as defenders of unions, but she said Congress needed to intervene to avoid a strike.

“Families wouldn’t be able to buy groceries or life-saving medications because it would be even more expensive and perishable goods would spoil before reaching shelves,” Pelosi said.

The compromise agreement that was supported by the railroads and a majority of the unions provides for 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses retroactive to 2020 along with one additional paid leave day. The raises would be the biggest rail workers have received in more than four decades. Workers would have to pay a larger share of their health insurance costs, but their premiums would be capped at 15% of the total cost of the insurance plan. The agreement did not resolve workers’ concerns about schedules that make it hard to take a day off and the lack of more paid sick time.

On several past occasions, Congress has intervened in labor disputes by enacting legislation to delay or prohibit railway and airline strikes.

___

Funk reported from Omaha, Nebraska.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Rescued Ukrainian lion cubs arrive in Minnesota

A month after announcing plans to bring four rescued lion cubs to a Minnesota animal rescue, the cubs have officially arrived at their new home.

The Wildcat Sanctuary, in Sandstone, announced the cubs’ arrival on Wednesday.

The cubs — 4-month-old females Stefania and Lesya, 4-month-old male Taras and 6-month-old female Prada — have been spending the past few weeks at Poland’s Poznan Zoo after they were rescued from war-torn Ukraine last month.

They were given their names by those in Ukraine who helped get the cubs out, and that’s what their names will be in Minnesota.

“These cubs have endured more in their short lives than any animal should,” Meredith Whitney, the wildlife rescue program manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said.

Working with IFAW, The Wildcat Sanctuary was able to get the necessary permits and arranged to bring the cubs to Sandstone, where the cubs will now be able to live together in an environment designed specially for lions.

Whitney said the cubs were surrendered by owners in Ukraine after the power was knocked out by airstrikes.

The cubs need a special formula every three hours, and a rescuer had to use his arms and legs to warm their milk bottles.

“We’ve cared for 300 big cats at TWS and are acutely aware of the trauma many big cats around the world experience,” Tammy Thies, founder and executive director of The Wildcat Sanctuary, said. “From the moment IFAW reached out to request our partnership, we knew these cubs had found their forever home at our sanctuary. They have a custom, open space to explore and indoor comfy rooms where they can rest their tired bodies after their long journey.”

The cubs officially landed in Minnesota on Tuesday after a 12.5-hour flight. Tammy and her team then drove the lions back to the sanctuary, which is home to more than 100 big cats from around the globe.

For now, the lion cubs will stay inside, before exploring their new snowy home on the Pride Prairie in the coming days.

The Wildcat Sanctuary says anyone wanting to help provide care for the cubs can do so by becoming a sponsor parent or making a donation online.

Lake Superior trout fishing season kicks off Thursday in Minnesota, Wisconsin

Lake Superior’s trout fishing season opens Thursday for Minnesotans and Wisconsinites.

Anyone who wants to fish for trout there from Dec. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023 – or until the harvest cap is met – should brush up on regulations and make sure they are properly licensed.

People from either state must possess a valid fishing license and buy a trout and salmon stamp before they go. One must possess a valid Minnesota license on Minnesota-allocated Lake Superior waters, and vice versa for Wisconsin.

One exception pertains to tributaries of the largest of the Great Lakes: A Minnesota license is acceptable on the St. Louis River Estuary, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Depending on where a person fishes, their lake trout bag limit will vary. The limit is three lake trout for Wisconsin Western Arm waters, two lake trout for Wisconsin Apostle Islands waters, and three lake trout for Minnesota North Shore waters, according to Minnesota and Wisconsin DNR guidelines.

The Wisconsin DNR says this trout season will be the last season under the current quota for the Apostle Islands region, although the department says it has not yet decided on the quota for next season.

No one from either state is allowed to fish from certain sanctuary spaces, including the French, Knife, Lester, Devil Track and Kadunce rivers, as well as Gauthier Creek.

