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Political Notebook: Sunday booze up for debate

ST. PAUL -- Whether Minnesota retailers should sell alcohol on Sundays will be debated by a Senate committee Wednesday, perhaps the first time that has happened.

ST. PAUL -- Whether Minnesota retailers should sell alcohol on Sundays will be debated by a Senate committee Wednesday, perhaps the first time that has happened.

Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, promotes the idea after seeing Minnesotans drive over bridges to buy booze in Superior, Wis. His bill would repeal Minnesota law that prohibits the sales, known as a blue law.

"Minnesota's current statute prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays puts our state at a competitive and economic disadvantage, particularly in communities that border Wisconsin," Reinert said.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States reports that Minnesotans' purchases account for 3.1 percent of Wisconsin liquor sales.

"This hearing is a critical first step in getting the bill passed," Reinert said. "The bill must pass the committee in order to move to a vote on the Senate floor."

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Ties, flags and colors

From the you-probably-never-even-wondered-about-it department, the University of Minnesota's Eric Ostermeier reports what color tie each male governor wears in his official portrait.

And he list what flags, if any, governors use as props in their pictures.

In his Smart Politics blog, Ostermeier reports that 22 male governors wore red ties, 11 blue and four yellow. And, for what it is worth, three men wore no ties.

Ostermeier does not stop there. He breaks it down by party, showing that 15 Republicans and seven Democrats picked red ties, while six Democrats and five Republicans opted for blue ties. And for the record, the only independent governor wore a yellow tie.

Thirty-two governors' portraits include flags in the background, 21 of which featured both American and state flags. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana outdid the rest; he went with two American and two state flags.

Since you probably are wondering, a dozen Republicans wore flag pins on their lapels, while only one Democrat did. They mostly were American flag pins, but two, including North Dakota's Jack Dalrymple, wore state pins.

For his portrait, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton sat in front of an American and a Minnesota flag, wore a blue tie and left lapel pins at home.

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Hemp support grows

The House Agriculture committee backs a bill allowing Minnesota farmers to grow hemp.

The committee approved the bill by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, even though the federal Drug Enforcement Administration does not allow hemp farming. The bill does not allow hemp to be grown until federal authorities change the rules.

Hemp is in the same plant family as marijuana and debate over growing it has occurred in many states over the years, including North Dakota. It can be used to make paper, clothing and other products.

More vets sought

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., joined with other senators to introduce a bill designed to increase the number of veterinarians.

Every state faces a veterinarian shortage, she said.

"We cannot underestimate the importance of veterinarians to our agricultural and rural communities," Klobuchar said. "With the demand for veterinarians increasing, removing financial barriers for vets who are interested in serving in high-need areas will help improve access to critical services for our animals and protect public health."

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The bill, with sponsors from across the country, would expand an education loan program with rules that encourage veterinarians to practice in rural communities where shortages are a special problem. In some cases, loans could be forgiven.

No clones wanted

Minnesota's largest anti-abortion group supports a bill to ban human cloning.

Minnesota Citizens Con-cerned for Life released a statement saying it backs the bill by Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake.

"Human life must be treated with dignity, not as mere raw material for ex-perimentation," said MCCL's Jordan Marie Bauer. "This bill will ensure that human life at its earliest stages will be protected from efforts to duplicate, dissect and destroy it."

Prettner Solon named

Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon will serve on the Na-tional Lieutenant Governors' Association Executive Committee.

The association includes officeholders next in line to succession to the governor of each of the 50 states and ter-ritories.

"The challenges facing Minnesota are also facing state governments across the country," Prettner Solon said. "I am confident that the ideas shared and partner-ships forged between us will result real in real, tangible benefits to the people we serve."

Panel OKs ag plate

The Minnesota Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill to create an agriculture car license plate.

The bill by Sen. Gary Ku-bly, DFL-Granite Falls, or-ders the transportation commissioner to consult with farm organizations when designing the plate.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

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