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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
Recent Activity
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Tuesday, Chris Steller reported in the Session Daily, Conferees on jobs and energy begin to iron out their differences: John Linc Stine, commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency, highlighted a policy concern with the House bill, which would prohibit spending money from the Clean Air Act settlement with Volkswagen without legislative approval. He said the provision puts Minnesota’s $47 million share of the national settlement at risk. Midwest Energy News' Frank Jossi fleshes out that concern in Advocates leery as Minnesota legislators seek role in VW settlement: As Minnesota lawmakers seek more oversight over how $47 million in Volkswagen settlement... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Bluestem Prairie
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Earlier this month, the Rochester Post Bulletin's Answer Man considered the fact that Some worry that Zip Rail is an unkillable zombie: Dear Answer Man, will you answer this once and for all: Is Zip Rail dead or is it not dead? It's dead. But what if Zip Rail just looks dead and is a zombie, just waiting for the right moment to get back on track? At some point down the road, some brave souls may try another plan for a high-speed passenger train between Rochester and the Twin Cities. But I guarantee you that if they do, it... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Citizens worried about lead poisoning eagles--the U of M's Raptor Center's discussion is here--or stunting the growth of children's brains can just get over it, if Nisswa Republican state representative Josh Heintzemann is to be believed. In Monday's Brainerd Dispatch article, Ruud, Heintzeman differ on environment policy, Zach Kayser reports: . . . An existing lead shot ban in waterfowl hunting was legislated by state lawmakers in 1987 but the DNR wanted to expand that ban unilaterally, he said. And if the lead shot ban were to come before the Legislature, it would be voted down, he said. "I don't... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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In a guest column in the Waseca Daily News, Keep rural Minnesota strong, Goodhue County farmer and Land Stewardship Project member Dale Post writes: In rural Minnesota, we want a say in what goes on in our community. That is why the very largest factory farms must do environmental review before they are built. I know firsthand how important this is because outside interests are trying to push a factory hog farm into my township in Goodhue County. The proposers didn’t want to listen to me or my neighbors or give us details. But because of environmental review they had... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Governor Dayton has made clear his preference for "clean" budget bills, and the provision in the House Public Safety bill for leasing or buying the CoreCivic (the human traffickers formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America/CCA) private, for-profit prison in Appleton illustrates the merit for this concern. In the Morris Sun Tribune article, MN private prison remains in discussion, but without money, Forum Communications political writer Don Davis reports: A closed western Minnesota private prison would be allowed to take state prisoners under a proposal in front of legislative budget negotiators, but there would be no money to open it.... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Representative Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, fretted at a fringe rally last weekend about America entering a period of civil war as he campaigns for the Republican endorsement in Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District. Meanwhile, Congressman Peterson and Miller's Republican colleagues in Senate District 17 are taking on a real problem. Via a press release, the Fargo Forum reports in Rep. Peterson to host opioid crisis forum: U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson will host a bipartisan legislative forum to discuss the opioid crisis at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in rural Spicer. State legislators, Sen. Andrew Lang,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem received a press release from the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, "a coalition of more than 70 environmental, conservation, and civic organizations working together for clean water, clean energy and protection of our Great Outdoors." The Minnesota Environmental Partnership "engages state leaders, unites environmental efforts and helps citizens take action for the Minnesota they love." We'll be on the bus coming from Western Minnesota tomorrow, secretly hoping to engage Representative Backer in our plot to start a high-stakes ladies-only game of Hearts in Minnesota House retiring room. Here's the press release: A coalition of over forty Minnesota organizations will host a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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We'll leave the mocking of Saturday's pro-Trump rally in Willmar to the capable keyboarding of Mike Mullen at the City Pages; his take in 'Celebrate President Trump' rally in Willmar features talk of voter fraud, 'civil war' contains some fun fact-checking and video, as well as photos of the ginormous crowds state representative Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, predicted in March. Much of Mullen's fodder was provided by Shelby Lindrud's article in the West Central Tribune, Willmar conservatives rally for President Trump. Mullen's piece make it easy to understand why representative Dave Baker and senator Andrew Lang, Republicans who actually represent Willmar... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Two news items from across the state catch Bluestem's eye today. They're both instructive about what Republican control of the Minnesota legislature means. At the Minneapolis Star Tribune, J. Patrick Coolican reports in With Republicans leading Legislature, allies ready to reap benefits: Sometimes it’s money straight from state coffers. Other times it’s a tweak to a narrowly focused regulation. With Republicans in charge of the Minnesota Legislature, their allies are seeing priorities elevated at the Capitol. Republicans are trying to use their state House and Senate majorities to re-engineer Minnesota government in a cheaper, leaner, more business-friendly direction. But they... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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In the online edition of the West Fargo News, Kim Hyatt reports in Local Minnesota legislators provide 'optimistic' update, field questions: In regards to one question on the state's new measures aimed at toughening laws against demonstrators — which was also introduced in North Dakota — [Paul] Marquart, [DFL-Dilworth] favored the law and said blocking busy airports and roadways was "not a peaceful demonstration." [Ben] Lien, DFL-Moorhead] however, said the measure is a "terrible idea." "People don't take to the streets when everything is fine and getting good wages. People take to the streets when there's unrest and dissatisfaction," Lien... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Our friend Patrick Moore at Pioneer Public Television sent a reminder today about U.S. Representative Collin Peterson's appearance today on Pioneer Public Television. The West Central Tribune's Anne Polta reports in Rep. Peterson to appear tonight on Pioneer Public TV live broadcast: Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson is scheduled to be the guest on the live broadcast "Your Legislators" at 8 p.m. today on Pioneer Public Television. The program also can be viewed via Facebook Live on the Pioneer Public TV Facebook page. Viewers will be able to call 1-800-726-3178, email questions to yourtv@pioneer.org or tweet @YourLegislators during the hour-long... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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An April 10 post on the Morris Invisible Facebook page about an upcoming April 22 public meeting in Willmar by a Democratic congressman and a Republican state representative sparked our interest. A call to Congressman Collin Peterson's office confirmed that the April 22 public meeting about the opioid crisis and healthcare is indeed in the works, though the time and place have yet to be announced. The staff person to whom we spoke noted that it's the office of state representative Dave Baker, R-Willmar (not Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley, as was first reported) that is working with Peterson to set... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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While congressional town hall meetings elsewhere in the country--even just across the Red River in South Fargo--have been rowdy, Collin Peterson's first town hall since 2009 was as mild as Norwegian-American chili, The Fargo Forum reports in Constituents talk Medicare for all at town hall with Congressman Peterson: A calm, collected line formed in the middle of the room as people waited to propose their solutions or express concerns, with many comments receiving applause. There was little to no negativity presented by Peterson or the crowd. About half of the room raised their hands when Peterson asked for a show... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Commenting on Friday's post, Now in Mankato, [Tony] Cornish never left Vernon Center family farm, also lived near Squaw Lake, hunter and head of Dog Lovers 4 Safe Trapping MN John Reynolds wrote: Cornish consistently votes against regulating lethal body grip traps that are killing our dogs. He paints it as poor trappers fighting for their heritage against antis who are trying to destroy their way of life. (Fact: our organization has never taken the position of banning trapping or even the traps that are killing dogs. Our goal is to regulate them so that dogs cannot reach them.) He... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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In a 2013 profile, State Rep. Cornish shoots straight from the hip, Dennis Anderson wrote that the Vernon Center-area Republican worked as a conservation officer in northern Minnesota for years and now "owns 70 acres of good wildlife habitat literally out his back door" in what's left of the Cornish family farm. That pretty much squares with the 70 acres of land Cornish reports in his Economic Interest Statement (EIS) that's online at the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, and Blue Earth County land records (enter Section 24/106/28), that indicate he retained about 70 acres of rural vacant,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Earlier in the Minnesota legislative session, Bluestem Prairie posted about the infamous "pick sicks" amendment to the state's health insurance premium relief bill offered by state representative Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, in Drazkowski "Pick Sicks" amendment stripped from MN health care insurance premium relief bill and Zombie health care plan returns: Drazkowski "Pick Sicks" amendment rises from its grave. Essentially, Draz's strategy would allow employers to offer health insurances that didn't cover cancer, mental health care, diabetes and the like. Get a disease your plan doesn't cover? Bankruptcy, illness and death, presumably. Yesterday, The Draz shared a similar Grim Reaper worldview... