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Minnesota Joins the War Against Junk Fees

Plus remembering G.R. Anderson Jr., big beer news, and the Strib achieves local angle glory in today's Flyover news roundup.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlookedand/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

Junking Junk Fees

Let's say you're buying a car. Or paying your phone bill. Or ordering food delivery. Or checking out of a hotel. Or looking over your tuition statement or apartment rental application. Or… good god, the list really does keep on going. Point is! You're likely to encounter the so-called "junk fees" that companies use to weasel around $3,200 per year away from a typical American family, according to Consumer Reports. For this upcoming Legislative session, two Minnesota lawmakers—Sen. Lindsey Port (DFL-Burnsville) and Rep. Emma Greenman (DFL-Minneapolis)—have introduced bills to crack down on any seller that "advertises, displays, or offers a price for goods or services that does not include all mandatory fees or surcharges." Minnesota is now being celebrated as one of a dozen states to join the American Economic Liberties Project's End Junk Fees movement, which seeks to "end this deceptive, anti-competitive tactic and make prices fair again."

RIP G.R. Anderson Jr.

If you read City Pages during the '00s, you probably recognize the name G.R. Anderson Jr. We're sad to report that Anderson, who will be remembered as a fierce journalist and gifted drummer, died last week. Mourning her friend via Facebook, Stephanie March of MSP Mag described Anderson as "a wickedly talented writer, musician, dark mind, and wit." Added local musician/writer Dylan Hicks: "He was the excellent and passionate drummer in Rex Daisy, 2 Tickets 2 Paradise, and other groups. Later, I enjoyed being his colleague at City Pages. He was funny and kind and a very good reporter." And here's our own Jessica Armbruster, who also worked alongside him at CP...

G.R. was such an important part of the City Pages newsroom during his era. When the I-35W Bridge collapsed, he was on the scene, trying to help in any way he could. And he really pulled us together as a team when it came time to report on what had happened that terrible day in 2007. (Those CP years are hard to unearth online, but I did manage to find this special package and this follow-up story he did a few weeks later.) I remember he and Mike Mosedale did a cover story on the impact of meth locally before the epidemic had really gained steam. And he eventually did figure out that blog thing, regularly writing the political nitty gritty for CP’s news blog, The Blotter. He’d go on to write for MinnPost, Washington Monthly, Texas Monthly, and Salon, among other local and national outlets. He was also an avid Twins fan; here’s a story he did for us at Racket just last season.

I'll leave you with a link this bulldoggish piece of reporting Anderson and Paul Demko did on MPD's legacy of brutality in 2005. And this 2000 attempt to psychoanalyze Gov. Jesse Ventura's adversarial relationship with the press. And the promise that we're reaching out to those who were closest to Anderson, with the hope that we'll run a proper obit in the coming weeks.

Suds Shopping Sanity?

Minnesota modernizes its byzantine booze laws at a steady, glacial clip of about five between each reform, reports Peter Callaghan at MinnPost. In 2011, the Surly Bill approved onsite guzzling at breweries and to-go growler sales; in 2017, weekend traffic to Hudson, Wisconsin, forever waned, as the Legislature finally allowed Sunday sales in Minnesota; and, in 2022, the Free the Growler bill removed red tape to allow bigger breweries like Surly, Summit, Fulton, Castle Danger, and Schells to begin selling growlers from their taprooms. The next big move, timed to this new session? Sen. Matt Klein (DFL-Mendota Heights) has introduced a bill that would legalize the sale of "strong beer," as MinnPost phrases it, at grocery stories. Minnesota is the last state in the union with a three-two law, one that currently prohibits the sale of beer with ABV surpassing 3.2% in supermarkets.

“I think it’s kind of a deceptive or fraudulent product. People think they’re getting beer and they’re getting less than that,” Klein tells Callaghan while drumming up support for his bipartisan bill. “It’s truth in advertising. If you’re gonna sell beer, let’s sell beer.” (We'll deactivate our ironclad objectivity shield briefly for a: hell yeah, brother.) But brothers might not be hell-yeah-ing through the aisles of Cub anytime soon. The politics of alcohol in Minnesota are mind-boggling complicated, as Callaghan explains in great detail, and groups like the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association don't want the applecart upset. At least one of Klein's important colleagues, Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), isn't on board. “I don’t think it has support in either the House or Senate commerce committees,” the House Commerce Committee chair says. “It’s bad for small businesses—mom and pop liquor stores and craft breweries.”

Local Angle Gods Smile Upon the Strib

In this godforsaken business, nothing gets a reporter's heart humming quite like a juicy, out-of-nowhere local angle on a national talker. So with deep respect and even deeper jealousy, we must commend the Strib's Eder Campuzano for unearthing the fact that the roller skates Usher wore during last night's Super Bowl Halftime Show were created by, you guessed it: Red Wing, Minnesota's Riedell Roller. The exact model of skates Usher, who just announced a Target Center show in November, rocked in front of an audience of 100 million-plus? The $1,450 Flipper's World Quadz, which the R&B superstar reportedly co-designed with Riedell. While I found Usher's sweaty, sexy, skatey Super Bowl showmanship undeniable, here's where I'll state that 1992's much-reviled "Winter Magic" performance inside the Metrodome remains the greatest halftime show of all time. (Sorry, Prince.) In any case, here's Usher, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, H.E.R., Will.i.am, and Jermaine Dupri from last night:

 

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