Daily Digest: Surveying Minnesotans

Good morning and welcome to Monday and the start of another work week. Here’s the Digest.

1. Minnesotans are sharply divided on many issues by politics, geography, race and education – but feel overwhelmingly hopeful about the state’s future. That’s a key finding of a new public opinion survey of 1,600 Minnesota residents conducted this fall by MPR News and the APM Research Lab.  The survey found most Minnesotans  feel the state is overall on the right track. There’s still plenty of division, of course: immigration, taxes and Donald Trump are among many issues putting stress on Minnesota Nice. Some of this reflects politics, as Democrats increasingly cluster in the metro and Republicans in rural and exurban areas. But other parts of the divide reflect different ways of seeing the world. (MPR News)

2. Every year, hundreds of residents at senior care centers around the state are assaulted, raped or robbed in crimes that leave lasting trauma and pain for the victims and their families. Yet the vast majority of these crimes are never resolved, and the perpetrators never punished, because state regulators lack the staff and expertise to investigate them. And thousands of complaints are simply ignored. State records examined by the Star Tribune show the scale of the failure. Last year alone, the Minnesota Department of Health received 25,226 allegations of neglect, physical abuse, unexplained serious injuries, and thefts in state-licensed homes for the elderly. Ninety-seven percent were never investigated. (Star Tribune)

3. Minnesota House leaders plan to hire an outside firm to conduct an investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against GOP Rep. Tony Cornish. Cornish faces accusations he propositioned a lobbyist and sent text messages commenting on a DFL lawmaker’s body. Cornish has denied harassing anyone. On Friday, former Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he warned Cornish years ago about his behavior. Cornis has been stripped of his committee chairmanship while the investigation proceeds. Zellers called on him to resign. (MPR News)

4. Current and former state lawmakers, their employees, and lobbyists and advocates who regularly pass through the Capitol share stories of a proverbial small world that can enable untoward behavior by people in positions of power.For a few months every year, 201 lawmakers — two-thirds of them men — gather in St. Paul, many far from home and family, and insulated from the traditional constraints of a workplace by the fact there’s no simple way to “fire” a person from a position to which they’ve been elected. Meanwhile, hundreds of lobbyists employed by major corporations, powerful unions and other moneyed interests work to cultivate lawmakers who control whether employers’ priorities are achieved through the legislative process. Lobbyists rely on relationships with lawmakers — and have little or no recourse if they are harassed or face discrimination. (Star Tribune)

5. As church bells called worshipers together across Minnesota on Sunday, the First Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas, was on the minds of many church leaders. “It feels like the kind of thing that you know, it could happen anywhere. So I think that it’s really hit home for people,” said Larry Wohlrabe, bishop for 228 northern Minnesota congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The 26 deaths in Texas raise the sense of urgency around church security, said Wohlrabe, who believes many churches have created security plans, but in some cases never finished the plan or implemented it.nShootings in places of worship are not new. There have been more than a dozen in the U.S. over the past decade. And while security may be a newer challenge for many Christian churches, especially those in small rural communities, mosques and synagogues across the region have steadily increased security measures for years. (MPR News)

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