Minnesotans could bet on sporting events online, at casinos and horse racing tracks under a new proposal that would bring the state in line with its neighbors.
A bipartisan state Senate proposal would allow in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and racetracks, and online gaming through vendors that the tribes oversee. If signed into law, it could go into effect in fall 2023, marking one of the largest expansions of for-profit gambling in state history.
“This is something that people in Minnesota want to see happen — that they’re, quite frankly, traveling across the border to make happen,” said Sen. Julia Coleman, R-Waconia. “This is a win-win scenario for the people of Minnesota and for the state of Minnesota.”
Pressure is building on Minnesota as legalization spreads across the country. But there is also opposition grounded in concerns including addiction, religious views and consumer protection, said Jake Grassel of Citizens Against Gambling Expansion (CAGE). A key concern is the proliferation of online gambling, which allows users to place bets anytime, anywhere.
“We fully anticipate, as in years past, that it will have vigorous opposition,” Grassel said.
Federal law largely prohibited commercial sports betting until 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional. Sports betting is now legal in 33 states and Washington, D.C.
It’s a lucrative market: Last year, Americans set a commercial sports betting record of more than $57 billion, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA), an industry advocacy group. States get some of that money through taxes.
Details of the Senate proposal are still being finalized, but the plan would allow the state to tax revenue from online gaming. Revenue would flow into the state’s general fund, although where it would go from there has yet to be determined. A percentage of either licensing fees or tax revenue would go toward Gamblers Anonymous.
“There’s a lot of places people want this money to go,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, who sponsored a sports betting bill last session. “I’ve been saying from the first day, this is not a big cash cow — this is about consumers and customers and having some fun.”
Minnesota motorists could drive around with license plates commemorating the Vikings football team under bipartisan legislation introduced this week.
Drivers would be required to contribute at least $30 a year to the Minnesota Vikings Foundation to get the plates, which would be modeled after the state’s critical habitat license plates. Those plates, featuring artwork depicting wildlife ranging from rusty patched bumble bees to moose, have helped raise as much as $6.5 million in a year.
“This is a way to connect with passionate Vikings fans in our state and is a potential opportunity that doesn’t really exist yet to help generate dollars to help make an impact through the Minnesota Vikings Foundation,” said Brett Taber, Vikings vice president of social impact and executive director of the foundation.
The Vikings Foundation is a nonprofit public charity organization that focuses on youth health and education initiatives. Recent projects include a food truck that serves healthy meals and a program that helped pay for remote educational needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taber said about 19 other states with 24 National Football League teams have similar specialty license plate programs. The foundation submitted a required survey to the Department of Public Safety in October that estimated about 1 million Minnesotans could have some level of interest in specialty Vikings plates.
Sens. Julia Coleman, R-Chanhassen, and Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, are sponsoring the bill in the GOP-controlled Senate. In the DFL House, Reps. Erin Koegel, DFL-Spring Lake Park, and John Huot, DFL-Rosemount, are sponsoring a companion bill introduced on Tuesday.
“The Minnesota Vikings have demonstrated a commitment to our state through the work of its charitable foundation and their continued work to support Minnesota families and children,” Coleman said in a statement. “By allowing Vikings fans to get a special Vikings license plate, fans will be able to join with the team in their initiatives to help kids across the state.”
The proposed legislation would take effect Jan. 1 if passed this session.
Koegel, the House sponsor, said she plans to propose additional legislation this year that would remove the requirement that specialty plates must be approved by the Legislature and make it the purview of the Department of Public Safety.
But for now, Koegel, an avid football fan, is an eager proponent of clearing the way for Vikings plates this session.
“If we can cheer a team on or show our support while also contributing to a charity that helps out our Twin Cities and state — that’s pretty fun,” Koegel said.
State Sen. Julia Coleman (R-Chanhassen) was unanimously elected chair of the Minnesota Legislative Commission on Metropolitan Government by her fellow committee members on Dec. 12.
