Daily Digest: Johnson on climate change

Good morning, and happy Friday. I’ll be at the State Fair at 2 this afternoon to host a debate between Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her Republican challenger state Rep. Jim Newberger. If you’re at the fair come by the MPR booth, otherwise listen on the radio. Here’s the Digest.

1. Johnson on climate change: Do nothing. Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson believes climate change is happening, but he doesn’t want to do anything about it. Johnson’s position on climate change came up during last Friday’s gubernatorial debate aired on Twin Cities Public Television where he suggested that plans to combat global warming wouldn’t do any good. “There is a consensus that the plans are out there to deal with climate change somehow aren’t going to change anything in the long run. They just won’t make a difference. Even if we do it on a nationwide scale, but if we do it on a statewide scale, even less so,” he said in the debate with DFL candidate Tim Walz. Johnson went on to say climate change legislation is costly to people and politicians who promote such laws do so because they believe it’s “the right thing to do,” despite it being ineffective. He did not specify the legislation to which he was referring. “We have to end that era of making decisions that hurt people because it makes politicians look good or feel good,” Johnson said. Walz supports a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. (MPR News)

2. DFL candidate addresses parking and traffic tickets. Dogged by a 15-year history of parking tickets mixed with a smattering of moving violations, Joe Radinovich attempted to put to bed a ticket-gate controversy Thursday. Radinovich’s comments came roughly one week after an outside super-PAC, or political action group, made an issue out of his roughly 30 infractions as an adult driver. “I reject that they’re a character issue,” said Radinovich, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate in the race for the open seat in the 8th Congressional District. Radinovich called the issue “a headache” and said he’ll be more careful about it going forward. The vast majority of violations occurred in Hennepin County in the last several years, when Radinovich worked as an aide to onetime city councilor and current Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “It was tough to avoid parking tickets sometimes,” Radinovich said, describing how construction and a lack of contract parking forced him to use streetside parking meters, which would expire while he said he became preoccupied by the business of the day. Thursday began with Republican candidate Pete Stauber’s camp putting out a news release saying Radinovich owed it to voters to explain the violations — 31 total dating to 2004. The Minnesota Judicial Branch website categorically listed the infractions as petty misdemeanors — making the violations civil matters correctable by paying fines. Petty misdemeanors are not crimes. (Duluth News Tribune)

3. Suit over sex offender program comes to an end. A long-running class-action lawsuit over the constitutionally of Minnesota’s civil commitment program for sex offenders effectively ended Thursday when a federal judge dismissed the remaining claims but stood by his earlier statements that some revelations during the six-week trial shock his conscience. U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank cited a 2017 decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned his 2015 declaration that the program was unconstitutional because few people had ever been released from the program since began in the mid-1990s. The U.S. Supreme Court last October declined to hear the case, letting the 8th Circuit’s ruling stand and the program to continue operating as it was. The Minnesota Sex Offender Program currently confines over 720 sex offenders who have finished their prison sentences to secure treatment facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter. Lawyers who filed the class-action lawsuit in 2011 argued that commitment to the program was tantamount to a life sentence because hardly anyone up to that point had ever been released from it. However, the pace of provisional discharges has picked up since the trial ended. (AP)

4. Minneapolis mayor pledges to help people in homeless encampment. Minneapolis officials said Thursday that the number of people at a homeless encampment on the city’s south side has doubled in a week — and the city outlined steps it plans to take to help the camp’s residents. Calling it an unsafe environment, the city and various community nonprofit organizations are teaming up to help the 120 people living in tents near East Franklin and Hiawatha avenues. Mayor Jacob Frey and other officials said the goal is to get everyone out of what’s being called the Franklin-Hiawatha Encampment by the end of September. Frey told a crowded room of community members Thursday at the Minneapolis American Indian Center that the homeless encampment has become a risk to public safety and health, with instances of drug trafficking, and disease associated with exposure to hazardous materials such as used needles. (MPR News)

5. Minimum wage earners to get a raise. The 219,000 Minnesotans paid minimum wage will get a raise Jan. 1. State officials announced Thursday that employees of large businesses will be paid at least $9.86 an hour, up from $9.65 that is required today. Those who work for smaller businesses will be paid a minimum of $8.04, compared to the current $7.87. “This is great news for Minnesota’s lowest-wage workers and will help them keep up with inflation to better provide for themselves and their families,” state Labor Commissioner Ken Peterson said. “But more needs to be done so all Minnesotans can earn their way to economic security.” The pay situation is not as simple as just a couple of numbers. For one thing, Minneapolis has its own minimum wage: $11.25 an hour for large employers and $10.25 for small businesses. (Forum News Service)

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