House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said the House plans to use the first day of session to pass a $20 million bill to help low income Minnesotans with heating bills.
As state lawmakers take a closer look at smartphone theft, one cellular provider is launching a “Protect My Cellphone” public awareness campaign.
AT&T Minnesota President Paul Weirtz and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek launched the campaign Tuesday morning at Calhoun Square in Uptown Minneapolis.
Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, is chief author of a bill that would require smartphones sold in the state to have a “kill switch” that would render lost or stolen devices inoperable. One in three robberies involve smartphones at an estimated cost of $30 billion annually. Smartphone thefts have figured in a series of high-profile robberies on and around the University of Minnesota campus in recent months, and Mark Andrew, a former Hennepin County commissioner and unsuccessful Minneapolis mayoral candidate, was badly beaten by thieves who stole his phone at the Mall of America.
Atkins, who has criticized the wireless industry for not being more receptive to kill switches or done more to make the phones less attractive to thieves, said his proposal would be among the first of its kind in the nation.
“I applaud AT&T for being the first wireless company to step up and acknowledge the epidemic of smartphone theft and the increasing violence that is coming along with it.” Atkins said in a statement. “While the AT&T program is only a small step, it is an important step and shows the industry is finally starting to take its head out of the sand on this important public safety issue.”
From the Star Tribune's Abby Simons.
Minnesota Democratic Party Chairman Ken Martin said his party has a delicate line to walk if they are going to hold control the Minnesota House and the governor's office.
“What I would urge Democrats to remember is that this is the first time in many, many years that we have had a surplus,” Martin said. “We should show some fiscal constraint and we should be very judicious in how we spend this money and set ourselves up to have many, many surpluses and not just try to spend it all.”
“You can’t overreach and you can’t underperform,” Martin said. “If you do good things for people, the people will re-elect you. You can’t just sit on your tails and hope people re-elect you. You have to legislate.”
Martin said lawmakers’ focus on some middle class tax relief, a hike in the minimum wage and bonding is appropriate.
--By Baird Helgeson