Voters will weigh in on St. Paul’s trash collection plan next week.  Both sides are fine-tuning their arguments in the controversial trash debate as Election Day nears.  Those for the organized trash collection say voting it down will result in dramatically higher taxes.  Opponents accuse Mayor Melvin Carter of using scare tactics, and say the city should pursue an entirely new deal with haulers with a greater range of options for low-income residents.

The city of Minneapolis is renewing efforts to set a nickel fee on bags given by retailers.  The ordinance would apply to all paper, plastic, and reusable bags handed out to encourage shoppers to bring their own bags. The nickel fee would be kept by the businesses.  An effort by the city two years ago to ban plastic bags was blocked by the Legislature.

Minnesota lawmakers are urging changes for moms behind bars.  Officials want imprisoned mothers to have more time with their children.  Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan toured the state’s only facility for women yesterday with state Representative Jamie Becker.  The lawmakers say they’re committed to working with the Department of Corrections to accommodate pregnant women and mothers of young children.

Minnesota’s top government watchdog says that troubling dysfunction at the Department of Human Services led to the agency making 29-million-dollars in improper payments to two Indian bands.  Legislative Auditor James Nobles released the report this morning.  He said the DHS did not have legal authority to make the payments, and did not document why, when, and who decided it was appropriate to make the payments.  Nobles also discovered that no one at the agency has been accountable for the decision.  The two Indian bands, White Earth Nation and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, received the money in payments for medications to help patients break away from addiction.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety will offer weekend hours at three metro area exam stations to help reduce wait times for drivers seeking to get their licenses.  Starting November 2nd through December 22, road test will take place on Saturdays and Sundays at stations in Arden Hills, Eagan and Plymouth.  The Department of Vehicle Services says the added weekend hours will be able to handle an extra 32 hundred appointments.

A battle is brewing over a state-ordered shutdown of the Water Gremlin plant in White Bear Township.  Dozens of workers protested at the state Capitol yesterday, demanding that production lines be reopened.  The plant was ordered to close for 72 hours on Monday citing the company’s failure to control lead dust that has poisoned at least 12 children of workers.  A hearing is set for tomorrow to determine if the plant will remain closed.  Water Gremlin employs over 300 people.

A woman who says she was raped is facing charges in the asphyxiation death of the man she says attacked her.  Evonne Sharkey was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Steven Malone who was found dead early Sunday in an apartment at the Como-Dale Estates.  Sharkey says she choked, then bound and gagged Malone while fighting with him after he raped her.  Police found no signs of struggle in Malone’s apartment, but found his watch, cellphone, and rings in a bag in Sharkey’s motel room.

ACT scores in Minnesota remain at the top of the rankings in states where nearly all graduating seniors take the test.  Test results released today show that graduating Minnesota seniors earned an average composite score of just over 21 out of a possible 36.  The average was up just slightly over last year.  About 95-percent of the state’s graduating seniors took the test.  The ACT measures college readiness for English, math, reading, and science.

The shooter in an execution-style murder of an Iron Range man will serve up to life in prison.  Design Bonnell was sentenced last week after pleading guilty to first-degree murder during a robbery.  Bonnell’s sentence was connected to the death of 33-year-old Joshua Lavalley, whose body was found January 6th on a snowmobile trail near Hibbing.

Officials say Stillwater Area Public Schools violated the state’s open meeting law.  A resident requested the opinion after a complaint that an August 29th meeting of a Finance and Operations Working Group had a quorum of board members.  Four of the seven members attended the meeting, which qualified it as a school board meeting that should have been posted publicly ahead of time.

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