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ST. PAUL - How some issues fared in the Minnesota Legislature this year: Animal chiropractors: New guidelines were established for chiropractors who practice on animals, including requiring a veterinarian's referral. Biofuels: Lawmakers approved increasing blends of biodiesel to 20 percent plant oil from the current 2 percent when mixed with diesel fuel. Bonding: Legislators passed a $924 million public works funding bill, but Gov. Tim Pawlenty pared that down to $717 million. Most college and university projects survived.
ST. PAUL - The 2008 Minnesota Legislature played out much like a hockey game. In the first period, Democrats who control the Legislature used a power play to smash through a $6.6 billion transportation funding bill, a construction projects funding measure and a proposed constitutional amendment to raise sales taxes to fund outdoors and arts projects. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty began the second period by sending some state construction projects to the penalty box, over Democrats' loud objections.
Construction crews reduced traffic on the Hastings bridge to one lane for most of the past two weeks as they worked to install a platform beneath the deck to support equipment and workers during the project. That work has been delayed by inclement weather and as a result, the bridge will be down to one lane for a little longer, through Friday, May 9. MnDOT is extending the hours of single-lane traffic across the bridge. It will now be down to a single lane from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, May 5 through Friday, May 9. On Saturday, May 3, the bridge will be down to a single lane from 7 a.m.
ST. PAUL - Rep. Tom Rukavina has introduced 66 bills during the current two-year legislative session, including at least one he knew would go nowhere. It's a common story in the Minnesota Legislature. Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, submitted a measure that would have reversed a St. Louis County ruling against a childhood friend. When he introduced it, Rukavina said he "wasn't serious" about the bill. In a recent interview, Rukavina said he introduced the bill solely because his friend "was getting screwed.
ST. PAUL - Rep. Bernie Lieder is a member of the "Greatest Generation," but he never would use such a term about himself. So it was with reluctance that he accepted recognition Thursday when the Minnesota House honored the Crookston Democrat and his fellow World War II veterans. "I'm only one of the whole group, and I hate to be singled out," said Lieder, who told fellow lawmakers he appreciated that the veterans were acknowledged. The House adopted a resolution commending veterans and other Minnesotans for their contributions during the war.
Minnesota schools should be allowed to shorten their school days, representatives decided Monday while debating an education policy bill. House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, wanted to prohibit schools from shortening their school days in future academic years. He said school days are getting shorter, but there is even more students must learn. "For goodness sakes," Seifert said during a floor debate, "could we at least agree that the school day shouldn't be any shorter?" Rep.
School districts would be required to offer a comprehensive sexual education program to students in grades 7 to 12 under a bill the Minnesota House passed after an hours-long debate stretched into late Monday. Representatives voted 79-53 to include the sex education provision in an education policy bill after a sometimes emotional debate. Supporters said schools should teach students about abstinence and provide information youth need to make responsible decisions about sexuality. Some opponents said a full-fledged sex education program does not belong in classrooms.
Representatives decided Minnesota welfare recipients should be prohibited from using state-funded cash assistance to buy alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets. House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, and others said on Monday that taxpayer dollars that go toward welfare should not be spent on those products. Seifert's amendment to a welfare and child assistance bill passed 101-28. The full bill then was passed by the House. Democrats who opposed the amendment said it was a partisan "gotcha" vote and that more should be done to help Minnesotans avoid needing welfare.
Minnesota representatives voted Monday to eliminate a plan calling for a doctor's order before a daycare provider places an infant on its back or stomach for sleep. Opponents of the measure said it strips parental rights; supporters said it was aimed at reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The House voted 88-42 to remove the provision from a welfare and child assistance bill, which was approved 104-27.
WORTHINGTON -- It does snow in late April -- even in early May, for that matter -- but for those of us who have endured a seemingly endless winter, it's time for spring to, well, spring. That sentiment rings especially true for farmers, who await cooperation from Mother Nature to provide a series of long days filled with sunshine. The weekly crop-weather report issued by the Minnesota Field Office of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service on Monday showed just 1 percent of total corn acreage in the state had been planted, and only 3 percent of corn ground was ready for seed as o