Find all Minnesota rules and regulations in the Minnesota DNR’s 2022 guide. Lake Superior information can be found on pages 26-28 of the guide. Find Wisconsin information on the Wisconsin DNR’s page for Lake Superior fishing.

Want to learn more about lake trout populations? Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

PHOTOS: Roads remain slick and snow-packed Wednesday, blustery day ahead after snowfall

Although snow is no longer falling – save for a few morning flurries – people should still prepare for slick main roads, snow-packed residential roads and lingering snowplows as snow emergencies continue in some cities.

Find out the time frame for your city’s snow emergency HERE, and if your city has not declared a snow emergency, you can still click the link to find out if your city has snow parking instructions. You may need to keep your vehicle off the streets a while longer or move your vehicle to a different side of the road, depending on where you live.

A City of Minneapolis representative tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the city issued 770 tickets and towed 220 vehicles during the first day of its snow emergency.

In St. Paul, city officials say 849 citations were issued, and 251 vehicles were towed.

RELATED: NWS: Minneapolis-St. Paul area hit with 8.4 inches of snow

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Chief Meteorologist Ken Barlow says the affliction of the day will be high winds at 35-40 mph, which is likely to cause blowing snow.

Temperatures are expected to remain cold and drop into Wednesday night, eventually hitting a low of 8 degrees with a windchill in the zero-to-5-degrees-below-zero range.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS traffic reporter Hanna Conway says roads are still slick in many places. People should continue to drive slowly, watch for packed snow and ice, and steer clear of snowplows as workers hit less-traveled streets.

In the 24 hours from 6 a.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday, there were 408 crashes on Minnesota state highways, according to reports posted on Twitter by Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Gordon Shank. As of Wednesday morning, the Wisconsin State Patrol has not posted total numbers on Twitter.

The breakdown is as follows: 139 crashes from 6-10 a.m. Tuesday, 169 crashes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, 79 crashes from 4-9 p.m. Tuesday, and 21 crashes from 9 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Those Minnesota crashes resulted in 42 injuries, but Shank says none were life-threatening.

These totals exclude crashes that happened on city streets, as those reports would be handled by individual city agencies.

RELATED: ‘Saintly City Snow Angels’ volunteer to clear sidewalks for St. Paul residents

Click here for the latest forecast. Click here for any lingering school delays. Click here for traffic news.

KSTP wants to see your first snowstorm photos! SEND THEM HERE for a chance to be featured below.

Jeffries wins historic bid to lead House Dems after Pelosi

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats ushered in a new generation of leaders on Wednesday with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries elected to be the first Black American to head a major political party in Congress at a pivotal time as long-serving Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team step aside next year.

Showing rare party unity after their midterm election losses, the House Democrats moved seamlessly from one history-making leader to another, choosing the 52-year-old New Yorker, who vowed to “get things done” in the new Congress, even after Republicans won control of the chamber. The closed-door vote was unanimous, by acclamation.

“We stand on their collective broad shoulders,” Jeffries said afterward of Pelosi and her team.

“The best thing that we can do as a result of the seriousness and solemnity of the moment,” he had said earlier, “is lean in hard and do the best damn job that we can for the people.”

It’s rare that a party that lost the midterm elections would so easily regroup and stands in stark contrast with the upheaval among Republicans, who are struggling to unite around GOP leader Kevin McCarthy as the new House speaker as they prepare to take control when the new Congress convenes in January.

Wednesday’s internal Democratic caucus votes of Jeffries and the other top leaders came without challengers. Cheers broke out in the private meeting, where typically contested party elections unfolded instead like church service, a call-and-response affirming Democrats’ confidence in their choices, some in the room said.

The trio led by Jeffries, who will become the Democratic minority leader in the new Congress, includes 59-year-old Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts as the Democratic whip and 43-year-old Rep. Pete Aguilar of California as caucus chairman. The new team of Democratic leaders is expected to slide into the slots held by Pelosi and her top lieutenants — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina — as the 80-something leaders make way for the next generation.

