Minnesota news in brief at 7:58 p.m. CDT

The Associated PressJuly 10, 2014 

Dayton names 16 to study impact of marijuana law

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday appointed 16 members to a task force that will study the impact of the state's new medical marijuana law.

The governor's appointees to the Task Force on Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research range from law enforcement officials to people who treat substance abuse to potential patients and their parents. They're charged with overseeing the rollout of Minnesota's program and evaluating access to the drug, the quality of medication and its impact on law enforcement and the medical community.

Patients are expected to be able to get medical marijuana starting July 1, 2015.

The Legislature passed a bill that gave Minnesota one of the nation's strictest such laws. Patients can only use a pill, liquid or vaporized form of the drug, and only those who suffer from eight illnesses including cancer, HIV/AIDS and glaucoma will qualify for the program.

That bill also created the 23-member task force, which will also include of two members from each the House and Senate and the commissioners of the departments of Health, Human Services and Public Safety.

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Minnesota revenues beat forecast in final quarter

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota finance officials say state tax collections beat expectations for the final three months of the fiscal year.

According to the quarterly update released Thursday, state revenues for April, May and June were $235 million more than forecast.

Minnesota Management and Budget says the state raised $181 million more in individual income taxes than expected during the quarter. Most of that was because Minnesotans paid more in 2013 income taxes than expected, and tax refunds were below estimates.

Sales tax revenues also exceeded forecasts. While corporate tax collections were $53 million less than expected, officials say big swings in corporate taxes are not unusual.

The update will undoubtedly factor into the governor's race. Republicans contend the economy is sputtering while Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has tried to present a more-upbeat picture.

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3 gorillas briefly escape main zoo enclosure

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Officials at St. Paul's Como Zoo say three gorillas briefly escaped their main enclosure but no people or animals were ever at risk.

Shortly before 10 a.m. Thursday, three male gorillas slipped through an unsecured door behind their habitat and left their indoor enclosure. Two of the gorillas — Sampson and Jabir — were returned to their habitat shortly after 10 a.m.

The third gorilla, Virgil, kept exploring the inside secured area until he moved into the habitat at 10:40 a.m.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1mDuu70http://bit.ly/1mDuu70 ) reports officials say the gorillas were always enclosed within gorilla-proof barriers.

The zoo does not open to the public until 10 a.m., but officials say those on zoo grounds were sent to safe areas until all the gorillas were returned to their habitat.

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Feds release money to fix flooded Minnesota roads

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The federal government has released $4.25 million to help repair flood-damaged roads in Minnesota.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday that the emergency relief funds would be available immediately from the Federal Highway Administration.

The money is in addition to an initial "quick release" payment to Minnesota of $750,000 announced last month.

Gov. Mark Dayton announced Wednesday that Minnesota would get up to $5 million in federal highway dollars to fix some flood-damaged roads.

Minnesota saw widespread flooding, mudslides and high winds in June.

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