Marjorie Otto


Internship program aims to bring more diverse workforce to city

  Sixteen Minneapolis college students will intern with the city this summer as it works to close one of the biggest racial unemployment gaps in the nation. The Urban Scholars program, which began last year, takes 14 undergraduate and two graduate students from diverse racial backgrounds and places them in one of 16 city departments. Karen Francois, director of employment equity for the City of Minneapolis, said the paid internship program started in light of a 2011 study that found Minneapolis had one of the biggest racial unemployment disparities in the country.

Bill would allow licenses for undocumented

  Legislators in Minnesota are working on a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. The measure would make Minnesota the fifth state to allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. The proposal, authored by Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, would change Minnesota law to allow people to apply for a driver’s license with a government-issued identification card from another country.

Bill would provide incentives for films

“Gran Torino”  was set to film in Minnesota, but the state lost the opportunity because of poor incentives for filmmakers. Now, the state Senate is working on a proposal to increase funding for “Snowbate,”  Minnesota’s film rebate system that has been in place for more than a decade. “In the 1990s, we were the fourth largest domestic market after L.A., New York and Chicago,” said Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, who created the proposal and a board member of the Film Society of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Ellison’s visit resonates with local Somalis

Last week, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison returned from a visit to Somalia, making him the first U.S. politician to visit the country after the U.S. recognized the new Somali government in January. Ellison met with Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and others to discuss Somali refugees and U.S. remittances. Many of Ellison’s Minneapolis constituents who have emigrated from Somalia in the recent decade urged him to visit the country.

Bill could help those undocumented

Undocumented students at Minnesota colleges could pay in-state tuition and get financial aid under a bill proposed in the state Legislature this week. The bill was proposed Monday by Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, who said its introduction has been a long time coming.  “I’ve been working on this for the last decade,” Pappas said. Similar bills have been brought before legislators in the past, but Pappas is optimistic that this may be the successful year.

Senator pushes for spinal research funding

Spinal cord injuries can be devastating, often leading to full or partial paralysis. Some states publicly fund research for spinal cord injuries, and a bill recently introduced in the state Legislature would make Minnesota one of them. This bill would ask for $4 million a year to go to a public research institution to study brain and spinal cord injuries, said Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, who proposed the bill.

MnSCU wants better college prep

An increasing number of Minnesota high school students are struggling to be fully prepared for college classes. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system — which includes all state-funded colleges besides the University of Minnesota — has found that more and more students need remedial courses. A 2010 report found that 40 percent of those who graduated in 2008 needed remedial courses two years after leaving school — a 7 percent increase from 1999.

Inauguration lends unique perspective to University student

Not many students get the opportunity to go to a presidential inauguration while in school, but University of Minnesota student Takehito Kamata was lucky enough to have that opportunity. Kamata, a doctoral candidate from Japan, is studying higher education here at the University and was able to go to Washington, D.C., because he’s a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, a group that gives students with high academic success networking opportunities around the world. 

Rep. Hausman focuses on University advocacy

Those who work with Rep. Alice Hausman call her fair. The legislator has served as the state representative for the area covering the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus for more than 20 years. Her coworkers have lauded her for not just championing her own bills but the work of her peers. “She is so bent over backwards to be fair,” said Mindy Greiling, a former state representative who served with Hausman on several committees.

DFL senators move in to the state Capitol

As Sen. John Marty settles into his new office at the state Capitol, he sifts through files from past sessions, carefully deciding what to keep and throw away. He said going through the process brings back old memories and gives him time to reflect and reassess his priorities. With the lull between election season and the upcoming 2013 session, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Senate members are packing their belongings and beginning their move into the state Capitol.