March is a growing cause

Walkers taking part in the annual March of Dimes March for Babies Saturday morning cross Fourth Street Northwest after leaving the Holiday Inn and Convention Center.  Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Walkers taking part in the annual March of Dimes March for Babies Saturday morning cross Fourth Street Northwest after leaving the Holiday Inn and Convention Center.
Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Hundreds of people gathered at the Holiday Inn in Austin Saturday to take big steps for little infants.

The annual March for Babies raised more than $57,000 this year to help research premature babies and fund other infant programs. That includes a $19,000 donation from the annual Bowling for Babies event, and organizers say more money is coming in. The March for Babies raised about $57.000 last year.

“It’s awesome,” said March for Babies chairwoman Lisa Morehouse. “That’s what we walk for and that’s what we are raising this money for.”

Walkers in the 2014 March of Dimes March for Babies make their way toward The Hormel Institute Saturday morning. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Walkers in the 2014 March of Dimes March for Babies make their way toward The Hormel Institute Saturday morning. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

This year’s March for Babies Ambassadors, Mark and Mikayla Austin, were on hand to thank the crowd for their support and to tell their story in hopes it would inspire others to get involved.

The couple, who live in Austin, lost their twins after Mikayla prematurely gave birth in December 2009, five months before her due date.

Mark and Mikayla had tried for several years to have a child, but were unable to. They started in vitro fertilization and successfully became pregnant with twins.

State Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, the primary sponsor of the bill that would allow Sunday growler sales is troubled that he has not seen the contract language or learned the identity of the company.

“We don’t have a name and we don’t have language,” Reinert said. “I trust everyone until I have a reason not to, but I would like to see the language and I would like to know who the wholesaler is because my read of this is it’s not a repeal of Sunday sales.”

Reinert also has been at odds with the Teamsters over his push to allow liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sunday. He said the Teamsters should have raised objections to the bill in committee instead of talking privately with DFL leaders.

“I have been told that those provisions are problematic and unless I’m willing to take them out, which I’m not, then the bill is not moving forward,” he said.

Senate Tax Committee chair Rod Skoe downplayed any suggestion that he is holding up the bill because of the Teamster’s objection. Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, said he opposes any form of alcohol sales on Sundays, and he’s not sure if he’ll hold a hearing on the bill this session.

“None of the provisions would absolutely have to get done this year so we’ll see how our schedule develops,” he said.

But there will be consequences if the liquor bill doesn’t pass. The University of Minnesota would not have the authority to continue selling alcohol at its football stadium. The push to extend bar hours during this summer’s Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in Minneapolis would stall and taprooms would not be able to open on Sundays at all.

Sunday growler sales are also included in the omnibus liquor bill in the House. That bill is ready for a floor vote, but the bill’s author is waiting to see whether the Senate acts on its version. State Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, suggested the Teamster’s opposition to growler sales will be an issue.

“We generally try to have a liquor bill that is a noncontroversial bill because we’re carrying provisions in there for 13 or 14 members so the extent that anything becomes highly controversial, that places it in jeopardy.”

The issue is frustrating to members of the Minnesota Beer Activists, who have lobbied for ending the state’s ban on Sunday liquor store sales.

 

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