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Pa00e 14 Le00als Qovernmem W00urs00a00,Februa000000,000,00 Tri- County News www. tricountynews.mn Micheile Fischbach Minnesota State Senator Week in review, Feb. 22 posals was introduced in the Sen- ate and was referred to the Tax Committee where it awaits further action. Also this week, the Judiciary Committee turned its focus to fire- arms, and began holding informa- tional hearings on many bills that have been introduced in the Sen- ate. It is expected that the chair- man will make his recommenda- tions for an omnibus bill in the coming week s , and votes on any provisions would be held at a later date. The bills mainly centered on topics of proxy purchasers, back- ground checks, mental health, This week at the Capitol, dis- cussions continued on a variety of issues including the governor's tax and budget proposals. Governor Dayton proposes to expand the sales tax to services, both those used by individuals and business to business services, and clothing over $100, while dropping the over- all tax rate to 5.5 percent. The Gov- ernor also proposes an increase in the top income tax rate, a property tax rebate for homeowners, and a so-called "snow bird tax" on Min- nesotans who spend part of the year in other states. A bill reflect- ing all of the governor's tax pro- and other similar topics. To date, no bills have been introduced in the Senate that ban or limit the possession of semi-automatic mil- itary-style assault weapons (SAM- SAWs) or size of magazines, many of which were the subject of hear- ings in the Minnesota House last week. Other happenings: The Medical Assistance bill (SF 5) was signed into law by the governor. This new law expands Medical Assistance coverage for persons up to 138 percent of the federal poverty guideline. The transportation committee heard SF 256, requiring all vehicles to always display their headlights, regardless of the time or weather. Because of concerns about law enforcement making traffic stops and issuing tickets for a simple violation of this requirement, the committee adopted an amend- ment that would make a viola- tion of this provision a second- ary offense. As such, a driver could only be cited for a violation of the "lights on" requirement if they were stopped for an unrelated vio- lation. A proposal authored by Sen; Bruce Anderson calling for state recognition of a new "Honor and Remember" flag had its ini- tial Senate hearing this week. The Honor and Remember Flag rec-" ognizes all individuals who have died as a result of serving in the United States military dating back to the founding of our nation. The Senate Education Commit- tee heard a bill this week that would repeal a requirement that prospective teachers pass a basic skills test prior to receiving licen- sure in Minnesota. The require- ment has been around for years and was strengthened last session. On Tuesday, a joint Senate-House environment committee heard public testimony on issues sur- rounding industrial sand mining in southeast Minnesota. Indus- try representatives, local govern- ment officials, chamber of com- merce representatives and con- cerned residents all provided tes- timony. No bill was heard and no action was taken. Senator Michelle Fischbach encourages and appreciates con- stituent input and can be reached by phone at (651) 296-2084, by mail to G 15 State Office Building St. Paul, MN 55155 or via e-mail at sen.michelle.fischbach@senate. /T/n. Dean Urdahl Minnesota State Representative, 18,4 Fducation issues at the forefront A few different issues pertain- ing to education arose recently at the Capitol, ranging from start dates, to K-12 funding and closing the skills gap in our workforce. I have authored a bill to form a task force which would identify ways we can provide more stu- dents opportunities at our two- year vocational schools. We have been funneling too many stu- dents to four-year institutions over the years, leaving some people in mismatched career programming and creating a growing skills gap in our state. There is a shortage of qualified employees in a variety of work- force sectors, especially manu- facturing. A survey shows close to half of Minnesota business respondents (47 percent) had posi- tions that were unfilled due to lack of qualified applicants, including 13 percent with 10 percent or more of jobs unfilled. These same respondents (53 percent) expect the skills gap to become even greater in the coming years. The task force I am working to create would improve collab- oration between K-12 educators, vocational schools and job cre- ators to better prepare our future workforce with sought-after skills. Meantime, a House commit- tee has examined the details of Gov. Mark Dayton's K-12 budget proposal. His bill would increase school spending by $344 million over the next two years with a $52 increase to the per-pupil funding formula. The governor also calls for $44 million to be used in pro- viding opportunity scholarships or "vouchers" that empower par- ents to send their kids *to early childhood programs of their choice. Dayton's proposal does not pay back $1.1 billion in delayed K-12 payments until 2017. It also does not provide contingency plans if sequestration - across-the-board federal budget cuts that may go into effect March 1 - takes place as many expect. I would like to see our eventual biennial budget plan do more to even out statewide funding inequities and close our broad achievement gap. Another education-related issue involves a hearing for a bill to allow pre-Labor Day school starts. This issue has been going on for years and is, basically, a Greater Minnesota vs. Twin Cities metro scenario. The issue of a pre-Labor Day start is most crucial in parts of the state where tourism is a major eco- nomic factor. Labor Day is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year in Minnesota and that one weekend makes a big difference in the bottom line for many busi- nesses, not just resorts. Explore Minnesota indicates tourism is an $11.9 billion industry in the state. Reports show Minne- sota's leisure and hospitality busi- nesses employed nearly 240,000 people in 2011. This represents 11 percent of our total private-sec- tor employment in 2011. Starting school before Labor Day cuts into the number of fam- ilies who are able to travel and also reduces the number of work- ers who are available to staff busi- nesses during one of the biggest rev- enue weekends of the year. We are still trying to recover from the deep- est economic downturn since the Great Depression and cannot afford to create obstacles for the job cre- ators, workers and consumers who are driving our resurgence. Steve Fields Attorney INJURED AT WORK? Lost Wages? Unpaid Bills? Can I Get Fired? FREE advice - confidential Toll Free 1-888-212-6820 www.FieldsWorkl nju ry.com Local crime blotters .Snowmobile fatality Feb. 23 Saturday, Feb. 23, at 6:54 p.m., the Meeker County Sheriffs Office received a report of an accident involv- ing a snowmobile and a train located on the railroad tracks near the 600 block of Parker Avenue East, in the city of Dassel. Meeker County Deputies, Dassel Fire and Rescue, and Gold Cross Ambulance were dispatched. The initial investigation indicated that two snowmobiles were travel- ing eastbound along, the railroad tracks within the cityofDasselat the same time as an eastbound Burlington Northem/ Santa Fe railroad train. The lead snow- mobile lost control and slid into the side of the train, several cars back from the locomotives. The snowmobile became caught on the train and was dragged down the tracks. The driver of the lead snowmobile, Paul Fenske, 31, from rural Silver Lake, was pulled under the train and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Because of the fact that the collision occurred along the side of the train, several cars back from the locomotives; the train crew was unaware of the col- lision and continued eastbound along the tracks. The train was later stopped and is currently being inspected in, an attempt to determine which rail- road car was involved in the collision. The second snowmobiler, who was an acquaintance of the victim witnessed the accident, but was not involved in the accident itself and was not injured. The Meeker County Sheriff's Office was assisted on scene by the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office, the Min- nesota State Patrol, and representatives from the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad. The accident is currently under investigation by the Meeker County Sheriffs Office and the Burlington Northem/Santa Fe Railroad. Wright County Sheriff's Office Feb.'18, Tracey Denise Davidson, 44, of Annandaie was arrested in Buf- faio on an apprehension and detention order fromWright County. Feb. 20, Samuel James Nordlie, 26, of Clearwater was arrested in Buffalo on a Wright County warrant for proba- tion violation. Feb. 20, Andrew Graham Scott, 21, of Annandale was arrested in Annan- dale on a Wright County warrant for interference with a 911 call and domes- tic assault. Feb. 21, John Raymond Evers, 27, of South Haven was arrested in Buffalo on the charge of failure to register as a predatory offender. Feb. 21, Lorrie Jean Lund, 39, of Maple Lake was arrested in Buffalo on a Wright County warrant for probation violation. Feb. 23, Jeremy David Munson, 29, no permanent address, was arrested in Clearwater Township on the charges of possession of stolen property and flee police in a motor vehicte. There were 43 property-damage accidents, 3 personal-injflry accidents,. 4 hit-and-run accidents, and 4 car-deer accidents. There were 7 arrests for DWI, 1 underage-consumption arrests, 2 school bus stop-arm violation, and 53 tickets for miscellaneous traffic vio- lations reported this weeL Meeker County Sheriff's Office Sunday. February. 24 8:34 m the Sheriffs Offx took a report of a domestic situation at a resi- dence on State Street South, Eden Valley. 5:11 p.m. the Sheriffs Office dis- patched Watkins Rescue and Ambu- lance to a snowmobile accident with injuries at a residence on 153rd Avenue, Luxemburg Township, Stearns County. One individualwas transported to the St. Cloud Hospital. 