The commission was established to oversee the Metropolitan Council’s operating and capital budgets, work program and capital improvement program, according to a release from the Minnesota State Senate.
“We have important work to do to reform and improve the Met Council, so it better serves the needs of Minnesotans across the seven-county metro,” Coleman said. “I will fight for Carver County residents and work with my colleagues to bring needed transparency and accountability to the Council.”
Coleman will also become the vice-chair of the Senate Tax Committee during the 2022 legislative session. Coleman served as a regular member of the committee during the 2021 session.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The state Legislature this year approved paid break time for nursing mothers in a move that got bipartisan support and that experts call the “next frontier” for gender equity in the workplace.
GOP Sen. Julia Coleman and DFL Rep. Erin Koegel worked together in the House and the Senate to expand the protections, guaranteeing that no one would lose income to pump breast milk.
Federal law requires most employers to provide reasonable break time, but no compensation is required.
Minnesota is the third state in the country to update the statute so employers can’t dock pay when mothers take that time; Illinois and Georgia previously approved the policy. At least one state, Indiana, requires paid lactation breaks for state employees, but it doesn’t extend to all employers.
“You should never have to decide ‘do I want to maintain my income and keep food on the table for my family? Or do I want to feed my baby?,’” said Coleman, a first-term senator from Chanhassen with three sons under the age of three. “We’re better than that in Minnesota.”
Liz Morris is the deputy director of the Center for WorkLife Law, which is a legal team at the UC Hastings School of Law that focuses on gender, racial and class equity in the workplace. Morris co-authored a report that found due to an unintended legal technicality, over 9 million women of childbearing age aren’t covered by the federal Break Time Nursing Mothers Law.
Minnesota law before adding paid break time covered all categories of workers.
“I think paid breaks for lactation is the next frontier,” Morris said, noting that many workers have a right to take a paid break for health reasons. “No mother should be forced to choose between breastfeeding her baby and her livelihood, so laws like this really ensure that no mother has to make that impossible choice.”
Rep. Erin Koegel, DFL-Spring Lake Park, first pushed for the bill during her second term two years ago. At the time, her infant daughter, Clara, was a fixture around the state capitol, strapped to her mother’s chest as Koegel represented her district during committee meetings and floor debate.
She said she was first surprised to learn about the unpaid lactation law.
“There’s so many jobs that you can sit at your desk and pump,” Koegel said. “But there are so many jobs that you can’t like retail. So making sure that that women have the ability to do that and not be punished for it was one of the key things that I wanted to make sure that we saw happen.”
Working with Coleman was a bipartisan bright spot. Koegel called it an “amazing” opportunity to work on making sure the provision passed both chambers.
“Representation matters,” Koegel said. “And these are those kind of issues where we understand it a little bit better than our male counterparts.”
The changes were included in a larger bill that also expanded pregnancy accommodations — like frequent restroom, food and water breaks and limits on heavy lifting — to cover more workers. Now employers with 15 or more people are required to give those accommodations and workers can request them on day one of employment.
The second phase of the Highway 212 construction project, between Norwood Young America and Cologne, was recently awarded $25 million in state funding.
The funds were allotted for major improvements to a five-mile section of the road. It was included in a transportation bill passed by the state House and Senate, and signed by Gov. Tim Walz last week, said Sen. Julia Coleman (R-Chanhassen).
The $25 million fills a funding gap for “Phase 2” of the larger Highway 212 improvement project. Phase 1 of the project, between Cologne and Carver, began this spring.
Improvements will include an expansion from a two-lane highway to four lanes — the last Highway 212 segment in Carver County to do so. The portion hasn’t been reconstructed or widened since it was built over 90 years ago.
Construction will also add turn lanes and expand shoulders for increased safety on a road known for its accidents. At least four people have died on Highway 212 between Cologne and Norwood Young America over the past 11 years. It also has plenty of trucks and increasing traffic from across the region.
The total cost for the segment is expected to be around $60 million, said Carver County Engineer Lyndon Colebrook-Robjent.
