Sexual harassment, opioids lead list of top MN stories in 2017

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Allegations of sexual harassment and the #metoo movement gained momentum, causing a storm of controversy that ended the careers of Minnesota politicians and a beloved radio personality.

Those stories dominated the list of the top news stories in Minnesota for 2017 as voted on by several editors at Forum Communications Co. newspapers in the state.

Topping the list was the resignation of Sen. Al Franken, who announced earlier this month that he would step down after eight women made public allegations of sexual harassment.

During a speech from the U.S. Senate floor, Franken didn't acknowledge any wrongdoing.

"Some of the allegations against me are simply not true," Franken said Dec. 7. "Others, I remember very differently."
Even so, Franken's resignation will shape Minnesota politics through 2018 and add a second seat on the general election next November. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Tina Smith, his lieutenant governor, to replace Franken in the Senate. Smith said she will seek the Senate seat in the 2018 special election.

Here are the voting results of the state's other top stories:

2 — State leaders declared opioid deaths a health emergency, with money and attention rapidly being focused on the issue. Meanwhile, Health Department figures show opioids claimed 395 deaths in 2016 — compared to 392 traffic accident deaths last year.

3 — An extensive 29-day search for Jasmine Block, 15, ended in September after she escaped kidnappers and swam across a lake to safety.

4 — A Ramsey County jury determined Jeronimo Yanez was not guilty of manslaughter in June. The former police officer was charged after a 2016 traffic stop and shooting of Philando Castile.

5 — Minnesota Public Radio severed ties with Garrison Keillor in late November, claiming the creator of "A Prairie Home Companion" had been accused of improper behavior with someone who worked with him. MPR didn't elaborate on the behavior, and Keillor tipped off the media about the decision and his version of the story.

6 — Also in November, two state lawmakers — Republican Rep. Tony Cornish and Democrat Sen. Dan Schoen — faced accusations of harassing women. Both resigned their positions.

7 — Numerous public hearings across Minnesota for replacing Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline attract large crowds. The $6.5 billion project, which would carry 760,000 barrels of oil between Alberta and a terminal in Superior, Wis., faces increasing protests from environmental and indigenous groups. A state Public Utilities Commission decision is expected next year.

8 — A new computer system for motor vehicle licensing caused delays and frustration for Minnesotans starting in July.

9 — The Vikings surge to the top of the NFC North division and a spot in the playoffs on the strength of an eight-game winning streak despite losing their starting quarterback and running back.

10 — Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers end up in court after the governor vetoed most legislative funding last May. Dayton won the court battle, but legislators found a way to fund operations in a flap over the governor's veto authority.