But in many ways, the trio has been transitioning in plain sight, as one aide put it — Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar working with Pelosi’s nod these past several years in lower-rung leadership roles as the first woman to have the speaker’s gavel prepared to step down. Pelosi, of California, has led the House Democrats for the past 20 years, and colleagues late Tuesday granted her the honorific title of “speaker emerita.”

“It an important moment for the caucus — that there’s a new generation of leadership,” said Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., ahead of voting.

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri called the leadership election “historic” and a “time for change.”

While Democrats will be relegated to the House minority in the new year for the 118th Congress, they will have a certain amount of leverage because the Republican majority is expected to be so slim and McCarthy’s hold on his party fragile.

The House’s two new potential leaders, Jeffries and McCarthy, are of the same generation but have almost no real relationship to speak of — in fact, the Democrat is known for leveling political barbs at the Republican from afar, particularly over the GOP’s embrace of former President Donald Trump. Jeffries served as a House manager during Trump’s first impeachment.

Jeffries said Wednesday he will work with Republicans “whenever possible but we will also push back against extremism whenever necessary.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Jeffries will have a partner in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as two New Yorkers are poised to helm the Democratic leadership in Congress. They live about a mile (1.6 kilometers) apart in Brooklyn.

“There are going to be a group, in my judgment, of mainstream Republicans who are not going to want to go in the MAGA direction, and Hakeem’s the ideal type guy to work with them,” Schumer said in an interview, referencing Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Clark, elected for the No. 2 spot, extended the invitation to Republicans to work with Democrats on bipartisan projects.

“Our door is open for any member from across the aisle who wants to get to work for the American people,” she said.

At the same time Aguilar, the third-ranking member, said Democrats emerged from the narrow midterm election with a mandate: “What we’re fighting against is this MAGA extremism” that has captured the right flank of Trump’s party.

Jeffries has sometimes been met with skepticism from party progressives, viewed as a more centrist figure among House Democrats.

But Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., a progressive and part of the “squad” of liberal lawmakers, said she has been heartened by the way Jeffries and his team are reaching out, even though they face no challengers.

“There’s a genuine sense that he wants to develop relationships and working partnerships with many of us,” she said.

Clyburn, now the highest-ranking Black American in Congress, is seeking to become the assistant Democratic leader, keeping a seat at the leadership table and helping the new generation to transition.

But Clyburn faces an unexpected challenge from Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., who is openly gay and argued Wednesday in a letter to colleagues that House Democrats should “fully respect the diversity of our caucus and the American people by including an LGBTQ+ member at the leadership table.”

After Wednesday’s hugging and high-fives, the elections Thursday for the assistant leader post and several others are expected to be more divisive.

Jeffries’ ascent comes as a milestone for Black Americans, the Capitol built with the labor of enslaved people and its dome later expanded during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency as a symbol the nation would stand during the Civil War.

His Brooklyn-area district was once represented by Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, and he noted that she was born on the same day as his election, Nov. 30, in 1924.

Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton called Jeffries’ elevation a “long overdue moment in America,” noting that “another barrier to equal representation has come down.”

Pelosi and Hoyer plan to remain in office, an unusual but not unprecedented arrangement that Jeffries called a “blessing” the new leaders can seek their counsel.

While the House Democrats are a big, diverse and often “noisy” group, Jeffries said it’s a good thing, and representative of the House as “the institution closest to the people.”

“At the end of the day, we always come together, find the highest common denominator and get the things done everyday Americans,” he said.

___

Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Michelle L. Price and Aaron Morrison in New York contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that Jeffries is age 52, not 57.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

MNA holds strike authorization vote Wednesday

Wednesday, 15,000 nurses from hospitals in the Twin Cities and Duluth areas are voting whether to authorize a second strike.

This vote comes after members of the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) walked off the job for three days back in September.

The MNA says at this point, there’s been little to no movement at the bargaining table, which is why members are considering striking again.

If two-thirds of union nurses vote in favor of a strike, pickets could begin after a 10-day notice to employers. Nurses have until 10 p.m. Wednesday to vote.

According to the MNA, they will announce any decision regarding a strike Thursday morning.