10:08 p.m. the Sheriff's Office responded to and dispatched the Wat- kins Ambulance to a medical at a resi- dence on 654th Avenue, Forest Prairie Township. One individual was trans- ported to the St. Cloud Hospital. Saturday. February 23 5:21 p.m. the Sheriffs Office received a report of a driving com- plaint southbotmd on MN Highway 15, Kingston Township. A deputy located and stopped the vehicle and warned the driver of the complaint. 7:26 p.m. the Sheriffs Office dis- patched Watkins Ambulance, par the request of the Steams County Sheriffs Office, for a medical at a residence on Linden Avenue East, City of Kimball. One individual was transported to the St. Cloud Hospital. Friday. February. 22 12:34 p.m. the Sheriffs Office dis- patchedWatkinsAmbulance to a med- ical at Powder Ridge Ski Hill, 93rd Ave- nue, Steams County. One in "dxviduai was transported to the St. Cloud Hos- pital. 4:11 p.m. the Sheriff's Office dis- patched Watkins Ambulance to a med- ical at a residence on Lueila Street, Wat- kins. One individual was transported to the St. Cloud Hospital. 6:45 p.m. the Sheriff's Office dis- patched Watkins Ambulance, per the request of the Steams County Sheriff's Office, for a medical at a residence on Carnelian Road, Maine Prairie Town- ship. One individual was transported to the St. Cloud Hospital. 8:11 p.m. the Sheriff's Office responded to an alarm at a residence on County State Aid Highway21, Kings- ton Township. The deputy checked the residence and propert 3, and found all to be okay. Thursday. February 21 6:18 a.m. the Sheriffs Office dis- patched the Watkins Ambulance for a medical at the Hiiltop Heaithcare Cen- ter, Watkins. One party was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital. 10:18 a.m. the Sheriffs Office assisted the St. Cloud Police Depart- ment by delivering a message to a party at a residence on County State Aid Highway 27, Kingston. 1:42 p.m. the Sheriff's Office arrested Bradley Jay Rennet, age 40, Eden Valley at a residence on 3rd Street South Watkins on a Meeker County warrant for a probation violation. 2:13 p.m. the Sheriffs Office took a report of theft by check at Kingston Auto, US Highway 12, Dassel Town- ship. 4:44 p:m. the Sheriffs Office took a report of a school bus stop arm viola- tion at Church Street and Central Ave- nue, Watkins. Wednesday. February. 20 1:40 a.m. the Sheriffs Office dis- patched Watkins Ambulance to a med- ical at the Hilltop Care Center, Luella Street, Watkins. One individual was transported to the St. Cloud Hospital. 4:23 a.m. the Sheriffs Office responded to a report of suspicious activity in the area of MN Highway 15 and 325th Street, Kingston Township. The deputy checked the area and spoke to the property owner who advised everything was okay. 8:58 a.m. the Sheriff's Office took a report of a stolen vehicle from a resi- dence on 648th Avenue, Forest City. 11:03 a.m. the Sheriff's Office responded to a report of an open door at a residence on 318th Street, South Haven." Upon arrival of the deputy everythingwas found to be secure. 6:17 o.m. the Sheriff's Office checked na stalled snowmobile in the ditch at 350th Street and 675th Ave- nue, Forest Prairie Township. The dep- uty spoke to the owner and everything was okay. 11:05 p.m. the Sheriff's Office dis- patched Watkins Ambulance for a medical at a residence on Hidden Lane, Steams County. Prior to the arrival of the ambulance, Steams County advised them to cancel. Tuesday. February 19 2:51 a.m. the Sheriff's Office located a stalled vehicle on 722nd Avenue, Kingston Township. The vehicle was off the roadway and not a road hazard. 7:44 a.m. the Sheriffs Office took a report of a stolen snowmobile from a residence on 645th Avenue, Forest City Township. 2:43 p.m. the Sheriffs Office took a report of a burglary at the Earl B. Olson Farm, Acton Township. 4:57 p.m. the Sheriff's Office responded to and dispatched the Wat- kins Fire Department to a carbon mon- oxide alarm at a residence on Steams Avenue North, Watkins. Upon arrival everythingwas found to be fine. 5:16 p.m. the Sheriff's Office dis- patched Watkins Ambulance to a med- ical at the Main Street Pub, Kimball. One individual was transported to the St. Cloud Hospital. 5:27 p.m. the Sheriff's Office responded to and dispatched Eden Valley Rescue to a medical at a resi- dence on Meadowlark Lane, Eden Val- ley. One individual was transported to the Paynesville Hospital by Paynesville Ambulance. 8:57 p.m. the Sheriffs Office took a report of a stolen vehicle from Kings- tonAuto, US Highway 12, DasselTown- ship. The vehicle was recovered by the Wright County SheriffsOffice. Monday, February 18 1:13 p.m. the Sheriffs Office dis- patched Watkins Ambulance. and Eden Valley Rescue for a medical at an address on State Street North, Eden Valley. One indMdual was transported to the Paynesville Hospital. 4:00 p.m. the Sheriffs Office took a report of a theft from Schmidty's gas station in Grove City. 5:47 p.m. the Sheriffs Office dis- patched Watkins Ambulance for a medical at an address in the Watkins Trailer Park. One individual was trans- ported to the Paynesville Hospital.