“This is a project that’s been dreamed about and planned for many years,” said Rep. Greg Boe, R-Chaska. “It’s something that we need … I’ve really only heard a couple people talking negatively (about it) and it’s only because of the temporary mess that construction brings.”
For Sen. Coleman and many others, that construction is worth it.
“It’s time for this to happen. We’re just thrilled it’s finally gotten across the finish line,” Coleman said. “I’m actually excited to see those orange cones come up.”
Construction is slated to begin in 2024, Colebrook-Robjent said.
State Sen. Julia Coleman with her husband, Jacob, and three children: Adam, left, and twins Charles and James. DAVE HRBACEK | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT
At 29, Julia Coleman is the youngest Minnesota state senator in office, serving District 47. She’s also the mother to three boys under age 2. Her Catholic faith sustains her. The Chanhassen resident attends nearby St. Hubert as well as the Cathedral of St. Paul, where she and her husband, Jacob, were married.
Last month their twins were born at 33 weeks. After 27 days in the NICU of Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, James and Charles were brought home, joining big brother Adam, who is 20 months.
Q) You had a legislative special session today and then brought Charles home! How are you feeling?
A) It’s a mixed bag. We had to be so strong to get through all the scary parts. We didn’t know if the boys were going to make it more than a few minutes or hours upon their birth. The doctor has since told me that there were times she looked at their scans and didn’t think they’d ever make it home. I’m so grateful, and I’m going to remember that when I’m up at 2 and 4 this morning.
Q) How were you able to keep engaged as a senator during such an intense time? Wasn’t your brain fried?
A) A couple nurses said, “You seem like you were made to have these twins.” My husband and I thrive on being busy — perpetual motion. It creates a great balance. I can spend a lot of time at home with my children and volunteer within the community, and then half the year, I’m a Minnesota state senator. I get to be fulfilled in many different ways.
Q) Is it true your husband distracted you during the C-section by talking policy?
A) Yes! We were talking about redistricting and if we thought it was going through the Legislature or to the state Supreme Court.
Q) During your NICU time, was it hard to admit when you needed a break?
A) I’d like to say I’m self-aware enough for a break, but my husband and I told each other when the other person appeared to need a break. The best thing was to do nothing! Clear your mind. Meditation, prayer, talking to God. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
Q) How did your NICU experience change you as a senator?
A) When I first became a senator, I was a little nervous. Will I be good enough for my constituents? There’s a confidence you gain from going through this. There’s a perspective you gain, having children stare death in the eye, and to be granted a miracle. Your connection to your faith is stronger. You trust everything will work out. I feel more capable. Once you’ve faced the scariest situation you can face — losing a child — not much else looks scary.
Q) What might that look like in action?
A) I think about the world I want my children to inherit, and I want to fight like the mama bear I am to bring that about. That means being willing to go against cultural norms and speak for the values I want them to inherit.
Q) Did some of the nurses seem like angels?
A) Absolutely! There are nurses that, I feel, are sent to that room at that moment in your life for a reason. It’s meant to be. Now my husband and I want to improve the lives of other NICU parents and raise money for their children. We want to make that a passion project.
Q) How do you manage the scrutiny of public life?
A) There were women on Instagram telling me I was relinquishing my role as a mother by working outside the home. But there are great writings even by Pope John Paul II that disagree with that. When you know you’re at a point in your life when you’re feeling called to be where you are, when you feel that you’re on the right path, the criticism rolls off your back.
Q) What do you make of the criticism?
A) When you’re in in the public eye and you’re constantly receiving criticism, it can be easy to do one of two things: either take it all personally and get upset or ignore it all. But there is constructive criticism out there, which is why it’s important to pause and consider if it’s true.
Q) Can you recall a constructive one?
A) When my first son was born, I was so excited to be a mom that I shared everything — not only on my private page but on my campaign page as well. Someone said, “We want to hear less about your baby and more about your policies!” At first, I was a little offended, and then I said, “You’re right! You want to hear my ideas. Here they are.”