This would affect nurses at M Health Fairview, Essentia Health, Health Partners, Allina Health, Children’s Minnesota, North Memorial and St. Luke’s.

Nurses are asking for better wages and a safer working environment. Leaders say this is also about ensuring patient safety, adding hospitals can’t continue to operate the way they are.

During a news conference Wednesday morning, MNA leaders described most units across the metro as short-staffed, with nurses often working 16-hour shifts.

This comes as the state sees a spike in respiratory illnesses, and nurses say that’s having a huge impact on emergency departments (ED).

“The ED is a disaster zone. They are working sometimes with only 4-5 nurses, and they have a waiting room of 75 kids… leaving just a few rooms to shuffle the dozens and dozens of patients that are waiting for a room,” said Amy McGlone, a Registered Nurse at Children’s St. Paul.

Nurses described the emergency departments at Minnesota Hospitals as “war zones”, with six to eight hour wait times and patients scattered across the hospitals, waiting in cafeterias and conference rooms for beds.

“This fight is as much for you and for your loved ones and your livelihoods as it is for us and for our families, our loved ones and our livelihoods, that we’re doing this so when you come to a Minnesota hospital, you can expect the quality care that used to exist,” said Annas, a Registered Nurse at Abbott Northwestern.

Allina Health issued the following statement on negotiations:

Throughout Allina Health’s negotiations with Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), our message has remained the same: an agreement can only be reached by being at the bargaining table together.

Our nurses are an integral part of our care teams, and we are grateful for their ongoing dedication and expertise. We have always valued their perspective and involvement in key operational decisions. We have worked to find alignment on a number of priority issues and are narrowing the gap on our wage proposals. MNA is now seeking a 22.5% wage increase over the three years of the contract and we have increased our wage proposal to 13.25% over three years.

A strike or even the threat of a strike creates an unnecessary distraction for our employees and the communities we serve. With escalating illness and increased needs for care, our community is counting on all of us to provide the exceptional care they expect from Allina Health. We believe that a settlement is attainable and urge MNA to focus its energy on bringing these negotiations to conclusion rather than asking its members to consider another strike that our community can simply not afford. We are hopeful to continue to make meaningful progress at our next negotiation session this Friday, Dec. 2, as it is our desire to reach a fair contract settlement and return our sole focus to our shared mission: caring for our patients.

Allina Health

Essentia Health says it reached a tentative agreement with MNA nurses in Moose Lake Tuesday, and they will be back at the bargaining table Friday for nurses in Duluth and Superior.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to other hospital groups for comment and is still waiting to hear back. This article will be updated with their responses as they become available.

“I’ll tell you what, there’s no doubt that the nurses and the job that we do at the bedside is the best thing about health care right now in this country, and they’re throwing it away with two hands,” said MNA President Mary Turner during a news conference earlier this month.

Union leaders spoke about the vote Wednesday morning at their headquarters in St. Paul. You can view that full news conference below.

NWS: Minneapolis-St. Paul area hit with 8.4 inches of snow

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is tracking the effects of heavy snow moving through the metro area. Throughout the day, refresh this page to make sure you are seeing the latest updates. Click here if you are using the KSTP app.


9:25 p.m.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported another 79 crashes across the state between 4 and 9 p.m., including four with injury. There were also 81 spinouts and 16 jackknifed semis.

In total, the State Patrol has recorded 387 crashes since 6 a.m., 38 of which resulted in injuries. A total of 285 vehicle spinouts and 33 jackknifed semis were reported across that 15-hour span.

Authorities say none of the crashes have involved serious injuries.


6:45 p.m.

National Weather Service Twin Cities reported that the Minneapolis-St. Paul area got 8.4 inches of snow.


5:30 p.m.

Some buses from St. Paul Public Schools are running late, a representative from the district told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. Buses are averaging 15-20 minutes late, but a few are up to 90 minutes late, the district said.

“District staff are all hands on deck and working to get kids home as quickly and safely as possible,” the district said.

As of 5:40 p.m., the district said there were still buses on the road bringing students home from 4 p.m. dismissal schools.

