Six road design lessons from a long winter

As I write this, it’s 15º outside at 10AM. The 10-year average high for this time of year is 55º. I don’t have to tell you it’s been a long winter.

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For riders in wheelchairs, newer light rail trains can be a challenge

For some riders, the newest batch of train cars on Metro Transit’s Blue Line light rail route between Minneapolis and Bloomington might be an upgrade.

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After stand-off, Minneapolis set to legalize Lyft

Minneapolis will likely allow ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uberto to operate in the city after weeks of contention over whether company drivers should have to purchase taxi licenses.

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Minnesota unions come to Dakotas' aid

With more than 20,000 job openings and the nation's lowest unemployment rate, North Dakota is desperately seeking skilled workers to build infrastructure that keeps pace with its oil boom. Despite the conservative state's laws unfriendly to organized labor, six Minnesota-based trade unions are stepping up to help.

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How a $150 loan for kids' Christmas gifts cost a Minnesota woman $4,000

Bills being considered at the Legislature include such changes as capping payday loans per borrower to four a year, requiring lenders to check on a borrower’s ability to repay the loan before it is issued and closing a legal loophole that allows high interest rates. (CC/Flickr/Taber Andrew Bain)

Near the top of anti-poverty groups’ concerns this legislative session are the borrowing problems of people like hard-working Renee Bergeron, a mom of four who dug herself into a hole of debt in part because of a controversial loan practice that is currently legal in Minnesota.

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Northeast's public realm needs a makeover

I’ve spent a bit of time in the St Anthony area recently, looking for homes and reminiscing about my runs along the river during college, attending the midnight opener for Snakes on a Plane at St Anthony Main, and memories of the church my wife and I were married in. The area is quite beautiful, with some great date spots, places to grab a bite, or simply some utilitarian walking. The commercial areas are starting to see some major investments in addition to the great concentration of existing retail, restaurants, townhomes, condos, and century-old residential to the east and west. This development is even more impressive when you consider we’ve made no major transit investments recently (though the Nicollet-Central streetcar certainly won’t hurt).

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Tax bill includes improvements for working families, boosts reserves

The Minnesota Legislature took important steps to make the tax system work better for working Minnesotans today when it passed two great improvements to the Working Family Credit. House File 1777 conforms the credit to federal improvements reducing marriage penalties starting in tax year 2013, and it increases the maximum credit starting in tax year 2014. These two improvements together represent about a 25 percent increase in the Working Family Credit.

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A frozen wage is a shrinking wage

The legislative stalemate on minimum wage indexing continues. By way of a refresher, House and Senate negotiators appear to have agreed on increasing the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour. However, negotiators remain deadlocked on the subject of “indexing” the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) so that the purchasing power of the wage keeps pace with cost of living in future years.

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Broadway proposal not exactly a pinnacle

West Broadway needs big ideas. The stretch along the south side of Broadway, from around Bryant to Emerson, needs comprehensive investment and change (as does Lyndale to Bryant, and almost every other segment along the corridor). Those two needs, however, do not unilaterally go hand in hand. At a West Broadway Coalition presentation tonight, Tim Baylor's Pinnacle Management group exemplified that specific dynamic.

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The present, past, and future of collective bargaining

Recent experiences suggest that the generations-old practice of collective bargaining as the normal, if not dominant, method of negotiating the terms of unionized employment is losing its legitimacy. Notoriously, upon taking office in January 2010, Wisconsin’s Governor Walker introduced a bill to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Despite a massive upheaval and a series of electoral and legal challenges, Act 10 is now the law of the Badger State. And last year in Seattle, when 30,000 workers, represented by the International Association of Machinists, rejected Boeing’s insistence on a restructuring of their pensions and an unprecedented eight year extension, Boeing blackmailed them into a revote by threatening to move their work to another state. Management’s demand just squeaked by in the second vote. In Chattanooga last month, when Volkswagen management announced it would remain neutral in the face of a United Auto Workers’ organizing drive, Republican office-holders launched their own anti-union campaign, threatening that state financial support for the plant would be withheld if the workers unionized. The vote for a union narrowly failed.

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