Q) The last few years have been a whirlwind! You haven’t been married three years yet, you’re now a senator and a mom of three. How do you process it all?
A) Humor! My husband and I make everything lighthearted when it can be.
Q) Tell me about Jacob, who is a firefighter.
A) I have learned a lot from his service. When people are running away from a situation, he’s the one running toward it. That’s how I want to be as a state senator.
Q) And what have you learned from your father-in-law, former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman?
A) He’s seen how unfairly conservatives are treated by the media and has shown me how to utilize your own media to get your voice out there.
Q) What’s your go-to prayer?
A) When I’m up in the middle of the night, it’s the Hail Mary — especially that “full of grace” line. That’s what I’m trying to be. In times of real struggle, my husband and I turn to the Infant Jesus of Prague novena. It has helped us focus on putting our faith in God and surrendering, saying, “I trust in you” and then shutting off the worry. Prayer is an essential part of motherhood. It’s the first thing I do, before turning to the baby tricks and tips. First you turn to prayer.
Q) Was one of those novenas prayed during your worrisome pregnancy with the twins?
A) Yes. At one point, doctors told us we could increase James’ chance of survival if we killed Charles. Jacob and I both insistently said: “That’s not on the table.” We were never going to choose between our kids. We’re incredibly pro-life. That’s when you lean on your faith and you trust that God has a bigger plan.
Q) You’ve accomplished so much and you’re not yet 30! What’s next for you?
A) Writing a book someday! There was a point in my life when I was living in a three-season porch all year round. I remember falling asleep curling up next to a space heater. I could see my breath. Pulling myself out of that situation and rediscovering my faith is something I would love to share. Many people lose their faith because of bad times, and I would like to help them find their faith because of bad times.
By Mark Olson Chanhassen Villager Combatting COVID-19 as a community
Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2020
The last several days have been trying on our country, state and community. We have seen a virus spread throughout the world, hit the shores of America, travel to the Midwest, and make its way to our own county.
Sport seasons have been canceled, religious services have switched to virtual gatherings, and community events have been called off. My own company, along with countless other employers, have sent their employees to work from home until further notice. Our local governments have done a tremendous job of guiding us on how to prepare for quarantines and prevent spreading the virus, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about how to be a good neighbor during this difficult time for our nation.
Consider participating in the “Light the Night” movement. I heard about this movement on social media and have been practicing it in my own home ever since. Citizens around the world are putting a light in their windows to share hope with their neighbors and to signal their willingness to help with any struggles the coronavirus has caused.
The purpose of the light is to let our senior neighbors know that we will run an errand for them if they are too scared to risk exposure, to let our neighbors whose daycares have been canceled, but jobs have not, know that we will help with childcare, and to let our community know that we are in this together. I encourage this great community to light the night and use this opportunity to spread hope and help.
Try to find ways to continue supporting our local businesses. I had the privilege of speaking with a local business owner concerned about how social distancing and self-quarantining will affect her shop. I learned that buying gift cards, continuing to shop local if you’re moving your shopping online, and to tip a little more than we are accustomed to will help our local businesses and their employees as this virus impacts their operations.
Help our first responders, doctors, and medical professionals by keeping them available for those who need them the most. Working in the healthcare field, I have heard countless stories of emergency rooms filled to the brim with people demanding tests who have no symptoms, of masks being stolen from hospitals, and of medical supplies being bought in bulk. Let’s work together to stay safe, healthy and prepared, without panicking. We can all work to make sure our medical professionals and first responders are available for emergencies and critical cases of COVID-19.
To learn more about the virus and how to protect yourself and others, visit www.co.carver.mn.us/covid-19 or utilize the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline at 651-201-3920.
Living with and serving the people of Chanhassen has given me so much hope that we can and will come together as a community during this pandemic. We are a community of givers, helpers and doers. We are the type of community that comes out the other side of struggles stronger and better than before. We will get through this together.