Pictured below is the principal and staff of The Heights Community School shoveling out a bus that was stuck in the snow.

Photo is courtesy of St. Paul Public Schools, taken by teacher Erika Berg

4:30 p.m.

Most significant snowfall west of I-35 has ended, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS meteorologist Wren Clair reports, but snow is still in place in the East Metro for the next hour. Driving conditions are still expected to be difficult.

Most of the metro is seeing between 4-6 inches of snow.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has re-opened its first runway. Runways had been closed for around two hours.


3:30 p.m.

National Weather Service Twin Cities posted an interactive map, showing that Minneapolis has gotten 3.2 inches of snow and many of the cities in the area have gotten between 4-6 inches. Information was not yet available for St. Paul


2:30 p.m.

With snowfall continuing, a slow-moving evening commute is expected.

Meteorologist Wren Clair reports many roads as of early afternoon were either covered, or partially covered, by snow.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has closed its runways until at least 4 p.m. due to snowy conditions.


1:30 p.m.

Snowfall continues Tuesday afternoon and the number of snow emergencies in cities throughout the state is ramping up.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have now both declared snow emergencies.

Meteorologist Chris Reece reports a band of heavy snow is parked over the metro area and is expected to remain for a few hours.

Meanwhile, Metro Transit reports roughly 47% of buses are currently delayed an average of nine minutes. The Blue Line was slightly delayed as crews worked to remove a stuck vehicle on the light rail tracks.


10:15 a.m.

Multiple schools are closing early Tuesday as it becomes clear the snow isn’t letting up.

At a slower rate, cities have been declaring snow emergencies and giving their residents instructions for parking and avoiding snowplows.

Visit the following links for lists of SCHOOL CLOSURES and CITY ALERTS, and find more helpful links and features throughout the article below.

Roads started out fine for early commuters but quickly became littered with crashes, which KSTP reporters Hanna Conway and Ginna Roe have monitored throughout the morning. Scroll through the updates below for a recap of Tuesday’s weather and traffic conditions.

Around 10 a.m., the Minnesota State Patrol released its highway crash numbers for the 6-10 a.m. range. Lt. Gordon Shank says the agency handled 139 crashes during that time frame, and luckily, zero deaths.

Stay with KSTP for all you need to know as the bout of winter weather continues.


9 a.m.

Traffic has slowed down substantially since traffic reporter Hanna Conway began monitoring roads Tuesday morning, as shown in the side-by-side comparison below.

Many crashes and slippery conditions have led to delays and lane closures. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety advised people to work remotely if possible and highlighted the snow driving tips below if people don’t have the option to work from home.

Additionally, Metro Transit has been tweeting about delays of some of its transportation services.


7 a.m.

Road conditions keep getting worse, and reporter Hanna Conway has started reporting crashes in the metro.

See live road conditions in the player at the top of this article, and find more traffic and weather information below.


6 a.m.

In her most recent Live Drive update, reporter Ginna Roe says roads are already slick. Roe says she has already seen some cars slide off the roadway.

Reporter Hanna Conway says traffic is starting to slow down in some areas, but as of 6 a.m., the metro is crash-free.

Chief Meteorologist Ken Barlow says that could change as snow continues falling.


5 a.m.

Winter storm warnings are in effect through 9 p.m. Tuesday for parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and meteorologists are predicting 4-7 inches of snow by the evening.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporters Ginna Roe and Hanna Conway are providing traffic updates throughout the morning Tuesday to help people stay as safe as possible during their morning commute. As of 5 a.m., roads are looking clear, but snow is already falling in some metro cities.

Some schools are also deciding to close for the day or have an e-learning day. CLICK HERE for an updated list.

The bulk of the snowfall Tuesday is expected in the morning and early afternoon.

Even though snow will taper off eventually, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Chief Meteorologist Ken Barlow says roads could still be messy late Tuesday night.

People should also prepare for cold air, as wind chills could drop between zero- and -5-degrees Tuesday night.

Find the most recent weather advisories HERE. Visit the KSTP meteorologist team for comprehensive winter weather reports. Review winter weather safety tips HERE.

