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New MN GOP Bill: Let’s Legalize Running Over Protesters!

Plus AG looks into Hope, Heavy Table goes big, and Duluth's golden age of filmmaking in today's Flyover news roundup.

Ulrik Skare via Unsplash|

This is a stock photo. We’re not accusing this guy of anything!

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

The Party of Vehicular Assault?

Last week, five GOP state senators introduced a nutty bill that would make it a-OK to drive into pedestrians illegally blocking traffic, whether they’re jaywalking or protesting, if the driver “reasonably believes that the operator or a passenger in the motor vehicle is in immediate danger.” Yes, because people driving cars apparently need more protections and less accountability.

The bill was written by an all-star team of Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Nathan Wesenberg (R-Little Falls), a drama queen known for calling 911 on drag shows, publicly ranting that educators teach “kids to be gay and to hate white people," and worrying that passing a public safety transportation omnibus bill would legalize pedophilia. Sen. Cal Bahr (R-East Bethel) is the guy who voted shirtless on Zoom, and Sen. Eric Lucero (R-St. Michael) is our local Satanic panic tweeter (every neighborhood has one). Longtime crank Sen. Steve Drazkowski (R-Le Sueur) and Sen. Mark W. Koran (R-Chisago City) also worked on the bill.

Thought the bill has no chance in making it through the DFL-controlled legislature, the right to ram into protesters isn't just some fringe belief held by a handful of Republicans. Florida, Iowa, and Oklahoma have already passed similar legislation, and such bills are popping up in the legislatures around the country. And drivers are increasingly using their vehicles to vent their frustration with protesters, if not to deliberately injure them. A Boston Globe story found that 139 rammings had taken place nationwide between May 2020 and October 2021.

AG to Hope Breakfast Bar: We Hope for More Transparency

Since opening in 2020, Hope Breakfast Bar has been doing gangbusters, with four locations in the metro area and three new spots coming soon. (Chef Brian Ingam told J.D. Duggan at Minneapolis-St. Paul Journal that he plans to clear $30 million in sales this year.) A lot of the restaurant chain's booming success could be attributed to Hope’s charity work, as a portion of proceeds go to their Give Hope MN org, which has donated money to things like children’s cancer treatments, funeral costs, and earthquake relief. But great PR and giant checks do not build bridges over bureaucracy creek, so the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office is asking Hope to get their paperwork and filing statuses sorted ASAP or incur the wrath of an investigation. 

In 2023, the IRS revoked Give Hope’s 501(c)(3) status after the nonprofit failed to file the necessary paperwork, which then caught the eye of the AG. “Not a big rule guy and there’s so many rules on how you give as a nonprofit,” Ingram on the People and Places and How We Use Spaces podcast. “We transitioned to a foundation because we want to give in ways where we can just give immediately and not have to follow maybe some of the rules.” Give Hope’s website describes the organization as a C-Corp nonprofit. But according to a report from Ryan Raiche at KSTP, the company remains unregistered after months of being asked to do so and, unlike with a 501(c)(3) designation, C-Corps aren’t tax exempt. Uh oh.

Heavy Table Does Heavy Coverage of Lyndale Avenue

As someone who worked on over 20 Best Of issues for City Pages, I gotta say I love seeing a publication put out a big-ass endeavor. Today, local food/drink site Heavy Table dropped their massive Lyndale Avenue Checklist, a five-part series reviewing every dang restaurant along the prolific street, which runs from north Minneapolis to Bloomington. “79 reviews, 45,000+ words, hundreds of illustrations and photos—it's a beast. I'm really proud of this one,” owner/writer James Norton wrote to Viraluae in an email this morning. For the project, which took 18 months to complete, Norton teamed up with writer/rapper M.C. Cronin, photographer Becca Dilley, and illustrator WACSO There are good reviews (on Baba’s: “You could easily be fooled into believing you’re ogling artisan ice cream. But it’s hummus, and it’s gorgeous.”) and there are harsher reviews (on Golden Wok: “The dining room is more ‘Sure, go ahead and sit if you really want to.’”), and plenty of other good stuff along the way. Part one covers Bloomington and Richfield, part two features locations south of Lyn-Lake; part three is dedicated to Lyn-Lake; part four explores the North Side; and part five is all about coffee, tea, and breakfast spots.

Watch Out, Toronto! Duluth Is Also a Movie Town.

Minneapolis might be aspiring to host the Sundance Film Festival someday, but in addition to attracting billionaire land hoarders, Duluth is the true movie-making town of Minnesota these days. In this fun piece by Jay Gabler at Duluth News Tribune, he explores how the Zenith City hits a sweet spot for film projects of a certain budget. "It's not Marvel money, but we think we have a business model that has worked for us," says John Burd, executive producer of Fatal Photo. There’s not always money to build a set or pay for hotel rooms for an entire crew, but in Duluth productions can rent a mansion for a month and then utilize the city’s incentives (including up to 25% in reimbursements) to save even more money. Recent films made in town include thrillers like Stalked By My Stepsister for Lifetime, and romcoms Merry Kiss Cam (Hulu) and Rescuing Christmas (Hallmark). "We have a close-knit, fun group of people where we all know each other," producer Clara Davies tells Gabler.

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