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Editorial Brief: Minnesota | minnesota news

by YAR

Minneapolis Star Tribune. May 10, 2022.

Editorial: A virtual age for the state court system

Online innovation related to the pandemic deserves support and budget help at the State Capitol.

Like most functions of government, Minnesota’s court system has experienced serious COVID-related challenges over the past two years. It had to turn on a dime to make “appearing” in court a remote, online experience for patrons and staff.

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As a result of what has been learned, the court has taken a smart technology approach to resolving issues related to the pandemic and backlog. To continue their groundbreaking work and offer more competitive compensation, state court officials are seeking a reasonable 2.8% budget increase by 2023. Lawmakers and Governor Tim Walz must honor that request.

Judiciary leaders are requesting a budget increase of $21.47 million for 2023, or 2.79% above the current two-year total budget of $768.6 million. Most of that increase, about $17.7 million, is for salaries and benefits. It would increase the salary of judges by 6% and increase the compensation pool for all other court personnel by 6%. The court system employs 320 judges and another 2,500 staff members.

According to the National Center for State Courts, Minnesota judge pay ranks 20th nationally compared to other states. Annual judicial salaries range from $169,264 for district court judges to $210,496 for Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea.

Gildea recently told the Star Tribune Editorial Board that state courts are having trouble retaining staff. The proportion of employees who left employment in the judiciary increased by 42%, and the number of applicants for vacant positions fell by 51% since 2018.

Gildea said that’s partly because salaries for the judiciary have lagged behind other public sector agencies. Currently, judges in some counties earn less than the county attorneys who appear before them and, in some cases, even less than deputy county attorneys. Improving compensation would help address disparity within the public sector and help the court system hire and retain qualified workers.

Despite budget pressures, the state court system has initiated major reforms in recent years and new initiatives such as drug courts, pretrial release programs, and the repeal of bail schedules as part of pretrial release. judgment. And the system has improved its support for self-represented litigants.

After nearly two years of mostly virtual court proceedings, the administrative policy-setting council for the courts has approved making online hearings a permanent feature in many cases. Gildea called the new policy “one of the most important and consequential decisions” the council has made. He added that the use of virtual hearings, where appropriate, improves access to court and has led to fewer missed appearances.

While judges can deviate from the plan if an in-person process is necessary, many non-criminal cases will be conducted remotely, including harassment, eviction, family, and high and low civil court hearings. The state’s 10 judicial districts will decide whether criminal court cases will be held remotely. The new policy goes into effect June 6.

For all it does to serve Minnesotans, the state’s court system deserves the modest budget increase its leaders are asking for to maintain and improve court services while remaining a national leader in innovation.

Mankato Free Press. May 10, 2022.

Editorial: Supporting the protection of water resources

Clean and abundant water remains a natural gem for Minnesota. It is also threatened by a growing number of sources.

Better protecting our groundwater and surface water is something Minnesotans readily support.

The Legislature is considering two pieces of legislation that deserve support.

HF 3888 by Rep. Kelly Morrison, DFL-Hopkins, and SF 3633 by Sen. Jennifer McEwen, DFL-Duluth, would provide $650,000 to the Water Board that would help ensure Minnesota has clean water for the next 50 years.

The bill would appropriate $650,000 for the Water Board to use to study current water resources and develop plans that Minnesotans can use to protect an adequate water supply for at least the next 50 years.

The Water Council is organized by the University of Minnesota and is a consortium of water quality groups in the state.

Another bill sponsored by Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, would spend more than $7 million from the Clean Water Fund on water and pollution control projects. The bill does not yet have a companion in the Senate.

The Clean Water Fund was one of four funds created when Minnesota voters approved the Legacy amendment in 2008. The fund is used to pay for projects that protect, enhance or restore the state’s drinking, surface and ground water resources.

The legislation would provide $2.7 million to the University of Minnesota to study the role of water in transporting the chronic debilitating disease prions and $1.75 million to the Department of Health to address public health issues related to contaminants found in drinking water.

Most of the remaining funds would go to the Department of Health, Metropolitan Council and the Pollution Control Agency to address a variety of issues, including contamination of private wells and setting water quality standards for perfluorooctanoic and perfluorooctanesulfonic acids. .

So far, Minnesota shows no signs of an upcoming water crisis that will affect and affect much of the United States, particularly the West and Southwest. But Minnesotans want to ensure that the future here includes abundant and clean sources of water for drinking and recreational enjoyment.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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