“A bill sponsored by DFL Senator Foung Hawj will get a hearing in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Tuesday. It would require the Department of Natural Resources to conduct an annual wolf census as well as assess public opinion on hunting wolves,” writes MPR News reporter Elizabeth Dunbar.
The bill would also ban wolf baiting within 10 miles of tribal lands and require the DNR to produce a map showing where wolves are a threat to livestock.
Maureen Hackett of the group Howling for Wolves says the DNR needs to collect more data on wolf deaths and how the hunting season affects the overall population.
“Once we get this clear understanding of all these factors, we could talk about a hunt, but until then we would suspend the hunt,” he said. “That’s what we’re asking for.”
DNR officials have said wolf population estimates are done according to standard wildlife management principles and that the agency already keeps closer tabs on wolves than most other species.
Today’s Question: Should the Minnesota wolf hunt be contingent on a census?
“[The] DNR has described a mine that functions perfectly, exactly as intended, that has no problems whatsoever…but they don’t explore scenarios in which something goes wrong.” — Kathryn Hoffman, an attorney for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
A reverse osmosis machine owned and developed by Polymet operates in a test facility Friday, September 27, 2013 in Virginia, Minn. The device will clean water coming from the mine site. Derek Montgomery / For MPR News
“Minnesotans have until Thursday to comment on the environmental analysis of the proposed PolyMet mine, a huge document containing detailed plans on how the company would keep pollutants from the mine and tailings basin out of nearby lakes and rivers. That plan hinges on new technologies and engineering that PolyMet added after its last proposal was sharply criticized four years ago,” writes MPR News reporter Dan Kraker.
Along the north side of the vast tailings impoundment, the company plans to build a five mile long wall to capture water that runs through the tailings and picks up metals, sulfate and other pollutants. Company officials are confident the process will work.
“The cut off wall that we’re putting in, that will go all the way down to bedrock,” Cherry said. “Those type[s] of technologies have been around for some time. This isn’t like a new technology that we’re trying out for the first time here.”
Similar walls have proven successful at mines from Montana to Alaska, and at landfills around the country.
But few have been built as large, said Dave Chambers, president of the Center for Science and Public Participation in Montana.
“The concern with the slurry walls that are that big,” he said, [is] “are you going to be able to guarantee that you’re going to be able to anchor that slurry wall in bedrock along that whole perimeter?”
Chambers said the bedrock could fracture beneath the wall when it’s installed, which could allow water to seep through.
Today’s Question: Are you confident the proposed PolyMet mine would avoid polluting Minnesota’s water?
“The Minnesota House overwhelmingly passed a tax bill Thursday that cuts $503 million in taxes for businesses and realigns state tax policy so that it more closely conforms with federal tax law,” writes MPR News reporter Tom Scheck.
The 126-2 vote came on the same day Gov. Mark Dayton proposed an even more robust tax cut plan in his supplemental budget. Both the governor and House leaders say the proposal needs to move quickly, but Senate leaders are indicating they want more time.
The vote comes a little over a week into the session and less than a year after Gov. Dayton and the DFL-controlled Legislature passed a budget that raised $2.1 billion in taxes. The most recent state budget forecast projects a $1.2 billion surplus in the current two-year budget cycle.
State Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said the bill should pass quickly to ensure that taxpayers waiting to file before April 15 will benefit.
“We need to do federal conformity right now because people are filing their taxes right now,” Lenczewski said during the House floor debate. “And we need to repeal those business-to-business taxes that the surplus would allow us to do.”
While the vote was nearly unanimous in the Minnesota House, some Minnesotans like Brent Strom say a tax-cut is a bad idea. “We should be utilizing that money to reinvigorate the rainy day fund and to cover the extra transportation repairs that will be needed after this winter,” he wrote. It’s “infrastructure time,” added Coleen Tully.
Today’s Question: Should the Minn. Senate pass the tax-cut bill?
“Silence has become the ultimate luxury,” writes The New Republic’s Chloe Schama. Unwanted noise is perhaps the most irksome form of sensory assault. A bothersome sight? Close your eyes or turn the other way—eyesores are, generally, immobile. An annoying taste? Spit it out. (Why was it in your mouth?) Sound, on the other hand, is Read more →
“Early signs suggest that US president Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is driving the cost of healthcare lower, according to Goldman Sachs analysts, spotlighting yesterday’s data on consumer spending and prices,” Matt Phillips writes for Quartz. While the Obamacare overhaul remains controversial in the US, budget geeks are nearly unanimous in spotlighting runaway health care Read more →
Natural gas costs are up this winter by roughly 15% according to Xcel Energy. Are you feeling the pinch of energy costs? Where are you cutting back to cover other winter-related costs? “There’s all this give and take going on at the micro level,” according to Toby Madden, an economist for the Federal Reserve Bank Read more →
I will be headed to Kyiv, Ukraine tomorrow night for discussions there Tuesday. — John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 2, 2014 “As Russia dispatched more forces and tightened its grip on the Crimean Peninsula on Sunday, President Obama embarked on a strategy intended to isolate Moscow and prevent it from seizing more Ukrainian territory even as Read more →
“The ride-sharing company Lyft announced it is kicking off its service in Minneapolis. However, Minneapolis officials say the company’s model violates city ordinances,” writes MPR News reporter Brandt Williams. “Lyft allows people to use their own cars to give other people rides. Riders can use a mobile phone app to find a participating driver in Read more →
“Both sides in a debate over electronic cigarettes conceded Wednesday there’s scant scientific evidence about the health effects of the devices, but that might not stop efforts in the Minnesota Legislature to regulate them like traditional tobacco products,” writes AP reporter Brian Bakst. “We do know enough to know that risks are here, we just Read more →
Both DFL and GOP operatives say their party stands to gain politically from President Barack Obama’s visit today to Minnesota, writes MPR News reporter Mark Zdechlik. [W]ith the president’s popularity here at an all time low, his presence may hurt Democrats at the polls in November. Republicans are tying DFLers to the president’s struggles — Read more →