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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It is a melancholy object to those who drive on the Evil Metro's interstate system or travel on public transit, when they see the streets, the roads, and bus and light-rail doors, crowded with African-American protesters and their allies objecting to the deaths of their fellow citizens at the hands of law enforcement, followed by three, four, or six members of Unicorn Riot, all in video gear and importuning every passenger for an interview. These protesters, instead of being able to work and cut a check to the Citizens League & The Current for a Policy and Pints evening of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem isn't fond of headlines like Bald Eagles Keep Dying And No One's Talking About It, since we typically find the topic of such click bait actually is being discussed somewhere. Such a discussion took place last week on the floor of the Minnesota House over an amendment to HF888, the omnibus environment and natural resources budget bill. Spoiler alert: the above-referenced article from The Dodo is about bald eagles dying from poisoning after ingesting lead from spent bullets: . . . The lead gets into the bodies of bald eagles — as well as owls and other kinds of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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As any Walking Dead and Z Nation fan knows, the only way to give mercy to a zombie is a blow to the head. Thus we read this passage in Heather Carlson's All roads -- and modes -- lead to Rochester in the Post Bulletin with great interest: In recent years, there has been plenty of talk about a potential high-speed rail line from Rochester to the Twin Cities. But so far, those efforts have failed to advance. . . . Reiter said that when it comes to rail, there have been inaccurate statements made in the past about the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Guest post by Johanna Rupprecht Crossposted from Land Stewardship Project How citizens in one Minnesota county put values into action to attain a win for the land and their community. On November 22, 2016, history was made in southeastern Minnesota’s Winona County when the Board of Commissioners there passed a ban on any new frac sand operations. It is the first known countywide ban on the production of silica sand for the oil and gas industry’s use in hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking). As the Land Stewardship Project’s lead organizer on fighting frac sand development, I am privileged to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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UPDATE April 15: A Republican source tells Bluestem Prairie that Representative Mary Franson, R-Alexandria will not be at the event today. On the MinnSIR/Ruthie [Hendrycks] Report first aired on Thursday night, rally co-organizer Ron Branstner told the host that Jim Newberger, R-Becker would not able to attend the event, but Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, would attend, and Hendrycks herself was hoping to speak at the event. Our source tells us that Urdahl will not be at the rally in Willmar today. Hendrycks is famous for falling victim to the classic "Robert Erickson" punking of the Tea Party Against Amnesty rally... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Two bills making their way through the Minnesota House prompt Bluestem to worry whether a proposed law to impose up to a year in the hoosegow will create some empty seats on the conservative side of the aisle. At the Star Tribune on Tuesday, we read in Janet Moore's informative piece, Proposed House budget would deeply cut Metro Transit bus service: Local bus service provided by Metro Transit could be drastically cut back should a Republican transportation proposal move forward at the Legislature, the Metropolitan Council said Monday. The House transportation bill would result in a $122 million reduction in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Two weeks ago in Dayton to Republicans: Don't try across-the-board budget cuts, Erin Golden reported in the Star Tribune: The governor also told GOP leaders that he is "strongly" opposed to unrelated items tucked into budgets. A number of bills moving through the Legislature are likely to earn Dayton's veto if they reach his desk as standalone bills, including a "preemption" bill that would block cities from passing their own minimum wage or paid leave ordinances. "I am willing to debate policy proposals with you on their own merits, but I will not trade controversial policy items for spending necessary... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Guest post by Andy Birkey Originally published at The Column On Tuesday, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, a Republican from Glencoe, introduced a bill to ban transgender people from using the restroom at their place of employment as well in public places. HF2553 would also codify into law a male-female gender binary. The bill updates the legal definition of “sex” to be “A person’s sex is either male or female as biologically defined.” The bill does not say what “biologically defined” is comprised of. The bill also would impose a law on employers that would prohibit them from enacting gender inclusive workplaces... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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A friend's observation about farmers over-mowing conservation plantings along Highway 169 in Blue Earth County had us looking again at the issue of farmers' demands to grow state-owned right of ways on state highways. Are some landowners not only making hay off public land--but damaging plantings on state highways for which the public dime has paid? Our source noted that the forbs (flowering plants) and prairie grasses planted after some work on 169 had been mowed early and often until other grasses took over. We grew curious about the cost of such plantings. While not all of the landscape plantings... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie