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This Hour: Latest Minnesota news, sports, business and entertainment

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SEX OFFENDERS

February trial set for sex offenders lawsuit

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Feb. 9 trial date has been set for a constitutional challenge to Minnesota's sex offenders treatment program.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank set the date Thursday during a hearing in St. Paul on the case.

Some 700 people are indefinitely committed to the program. Almost no one has gotten out of the program since it was launched, and patients have argued that makes it unconstitutional.

Frank had hoped to bring the lawsuit to trial before the end of the year, but experts evaluating the patients said they couldn't finish their work that quickly. Frank has asked those experts to make their report by mid-November.

The exact scope of the trial has yet to be determined.

DEVELOPMENT PROJECT SWINDLE

Couple convicted in project swindle

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Wayzata couple has been found guilty of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from an office development project in Orono.

Prosecutors say the swindle also played a role in the demise of First Commercial Bank of Bloomington, which loaned about $3 million before the project came to a halt in 2008.

Philip and Virginia Carlson were each found guilty of five counts of theft by swindle by a Hennepin County District Court jury Wednesday.

The Carlsons were developers and general contractors for the Amber Woods office building. County Attorney Mike Freeman says they were funneling money through a company they owned which wasn't doing work on the project while failing to pay the companies that had done work on the development.

Sentencing is set for Oct. 30.

MINIMUM WAGE FEE-RESTAURANT

Restaurant won't pass higher wage to workers

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A St. Paul restaurant chain that dipped into employee tips to offset a higher state minimum wage is backing away from that practice after it was roundly criticized.

The Blue Plate chain of eight restaurants passed along a credit card processing fee to its staff after the state minimum wage rose by 75 cents an hour on Aug. 1.

Blue Plate told its employees the new wage hike and rising health insurance costs would cost the company $1.2 million. So, the 2 percent credit card fee the restaurant chain had been paying would come out of their tips.

Blue Plate co-owner David Burley tells the Star Tribune they've decided to take a different approach after listening to customers and the community. Blue Plate's restaurants include the Highland, Longfellow and Edina Grills.

MINNESOTA STATE FAIR-POLITICS

Political candidates see opportunity at State Fair

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Political candidates foraging for fall votes are settling in at the Minnesota State Fair.

With more than 1.7 million people expected to roam the grounds during the 12-day run, candidates for governor, senator and other offices are shaking hands and spreading their messages.

Democratic Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger Mike McFadden crossed paths outside the main gate as both greeted the first fairgoers.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson says the fair provides a great cross section of voters and he challenged Gov. Mark Dayton to hold a debate or two there.

The Democratic incumbent says that won't happen, but he'll debate Johnson a half-dozen times between now and November.

Dayton spent time shaking hands and listening to voter concerns at his party's booth.

SUPREME COURT CANDIDATE-STATE FAIR

GOP Supreme Court candidate banned at fair booth

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Republican Party's endorsed candidate for Supreme Court is pushing back against the party's attempts to keep her away from its State Fair booth.

Michelle MacDonald showed up at the booth on the fair's first day Thursday and was asked several times to leave. Party officials passed a resolution a day earlier that bans her from the booth because of a pending drunken driving case.

MacDonald was asked several times to leave before she finally did, but she vowed to return. She says she's being unfairly excluded and is willing to risk arrest.

MacDonald was endorsed at the GOP state convention in May but has been ostracized since. Party officials say they didn't know about her 2013 arrest.

She's running against incumbent Justice David Lillehaug.

GRAIN BIN FALL

Firefighters rescue man in grain bin

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - It took firefighters from a special rescue unit four hours to reach a man who had fallen 60 feet in an empty grain bin in Minneapolis.

Fire officials say the man had a broken jaw and other serious injuries and was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. KSTP-TV says about 30 firefighters responded to the emergency call about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Authorities say the man and two others were exploring in the grain bins when the victim fell.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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