Click HERE or keep scrolling for more traffic information.

Man found guilty of attempting to murder MPD forensic scientist

A man was found guilty of trying to have a Minneapolis Police Department forensic scientist killed after a shooting on April 20 left her critically injured.

Timothy Allen Amacher, 41, was found guilty on charges of premeditated attempted first-degree murder and aiding an offender. His sentencing date has not yet been set.

The shooting victim, Nicki Lenway, has a child with Amacher and was shot on her way to pick the child up.

A suspected accomplice, 24-year-old Colleen Purificacion Larson, was also arrested in connection to the shooting. Investigators believe that Larson, who is in a relationship with Amacher, fired the shots that struck the scientist.

Larson’s jury trial is set to begin on Jan. 23, 2023.

Lenway suffered gunshot wounds to the arm and neck as well as internal injuries that include a perforated lung, but she survived.

RELATED: 2 charged with attempted murder after shooting critically hurts forensic scientist

The shooting happened just after 7:30 p.m. on April 20, near the intersection of Malcolm and University Avenues southeast outside of the Family Wise family support center.

Court documents state that Amacher was inside the Family Wise family support center with his and Lenway’s child when the shots were fired.

Larson denied having any involvement and said she was at home in St. Paul at the time of the shooting.

A criminal complaint states that investigators got a search warrant for Amacher’s home and found several discharged .380 cartridge cases. The Hennepin County Crime Lab determined that they were fired from the same gun as the .380 discharged cartridge cases at the scene of the shooting.

Amacher initially denied the Dodge Ram at the scene of the shooting was his. During the same interview, when asked what guns he owns, he did not mention a .380 but when pressed, said he used to have two .380 pistols.

Investigators also uncovered a history of harassment and domestic violence by Amacher toward Lenway over the past few years. There have been 10 reports made by Amacher to police claiming that Lenway was abusing their child with her boyfriend. The reports were deemed unfounded, and the child later told a social worker that Amacher instructed the child to lie.

The criminal complaint also states that Amacher offered $50,000 to a friend in exchange for killing Lenway. This was reportedly corroborated by multiple witnesses and phone records.

Minnesota DFL to reintroduce gun control legislation in January

When the Minnesota Legislature convenes in January, House Democrats plan to reintroduce a Red Flag bill and a separate bill that would require criminal background checks for all firearm transfers and sales.

Rep. Dave Pinto, (DFL) St. Paul, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS his background check bill would require anyone purchasing a gun to have a criminal background check done by the local law enforcement agency where the sale is taking place, but it would also have exceptions for the transfer of guns between immediate family members.

“We have background checks on all gun sales and this would require them on all gun sales,” said Pinto. “Immediate family members, siblings, spouses, parents, grandparents, the background check would not apply. But, if you have a second cousin, you may not know about that person’s criminal record.”

Rob Doar, with the Minnesota Gun Caucus, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the criminal background bill is too broad.

“It says all transfers. Now, if I were to loan you a firearm to go hunting for the weekend, that’s a transfer,” said Doar.  “If you need a gun for self-defense in your home and maybe you don’t have the funds and I have a spare one, that’s a transfer and we’ve have to go to a federally licensed dealer in order to process that transfer.”

Pinto said the Red Flag bill would allow a judge to temporarily take guns away from someone who has proven to be a danger to himself, or others.

“And, so it provides for a court process to be able do that,” said Pinto. “This is a mechanism that’s in use in other states around the country.

Doar said the bill does not allow the accused to have fair due process.

“We think, at the very least, there needs to be an adversarial hearing where the accused person has the right, and ability, to offer their defense and a counter-side to the story,” said Doar.

State lawmakers, in the past two legislative sessions, did not pass any gun control measures.

Snow blower repair shops are backed up as Minnesota is hit with snowstorm

Some snow blower repair shops are backed up in the Twin Cities as Minnesotans rush to prepare for the winter weather.

Cedar Small Engine Sales in Minneapolis makes big money on wintry days like this.

