ST. PAUL—Public high school students in Minnesota will not likely be allowed to earn credits at private schools as one piece of legislation proposed. Neither the state House nor Senate included in larger education bills a proposal to allow credits earned at private schools, including religious schools, to count towards up to one-third of graduation requirements. No hearing was scheduled in the House. In the Senate, the bill was discussed in a hearing, but never made it any further.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton agree that more funding is needed to house Minnesota children whose mental illnesses require residential treatment. Health and human services funding proposals from Dayton, the House and Senate each include more than $6 million in funding over two years to offset looming losses of federal funding. The state is slated to lose federal money in 2018, which would include children's residential mental health facilities with more than 16 beds.
ST. PAUL—Widows and widowers of disabled military veterans in Minnesota could be eligible for a permanent property tax exemption after their spouses die under a bill working its way through the state Legislature. Current Minnesota law allows an eight-year limit for surviving spouses to benefit from an exemption of either $150,000 or $300,000 market value, depending on the veteran's level of disability. Once the exemption runs out, property taxes can create an especially challenging financial situation for spouses of Vietnam veterans, legislation supporters say.
ST. PAUL — The City of Madelia will receive $1.4 million in aid to help recover from a fire that destroyed much of the south central Minnesota community's downtown last year. The city sits on the northeastern edge of Watonwan County, in south central Minnesota, and will receive $296,000 to help offset property taxes spent on rebuilding the downtown businesses. The funding was part of a bill Gov. Mark Dayton signed Friday, March 10, that also includes $5 million to replace wetlands affected by road construction throughout the state.
ST. PAUL—A few years ago, Minnesota law enforcement considered one pound of methamphetamine a sizable drug bust. Today, a methaphetamine seizure operation can yield between five and 35 pounds. Drug task forces seized a record 488 pounds of meth throughout the state in 2016, a more than 484 percent increase from 2009, state and local law enforcement officials said Monday, March 6. In just one year, meth seizures have more than doubled.
ST. PAUL—A bobby pin left on a bathroom counter might go unnoticed in most homes, but the tiny object sparked a larger discussion about home child care regulations in Minnesota. For child care providers like Julie Seydel, who has been licensed in Anoka County for 14 years, a stray bobby pin could be seen as a choking hazard by state licensors and result in a $200 fine. The pressure to meet requirements like these, Seydel said, creates an especially tense environment for her teenage daughter.
ST. PAUL—Cigarette smoke seems to be a constant presence in Cayanne Korder's life. The Red Wing High School sophomore does not smoke herself, but her mother, stepfather, brother and two older sisters do. Two cousins around her age picked up the habit by the time they were 13. "It's a terrible habit, I can't stand it," Korder said. "I'm an athlete, so to me, it's a health issue." Korder was one of nearly 300 youth advocates to gather recently at the Minnesota state Capitol with anti-smoking group ClearWay Minnesota's Smoke Free Generation coalition.
ST. PAUL—Advocates for the construction of two new state-run veterans homes in greater Minnesota say they may have finally gained legislative footing in a decade-long pursuit of state funding. The House Veterans Affairs Division unanimously approved a bill Monday, Feb. 20 that would appropriate $16 million in bond funds to construct a home in Bemidji and Montevideo. Minnesota operates five veterans homes throughout the state at least 100 miles from both communities.
ST. PAUL — As the median age of Minnesotans creeps higher, the state's changing demography signals economic struggles for rural communities. Employers in small towns and rural parts of greater Minnesota face the challenge of replacing a wave of baby boomers approaching retirement as a burgeoning number of younger residents leave rural areas. A recent study by the State Demographic Center found that the number of deaths in rural counties has exceeded the number of births since 2000, driving down the population in each county by an average of 200 people per year.
ST. PAUL—When Lee Carlson entered his career in public education nearly 30 years ago, aspiring teachers could expect to compete with hundreds of other applicants hoping to work in a Minnesota classroom. Carlson described a "gauntlet" of applications and interviews before landing a job in St. James, a small town about 40 miles southwest of Mankato, where he still teaches high school English. This year, the community's 1,000-student school district offered its newest teacher a job months in advance of the September start date.