Representative Paul Anderson will be co-hosting a series of town hall meetings with Senator Torrey Westrom early next month. The plan is for a March 8-9 swing through a number of cities and towns all across District 12B. In other business Anderson has introduced a bill to test for radon when a home’s title is transferred. He says his intent is to at least let a buyer know if a radon problem exists on a property. Anderson says he’s working with people who have an interest in this issue to make sure we have legislation that is reasonable for all parties.
Minnesota’s ice fishing shelter removal dates are approaching, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Dark houses, fish houses and portables must be off the ice of inland waters no later than midnight on March 4th in the southern two-thirds of the state and March 18 in the northern third. Enforcement action will be taken if shelters are left after the deadlines. Those not removing shelters will be prosecuted. Conservation officers may remove the structure and confiscate or destroy it. It is also unlawful to store or leave a shelter at a public access. After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended. It is unlawful to improperly dispose of ice fishing shacks anywhere in the state. Anglers should check with local refuse providers or landfills for disposal.
Congressman Collin Peterson says high-school students who live in Minnesota's Seventh District are welcome to submit their artwork for the 2013 Congressional Art Competition. The competition is open to all high-school students, and the overall winner of each participating district will be displayed for one year in the Cannon Tunnel leading into the U.S. Capitol. The deadline for all submissions is April 22nd. For more information and guidelines for submission, go to Peterson’s website.
House and Senate leaders held a legislative commission on planning and fiscal policy hearing last week to discuss Minnesota’s structural budget problem. House Speaker Paul Thissen says they heard presentations from non-partisan budget experts on the state’s budget decisions since 2001. The Office of Minnesota Management and Budget delivered a presentation on the price of government over the past two decades. Thissen says the commission provides a fact based review of past state budget solutions that will aid legislators as they work to bring Minnesota’s budget back to long-term structural balance. They focused on how they’ve solved budget deficits over the last ten years. They’ve had about $18 billion dollars to solve in ten years and the vast majority of that has been done through cuts and accounting shifts. Only a tiny amount, less than seven percent, has been through new revenue coming in, he said, so if they really are talking about once and for all balancing the budget they ought to focus on a truly balanced approach. He said historic information tells them what they’ve done in the past hasn’t worked.
Shortly before 7:30 yesterday morning (Monday), the Renville County Sheriff’s Office was called to a crash involving a school bus and truck-tractor. The crash happened at the Renville County Road 1 and 810th Avenue intersection about two miles south of Danube. A school bus driven by 65 year old Gerald Mulder of Renville and a truck-trailer towing an empty tanker trailer driven by 36 year old David Mcclain of Willmar were traveling north on County Road 1. Mulder missed his turn because of the fog and had stopped on the roadway at the intersection. Mcclain collided with the back of the bus causing significant damage to both vehicles. There were two children on the bus at the time of the crash. there were no injuries. Also on the scene were the Minnesota State Patrol, Olivia and Danube Police Departments.
A broadside crash yesterday morning (Monday) killed 62 year old Karen Simmons of Glenwood, and injured 19 year old Haley Klimek of Lowry. The crash happened at the Highway 29 and Pope County Road 28 intersection north of Glenwood. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, 19 year old Haley Klimek of Lowry was traveling east on County Road 28 and struck Simmons who was traveling north on State Highway 29. Klimek was taken to the Glenwood Hospital with minor injuries. Assisting the state patrol at the scene was the Pope County Sheriff’s Office.
U.S. Senators returned to Washington DC yesterday (Monday) to work against a March 1 sequestration deadline, leaving Congress with four days to reach a solution or face across-the-board cuts. Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar says she knows Minnesotans need a solution that doesn't cut too deep. The problem with sequestrations is that it does just that, she says, affecting everything from education to agriculture, meat inspections, to food programs. Klobuchar says she wants to see a reduction in deficit spending with a more measured approach than deep sequestration cuts.
The state-wide drought has led to a shift in hydrology, says the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and they want to dig more wells across the state to monitor changes in the state's water reserves. Representative Andrew Falk of rural Murdock says a bill now in the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee would give the DNR power to start drilling. Falk describes Minnesota as a "net-output" state; most of the state's waters do not originate in the state, but flow or fall into the state. In addition, the state's water flows out of the state via several watersheds. That unpredictable water input and continual water outflow has depleted the state's aquifers, says Falk. To keep a closer eye on the state's water reserves, the DNR is proposing digging about 7,000 wells across the state, over a period of several years. The bill, as written, does not assign a budget to the project. Falk says it will likely be given a monetary appropriation at a later date, contingent on approval by the Minnesota Legislature.
The Morris FFA Chapter has grown to 100 members in the last year, making the chapter one of the larger groups in the state. And the large group has been doing well competitively. Chapter President Brooke Wente says several of the regional competitions have taken place and Morris members have excelled. All teams that have competed thus far in regional competitions are advancing to state competition in April. The group continues to host a weekly agriculture learning program with the district's first grade classes and are planning their annual Ag in the Classroom trip to metro schools.
The University of Minnesota, Morris will host Christian Lander and Elon James White in a convocation tonight (Tuesday). Lander, creator of the pop culture phenomenon Stuff White People Like, and White, the award-winning creator of This Week in Blackness, address the question of what it means to be "post-racial" in their Post Racial Comedy Tour. The comedians will speak at 7:30 in the Student Center's Edson Auditorium.
Representative Mary Franson of Alexandria has introduced the Family Freedom Act, legislation that would prohibit the unionization of independent contractors. She says families who are running businesses out of their homes or people who have hired personal care attendants should not have to worry about the additional cost that unionization imposes on their business or cost of care. She says this legislation ensures that those who are hired as independent contractors do not have split loyalties between the families they work for and the union bosses who want more money from hard-working people. The bill is waiting for a hearing in the House Labor, Workforce, and Regulated Industries Committee.
The Willmar Community Owned Grocery will kick off its Foodie Film Festival on Thursday night, the first of three different films that will be shown on three different nights. This first movie, showing Thursday night, is “Fresh,” the second is on March 19th called ‘Dirty Work: A Story of Elsie’s Farm,’ and the third is on April 25 called ‘Economics of Happiness.’ They are all shown at 6:30 at the Barn Theatre in Willmar. The films are free and open to the public.
According to the Willmar Police Department’s Facebook page, the department has been fielding questions about automated calls that appear to be generated from the police or sheriff's office, warning residents of burglaries and offering free alarm systems. While the Willmar Police Department and other law enforcement agencies support alarm installation they don’t endorse any specific alarm providers nor offer alarms. They urge caution that ‘free’ usually ‘isn’t.’