Customers are taking a trip to the store to repair an old snow blower or bring home a new one.

“I like the snow. I coach hockey and I’m a big fan of winter,” Burleigh Biel, customer, said.

But Biel isn’t a big fan of the clean-up.

“I don’t always love the removal portion of it,” he said.

Biel dug out his snow blower to battle the snow, but it was tapped out.

So he spent his Tuesday afternoon searching for a new one to bring home.

Micheal Scott, Cedar Small Engine Sales mechanic, kept tools in hand as the shop stayed buried in business.

“When you hit the snowfall, then you get the person that just wants to come in that day and wants it done,” Scott said. “We’re about a month and half behind.”

He said a common issue is owners are leaving gas in their snow blower too long and it damages the equipment.

“If you leave the old fuel in there, basically that’s going to gum up your carburetor and it will not run,” Scott said.

Molly Montana, customer, had to wait in line to get her snow blower fixed.

“He gave me some tips to make sure that I don’t have to come back,” she said. “I’m just dropping it off and I meant to bring it in a couple months ago.”

Montana may have to worry about her driveway, but MNDOT said the roads are in good hands.

“We have 200 plows in the metro and 400 drivers that keeps our plows on the roads 24 hours a day,” Anne Meyer, MNDOT spokesperson, said.

MNDOT calls this winter storm “challenging” because the snow is coming down faster than they can clear it.

“Nothing is instantaneous when we’re dealing with Mother Nature’s wrath as we are now,” Meyer said.

But some say finding the bright side of winter woes is in the DNA of Minnesotans.

“You’ve got to embrace it or it’s going to a long winter for you each year,” Biel said.

Experts encourage snow blower owners to use fuel without ethanol and to make sure to continue off-season maintenance so the blower is ready to use in the winter.

Landmark same-sex marriage bill wins Senate passage

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate passed bipartisan legislation Tuesday to protect same-sex marriages, an extraordinary sign of shifting national politics on the issue and a measure of relief for the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The bill, which would ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law, was approved 61-36 on Tuesday, including support from 12 Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the legislation was “a long time coming” and part of America’s “difficult but inexorable march towards greater equality.”

Democrats are moving quickly, while the party still holds the majority in both chambers of Congress. The legislation now moves to the House for a final vote, likely next week.

President Joe Biden praised the bipartisan vote and said he will sign the bill “promptly and proudly” if it is passed by the House. He said it will ensure that LGBTQ youth “will grow up knowing that they, too, can lead full, happy lives and build families of their own.”

The bill has gained steady momentum since the Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned the federal right to an abortion, a ruling that included a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested same-sex marriage could also come under threat. Bipartisan Senate negotiations got a kick-start this summer when 47 Republicans unexpectedly voted for a House bill and gave supporters new optimism.

The legislation would not force any state to allow same-sex couples to marry. But it would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed, and protect current same-sex unions, if the court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision were to be overturned. It’s a stunning bipartisan endorsement, and evidence of societal change, after years of bitter divisiveness on the issue.

A new law protecting same-sex marriages would also be a major victory for Democrats as they relinquish their two years of consolidated power in Washington, and a massive win for advocates who have been pushing for decades for federal legislation. It comes as the LGBTQ community has faced violent attacks, such as the shooting last weekend at a gay nightclub in Colorado that killed five people and injured at least 17.

“Our community really needs a win, we have been through a lot,” said Kelley Robinson, the incoming president of Human Rights Campaign, which advocates on LGBTQ issues. “As a queer person who is married, I feel a sense of relief right now. I know my family is safe.”

Robinson was in the Senate chamber for the vote with her wife, Becky, and toddler son. “It was more emotional than I expected,” she said.

The vote was personal for many senators, too. Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat who is the first openly gay senator and was the lead sponsor of the bill, tearfully hugged Schumer and others as the final vote was called. Baldwin, who has been working on gay rights issues for almost four decades, tweeted thanks to the same-sex and interracial couples who she said made the moment possible.

“By living as your true selves, you changed the hearts and minds of people around you,” she wrote.

