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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
Recent Activity
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Talk about one of the ultimate Friday summer night legislative news dump. At the Fargo Forum, Don Davis reports in Speaker changes, allows lawmakers to get pay raise: Minnesota House members will get pay raises after all. House Speaker Kurt Daudt announced Friday night, July 21, that he will instruct House staffers to begin paying representatives $45,000 a year, matching what senators have been receiving. The decision came after two lawmakers sued him for not allowing the raises, which were ordered by an independent commission voters established last year to set legislative pay. Daudt said as recently as Wednesday that... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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On Wednesday, a Judge says Dayton wrong when he 'effectively abolished the Legislature,' ruling that a line-item veto of funding for the Minnesota House and Senate violated the state constitution. We agree, and would rather have seen the governor veto bills he didn't like to bring legislative leaders back to the table. The "they started it first" with a poison pill defunding the Department of Revenue puts both sides in schoolyard mumblety-peg territory. But there's more to the story of funding the legislature, related to our earlier post, MN Speaker Daudt doesn't like state constitution as much as Senate Majority... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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A week and a half ago, Bluestem reported Michele Bachmann to give keynote speech at Carver Conservative PAC gubernatorial forum. Covering the event for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, David Montgomery reports in Michele Bachmann warns about ‘radical Islam: “The next governor of Minnesota needs to understand the problems and the complications we have dealing with the issue of radical Islam. There are very, very few who do,” said Bachmann. It was one of several times that she referred to what the next governor needed to do, including a specific reference to “if I were governor.” Montgomery tweeted the moment,... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Is the Republican side of the First District congressional contest about to turn into the stuff of a Judd Apatow film, a Harlequin romance or a Southern Minnesota House of Cards? Only time will tell. The original headline for the Rochester Post Bulletin article at this link (Google cache) about the recently disclosed relationship between Jennifer Carnahan, the relatively new state chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, and Jim Hagedorn, the Washington DC-to-Blue Earth transplant running for Minnesota's First Congressional District seat was "GOP: No conflict of interest in Hagedorn-Carnahan relationship." Now we're having a difficult time finding that... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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With the release of the US House of Representative's GOP budget plan, the Farm Bill is in play. Minnesotans have several opportunities coming their way in the next few weeks to share their concerns about the new Farm Bill. Politico's Morning Agriculture newsletter reports on Tuesday: It's official: The House GOP's budget, hot off the press this morning, calls for $10 billion in spending cuts to agricultural programs over the next decade. The 63-page budget plan doesn't stipulate how the House Agriculture Committee should find the savings, but it does recommend reining in SNAP spending by promoting "state flexibility," without... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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The report from the University of Minnesota's Energy Transition Lab, “Modernizing Minnesota’s Grid: An Economic Analysis of Energy Storage Opportunities,” may sport a matter-of-fact title, but its content is electrifying, according to a release from the lab: Energy Storage Paired with Solar Found to Be More Cost Effective in Minnesota Today than Natural Gas Peaking Plants As federal policy on renewable energy is being rolled back, a new UMN-led report finds that when environmental benefits are considered combined energy storage and solar arrays can be a more cost-effective alternative in Minnesota – implementable today – to natural gas peaking plants,... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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President Donald Trump doesn't kill farmers; rather, tractors without rollbars are more likely to kill farmers. Accidentally. But the Trump administration plan to kill federal funding for a tractor rollbar safety program may put farmers in jeopardy. State efforts to retrofit farm equipment with rollbars enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the legislature in recent years. In 2016, the Star Tribune reported in Minnesota takes big step to improve safety on farms: Minnesota will have the nation’s best-funded tractor safety plan now that Gov. Mark Dayton has signed off on legislation that creates the state’s first program to help farmers add... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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At Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), Tim Pugmire reports in Difference between Minn. senators, House reps? $14K(originally titled Pay gap develops at Minnesota Capitol as the language in the URL and the MPR Daily Digest headline Daily Digest: Self imposed pay gap suggest): “I have always said, when it’s a constitutionally directed mandate, that we are just going to follow that,” said Sen. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. “I don’t see any way around it.” Gazelka, R-Nisswa, stressed that he would have reduced salaries if that had been the council’s recommendation. He said a Senate hiring freeze will help make sure there’s... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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People in the sprawling Senate District 17--which stretches from Appleton to Buffalo Lake--can share their thoughts with their state senator and state representatives on Saturday, July 22. Since state representative Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, is running for congress in the Seventh Congressional District, there's likely to be a bit of national interest in his performances at the Montevideo and Benson town halls. From the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus: Residents of Senate District 17 are invited to attend a series of town hall meetings hosted by Sen. Andrew Lang (R-Olivia), Rep. Dave Baker (R-Willmar), and Rep. Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) on Saturday, July... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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A Minnesota native who's returned to campaign for office in First Congressional District (and who'd not named Jim Hagedorn, a Republican who's done so twice), Dan Feehan may have the right stuff to keep the right-leaning seat in Democratic hands. At the Mankato Freee Press, Trey Mewes reports in Feehan announces campaign for Congress: As Dan Feehan sees it, people need to get involved if they want things to improve. That 's what the 34-year-old North Mankato resident says motivated him to join the Army, teach math to middle school students, work for the Department of Defense and ultimately work... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
Respect to @RepTimWalz & @RHamilton542 for attending & participating in the #Worthington Public Forum on policing #mnleg pic.twitter.com/kfu5oYxhQ2 — Dale Moerke (@demoerke) July 10, 2017 In the Worthington Globe, Karl Evers-Hillstrom reports in Forum on policing maintains emotional, but respectful tone: Around 275 people showed up to St. Mary’s Church on a hot Sunday afternoon to a forum that focused on policing in Worthington, specifically in regard to racial profiling and excessive force. A panel consisting of Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle, Worthington Police Chief Troy Appel, Sergeant Brett Wiltrout, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton listened... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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In DL Online staff writer Nathan Bowie's article, Nursing homes in the crosshairs of GOP health plan: Big turnout for healthcare forum in Detroit Lakes, we read this nugget: It's a sign of the times that a Detroit Lakes police officer stood in front of a Holiday Inn banquet room Thursday night, full of several hundred people who came to talk about health insurance. As it turns out, he had an easy time of it. There were no fist fights, yelling, or even cross words. Though passionate at times, people who lined up to ask questions were almost all respectful,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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She's back! Former Minnesota Sixth District Congresswoman and unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann will be the keynote speaker at an annual hog roast fundraiser, Alpha News' Anders Koskinen reports in Carver County Hosting MN Gubernatorial Forum July 19: Alpha News will be co-hosting a gubernatorial forum with the Carver County Conservative Political Action Committee on July 19. The forum is part of the Carver County Conservative PAC’s 8th Annual Hog Roast, and will include a speech by keynote speaker, former U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Bachmann was also a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. She finished... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Many Greater Minnesota residents like to think of themselves as producers, rather than consumers. That ethic applies not only to food, but renewable, clean energy as well. An event this coming weekend demonstrates this piece of rural identity. Via the Land Stewardship Project: Pastures A Plenty and the Boike farm are hosting a field day featuring their solar and wind installations on Saturday, July 15. The event will begin at Pastures A Plenty at 1 p.m., and then move on to the Boike farm to view the wind installation at about 3 p.m. There will be a short presentation by... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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News went out Thursday across ag media that Conaway and Peterson announce new farm bill listening sessions. The Peterson in the headline is Minnesota Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Ag Committee. The Minnesota listening session will take place at Farmfest on Thursday, August 3: The Next Farm Bill …… Conversations in the Field Hosted by U.S. House Ag Committee Chairman Michael Conway (TX) and U.S. House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (MN) The news item reports: The sessions will be crucial, Conaway and Peterson say, to determine how well the current farm programs... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Public comment periods are an important tool for citizens to be able to weigh in on permits and policy. A press release from Clean Up The River Environment (CURE) comes our way that reveals a gap in this tool in Greater Minnesota, where small newspapers are often the only venue for local news. To sustain themselves, these papers often charge for announcements and notices, since the advertising base is so small. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency isn't paying for notices about the reissuance of an irrigation permit for the Beardsley Wastewater Treatment Facility in Big Stone County. Beardsley's a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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When former state senator Branden Petersen announced his retirement in July 2015, followed by his sudden resignation later that year in September, press reaction was generally sympathetic to the plight of the young lawmaker. At the City Pages, Michael Rietmulder reported in Sen. Branden Petersen is leaving the Legislature: Branden Petersen is so over parades. Fortunately, the state senator's offseason regimen of town processions, spaghetti dinners and general glad handing – standard fare for active politicians – is lighter after announcing this month he’s not seeking reelection after his term ends next year. But it wasn't a disdain for shabby... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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From the Office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton: The town hall meetings build on the momentum from Governor Dayton’s “25 by 25” Water Quality goal proposal, announced earlier this year. “All Minnesotans have a stake in water that’s safe for drinking, swimming, and fishing,” said Governor Dayton. “These town hall meetings will further the important conversations already happening across Minnesota around water quality. Together we can develop strategies and solutions that work for all of our communities.” The State of Minnesota will host ten town hall meetings in communities across the state from late July through early October. These meetings... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Back in April, we'd reported on how a GOP plan to steal MN's share of VW emission fraud bucks from MPCA may cost state big time. Fortunately, the language didn't make it into Minnesota statute and the potential loss of funds was avoided. KARE-11 reports in MN lawmakers weigh in on Volkswagen settlement money: Minnesota is getting $47 million in settlement funds over Volkswagen's emissions cheating scandal. The automaker admitted many of its diesel cars used software that allowed them to show false results. A group of Minnesota DFL Lawmakers submitted a letter last week to the Minnesota Pollution Control... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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It's the Fourth of July and it's hotter than a bag of melted gummy treats outside in lovely Ortonville. Bluestem is headed out to enjoy the pristine waters of Big Stone Lake, and we leave you with National Public Radio's marvelous annual reading of the Declaration of Independence: It's wonderful prose, still worth reviewing after all these years. All banter aside, we're grateful for the courage of those leaders so many years ago. Please help support Bluestem Prairie It's summer, time for another appeal to our readers for support. If you value Bluestem's distinctive discussion of Minnesota politics from a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Deep in Gunnar Olson's story in the Faribault Daily News, Citizenship course aims to help area residents become Americans, there's this: The eight-week course, which takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. each Thursday at the Faribault Diversity Coalition’s offices in Faribault, aims to teach those eligible people how to become citizens by passing the test and completing the required paperwork. Groups of volunteers from Sembrando Poder and the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee will help the class’s participants file the required paperwork free of charge, with the applicant covering the federal filing fee. In addition, the volunteers will... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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The lede in Dan Linehan's article in the Mankato Free Press, Medicaid cuts would be dramatic in region; Caseload has grown by 50 percent, demonstrates the scale of potential changes coming to Blue Earth County and nearby communities should the Republican plan to replace the ACA, called the American Health Care Act, become law: On Jan. 1, 2014, millions of low-income Americans became eligible for free or cheap health insurance from the government as part of the Affordable Care Act. In Blue Earth County, the effect has been dramatic: In just three years, the number of Medicaid (or Medical Assistance)... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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On Thursday, the Star Tribune carried Associated Press writer Seth Borenstein's article, Large study links key pesticide to weakened honeybee hives. Asked for comment by Borenstein, spokesters for Bayer and Sygenta polished a turd in the data and proclaimed neoicotinoids blameless. It's still a turd. Borenstein reports: A common and much-criticized pesticide dramatically weakens already vulnerable honeybee hives, according to a new massive field study in three European countries. For more than a decade, the populations of honeybees and other key pollinators have been on the decline, and scientists have been trying to figure out what's behind the drop, mostly... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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While Rep. Josh Heintzeman would like to throw the book at criminal offenders, he's not much into raising penalties on game-hogs or egregious poachers. Bluestem draws this conclusion after learning of a 2016 vote in the Environment and Natural Resources committee and reading Cory Zurowski's story, The DNR's biggest illegal trapping case ever only yields a suspended sentence, in Thursday's online version of City Pages: Kottom would be charged [in 2002/3] with six crimes, including possession of prohibited wild animals. He was convicted of three. The harshest of his punishment, according to state records, was two years of supervised probation.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Outdoor News and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report that a new Canadian study suggests chronic wasting disease (CWD) might be transferred to humans. In Macaque study heightens concerns about human susceptibility to CWD, Journal Sentinel columnist Paul Smith reports: Macaque monkeys contracted chronic wasting disease after eating meat from CWD-positive deer, according to Canadian researchers. The findings are the first known oral transmissions of the prion disease to a primate and have heightened concerns of human susceptibility to CWD. “The assumption was for the longest time that chronic wasting disease was not a threat to human health,” said Stefanie Czub,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie