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ST. PAUL - Senate Democrats unveiled a second public works funding bill late Monday with less than three hours remaining in the legislative session. Sen. Keith Langseth's bill was nearly identical to the first bill, a $334 million plan Gov.
A plan to require all Minnesota school districts to join an insurance pool passed the Senate 43-23, sending it to the governor. When insurance is pooled like in the bill, the theory is that it would cost less. Opponents said districts should not be forced to join the pool, as well as expressing fears that there would be too little oversight. Some suburban lawmakers said their districts would suffer, while those in western Minnesota would see big benefits.
Senate Republicans had rare visitors at a closed-door caucus meeting Monday. Four Senate Democrats familiar with budget bills needing final approval went before their GOP counterparts to explain the funding packages. "I've never seen that before," mused Republican Sen. Steve Dille of Dassel, a 21-year legislative veteran. It is rare for private caucus meetings to be opened to others. The DFLers answered questions about bills funding public schools, health programs and state agencies and a tax package, possibly to curb floor debate.
The Gunflint Trail will fully reopen at 8 a.m.
ST. PAUL - Smoking would be banned in nearly all Minnesota workplaces, including bars, under a deal lawmakers plan to usher through both legislative chambers today. A House-Senate conference committee working on a statewide smoking ban had reached a tentative agreement earlier this week, but negotiators went back to the table Thursday after House leaders feared the bill would be rejected if it wasn't modified. The new agreement headed for the full Senate, and then the House, is a near-complete indoor ban.
ST. PAUL - Some revved-up Minnesota lawmakers are hopeful an amendment moving through the Legislature will reverse a brand-new law governing all-terrain vehicle access. The issue is sensitive to many northern Minnesota lawmakers, especially, some of whom hope to lift regulations Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed into law Tuesday. A provision in the legislation he signed - the environment and natural resources finance bill - limits ATV trail riding to paths listed on a map. "What map?" Rep.
A change in wind direction has pushed smoke from the Ham Lake fire along the Gunflint Trail to areas around the Twin Ports. "The winds have turned out of the northeast so the smoke plume has spread southwest toward Duluth," said Roman Berdes, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Duluth. The forecast calls for mostly continued dry conditions along the Gunflint Trail. "There is a chance for showers this afternoon and early this evening, but overall it should be dry, with winds out of east-north-east today, becoming light and variable tonight and picking up out of the southeast t
ALONG THE GUNFLINT TRAIL - The Ham Lake fire spotted Thursday night across Gunflint Lake to the lake's south side, home to dozens of cabins, homes and the historic Gunflint Lodge. Officials weren't able to say exactly where the fire was burning because conditions changed minute by minute. The fire's size had grown to 30,000 acres, or 46 square miles, and was active on both sides of the border. The worst scenario happened earlier Thursday when flames from the fire jumped a safety line and toward the Gunflint Lake area, forcing mandatory evacuations.
Only one event can draw the governor out of St. Paul during the final days of a contentious legislative session, as well as pull a U.S. senator out of Washington, D.C. That lure is the traditional opening of the walleye fishing season in Minnesota. And this year, the 59th annual Governor's Fishing Opener focuses on Leech Lake, with host Walker. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau will attend a number of public events today in the Walker area, while fishing starts early Saturday on Leech Lake. U.S. Sen.
The town of Cloquet is going to the dogs. From May 16-20, more than 100 of the most highly-trained canines across the country are coming to showcase their sniffing skills in the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) National Detector Dog Trials. "It's a big deal to participate at this level and to hold this event in Cloquet," said Darren Juntunen, Minnesota State Patrol sergeant canine and criminal patrol coordinator.