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FARMINGTON — U.S. Sen. Al Franken ranked dairy farmers' struggles among his top priorities for a new federal farm bill Franken, a Democrat, met Tuesday with Minnesota Farmers Union members from six southeastern Minnesota counties to discuss priorities for a new federal farm bill. The current bill, enacted in 2014, will expire next year.
ST. PAUL — Activists and a handful of Minnesota lawmakers say an amendment to a House energy and jobs bill would allow oil companies to sidestep public and environmental review of pipelines. House Energy Chairman Pat Garofalo said an amendment to his energy bill would allow Canadian oil company Enbridge to replace Line 3, a decades-old pipeline, under an agreement with the federal government.
ST. PAUL—The Minnesota House and Gov. Mark Dayton want to provide the University of Minnesota with an additional $14 million over two years to help train physicians to work in greater Minnesota. The state funding would replace a portion of the revenue generated by nonprofit insurance provider UCare. The Minneapolis-based UCare donated money for a decade to the university's family medicine department to support residency programs for primary care doctors who plan to practice in rural Minnesota communities.
Audra Quandt, a Red Wing mother of two, described a "tug-of-war" between the needs of her children when the family would take trips to the playground. As her older daughter climbed on the equipment, her younger daughter, Erica, who was born with cerebral palsy, was limited to how she could play. "I would have to carry her through the playground equipment, and that was really physically taxing after a while," Quandt remembers.
ST. PAUL — Bus services throughout greater Minnesota could add up to 100,000 service hours with extra funding from a new state grant. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle announced a $23.7 million in grants to expand transit services throughout the state on Thursday, March 30. The grants will be divvied among 23 bus service providers. Individual grants range from $47,300 to the Hibbing bus system to $4 million for St. Cloud Metro Transit.
ST. PAUL — Another tuition freeze could be on the horizon for students at Minnesota State colleges and universities. Finance bills from the state House and Senate call for a halt to rising tuition costs within the Minnesota State system. Sen. Michelle Fischbach, Senate higher education chairwoman, penned a bill that would block state colleges and universities from raising tuition from 2016-2017 rates for two years.
ST. PAUL — A southwestern Minnesota company is fishing for state aid to open two indoor shrimp farms. Michael Ziebell, president of trū Shrimp, said the operations his company proposes offer an opportunity for economic gain throughout the state. The farms would use at least 80 percent Minnesota-grown food for the shrimp. He was one of two people to testify in favor of a House bill that would provide Minnesota shrimp farmers up to $5 million in annual incentives from the state.
ST. PAUL—Signs of homelessness in small Minnesota communities are not always as obvious as in bigger cities. While people without a roof over their head may be able to stay at a shelter or apply for housing projects in urban cities, homeless populations in rural communities may be hundreds of miles away from the nearest shelter. Some will stay with family members or friends. Others will seek shelter in fish houses on frozen lakes, heated dog houses or vacant trailers.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans could bypass the permit process to carry a gun if a House bill became law. Another bill would eliminate the legal requirements to retreat before implementing deadly force for self-defense outside the home. House Public Safety Chairman Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, will consider both bills while drafting his overall public safety legislation. Testifiers addressed a House public safety committee on both bills in a packed meeting room Wednesday, March 8.
ST. PAUL — Three sexual assault survivors told Minnesota legislators that current criminal sentencing procedures endanger children. They testified at a House public safety committee meeting Tuesday, March 7 in favor of a bill that would: • Eliminate some plea agreements that let sex offenders avoid prison. • Mandate minimum sentences for child pornography. • Require that some sex offenders remain under supervision for life, even after they get out of jail or prison.