Schumer said on Tuesday that he was wearing the tie he wore at his daughter’s wedding, “one of the happiest moments of my life.” He also recalled the “harrowing conversation” he had with his daughter and her wife in September 2020 when they heard that liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed away. “Could our right to marry be undone?” they asked at the time.

With conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett replacing Ginsburg, the court has now overturned Roe v. Wade and the federal right to an abortion, stoking fears about Obergefell and other rights protected by the court. But sentiment has shifted on same-sex marriage, with more than two-thirds of the public now in support.

Still, Schumer said it was notable that the Senate was even having the debate after years of Republican opposition. “A decade ago, it would have strained all of our imaginations to envision both sides talking about protecting the rights of same-sex married couples,” he said.

Passage came after the Senate rejected three Republican amendments to protect the rights of religious institutions and others to still oppose such marriages. Supporters of the legislation argued those amendments were unnecessary because the bill had already been amended to clarify that it does not affect rights of private individuals or businesses that are currently enshrined in law. The bill would also make clear that a marriage is between two people, an effort to ward off some far-right criticism that the legislation could endorse polygamy.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who has been lobbying his fellow GOP senators to support the legislation for months, pointed to the number of religious groups supporting the bill, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of those groups were part of negotiations on the bipartisan amendment.

“They see this as a step forward for religious freedom,” Tillis says.

The nearly 17-million member, Utah-based faith said in a statement this month that church doctrine would continue to consider same-sex relationships to be against God’s commandments.

Most Republicans still oppose the legislation, saying it is unnecessary and citing concerns about religious liberty. And some conservative groups stepped up opposition in recent weeks, lobbying Republican supporters to switch their votes.

“Marriage is the exclusive, lifelong, conjugal union between one man and one woman, and any departure from that design hurts the indispensable goal of having every child raised in a stable home by the mom and dad who conceived him,” the Heritage Foundation’s Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy, wrote in a recent blog post arguing against the bill.

In an effort to win the 10 Republican votes necessary to overcome a filibuster in the 50-50 Senate, Democrats delayed consideration until after the midterm elections, hoping that would relieve political pressure on GOP senators who might be wavering.

Eventual support from 12 Republicans gave Democrats the votes they needed.

Along with Tillis, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman supported the bill early on and have lobbied their GOP colleagues to support it. Also voting for the legislation were Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mitt Romney of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Just before passage, Collins thanked her fellow Republicans who supported it. “I know it has not been easy, but they have done the right thing,” Collins said.

Lummis, one of the more conservative members of the Senate, spoke ahead of the final vote about her “fairly brutal self soul searching” before supporting the bill. She said that she accepts her church’s beliefs that a marriage is between a man and a woman, but noted that the country was founded on the separation of church and state.

“We do well by taking this step, not embracing or validating each other’s devoutly held views, but by the simple act of tolerating them,” Lummis said.

Baldwin said earlier this month that the newfound openness from many Republicans on the subject reminds her “of the arc of the LBGTQ movement to begin with, in the early days when people weren’t out and people knew gay people by myths and stereotypes.”

“And slowly laws have followed,” she said. “It is history.”

___

Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

‘Saintly City Snow Angels’ volunteer to clear sidewalks for St. Paul residents

We all know shoveling snow can be a back-breaking job.

In the city of Saint Paul, you have 24 hours to shovel your sidewalk, but for some homeowners it’s a nearly impossible task to do on their own.

Now some volunteers are taking it upon themselves to help their neighbors.

The Facebook group called “Saintly City Snow Angels” helps those in Saint Paul who can’t shovel or afford to pay someone to clean their sidewalk connect with volunteers to do the job.

“We talk about how do we build stronger communities and sometimes that feels so big but it really isn’t,” said Seneca Krueger, a Saintly City Snow Angels volunteer. “It really is 10 minutes a day when the snow flies and that’s a really great place to start. It really is a great idea.”               

Saintly City Snow Angels is in need of volunteers.

If you live in St. Paul and need help shoveling or would like to volunteer, click here.