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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
Recent Activity
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Ever since Dave Orrick reported Gov.-elect declines Donald Trump invitation to White House. Walz says he’s too busy in the Pioneer Press and The Hill's Aris Folley wrote Incoming Minnesota governor says he's too busy to meet with Trump, Minnesota Republicans have had the fantods about Tim Walz's absence at the White House on Thursday. The Oakland Press of Troy, Michigan, is one of many papers nationwide posting the Associated Press article, Walz draws GOP criticism for skipping Trump meeting, while closer to home, CBS Minnesota (aka WCCO) ran the same piece under the headline, Gov.-Elect Walz Skips Meeting With... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Bluestem Prairie
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At the West Central Tribune, Tom Cherveny continues the Willmar area newpaper's coverage of the new mini-minority Republican caucus in the Minnesota House. On Friday, Chervent reported in District 16 legislators back leadership, question Miller group's mini-caucus move: Two Republican state legislators from District 16 will continue to support their party's leadership, despite a move by four members of the party to create a separate caucus in the House. Representative Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, and State Senator Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said they continue to support the current leadership when asked their thoughts on the New Republican mini-caucus created by Representatives... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Bluestem Prairie
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It's been over a year since we posted ND senators introduce two bills to address epidemic of missing & murdered Native women. On December 7, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved Savanna's Act, but now faces unanticipated opposition from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia. Goodlatte is retiring from the U.S. House of Representatives, while Heitkamp was defeated in November's election. Forum Communications' Barry Amundson reports in Heitkamp: House member playing 'petty' politics blocks Savanna's Act: U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is fuming over a U.S. House member's efforts to block Savanna's Act, legislation aimed at addressing the epidemic of... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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The reviews are coming in on Prinsburg Republican state representative Tim Miller's performance in the drama that's the New House Republican Caucus. The editors of two area papers--the Swift County Monitor and the West Central Tribune (though not in Miller's district, it is the regional paper for the area)--have weighed in on the move. And at the Mankato Free Press, the regional paper serving Jeremy Munson's district? Not encouraging. Their editorials are not especially encouraging for the caucus or Miller. In Splitting From Republicans A Risk For Miller, Swift County Monitor editor Reed Anfinson writes: . . . But we... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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One issue unsuccessful Republican Secretary of State candidate John Howe campaigned on was making voters' choices of party confidential in Minnesota's switch to a presidential primary, although he sometimes stretched the truth about what they had to share with election officials under the new law: Howe said participants in the presidential primary must give an oath to the election judge that they will support the party’s nominee, MPR's Brian Bakst reported in early September in Party preference public in 2020 presidential primary: Want to vote in Minnesota’s 2020 presidential primary? Be prepared to take an oath professing agreement with a... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
Since Brian Bakst first tweeted the letter above, Tim Miller is seeking to rebrand the formation of the New House Republican Caucus as not really leaving the House Republican Caucus. Miller tells West Central Tribune reporter Tom Cherveny in Republican House members, including Miller, form new caucus: Miller said he wants his constituents to know first of all that he remains a Republican. "I will still be working alongside my fellow Republicans,'' said the local legislator. He added that he expects to continue working together with State Representative Dave Baker, R-Willmar, on matters important to the district. He likened the... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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A farmer called us earlier today to share an anecdote that possibly illuminates why state representative Tim Miller, NP-Prinsburg, felt less than appreciated by Republican House leadership. As Brian Bakst reported in Renegade House members split from GOP caucus, In a message to his Republican colleagues Miller wrote, “I have come to the conclusion that the attitudes and actions by the HRC (House Republican Caucus) leader and some of his supporters have become too hostile toward me and has made it impossible to properly serve my District first and the State of Minnesota second. Those are my priorities.” “As we... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem's been boning up on the child care issue in Minnesota, which was summed up fairly well last spring by Nora Hertal in the St. Cloud Times' article Minnesota's 'quiet crisis' in child care: 'There's not a silver bullet'. There's no one solution for the quiet crisis, but one west central community does seem to have developed a solution that has turned availability of child care into a community strength. The article is a couple of weeks old, but the news in Swift County Monitor editor Reed Anfinson's article, Daycare could be key to Benson area’s growth, is still promising:... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Following Brian Bakst's lead on Saturday, we posted Not so gracious now: Tim Miller, 3 running buddies expel selves from MNHouse GOP caucus. Reading more about the development in Mark Fischenich's article at the Mankato Free Press, Munson, 3 others split from GOP caucus, we learned that anti-omnibus-prime reforms are part of the New Republican Caucus agenda. Fischenich reports: Working together, with like-minded lawmakers and possibly with some in the Democratic majority, Munson said the group would like to institute legislative reforms to bring more transparency and order to the lawmaking process. "How can we do things better and have... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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On November 12, Bluestem reported Tim Miller gracious in minority leader bid defeat; vows to work toward reopening private prison. A series of tweets Saturday by Minnesota Public Radio political reporter Brian Bakst shows Miller's sentiment didn't age well. In message to others in @mnhousegop, @kdaudt says he learned of decision by the four (Bahr, Drazkowski, Miller and Munson) yesterday. pic.twitter.com/cT6CT5D24e — Brian Bakst (@Stowydad) December 8, 2018 The letter notifying @mnhousegop of the departure. #mnleg pic.twitter.com/6PxX9KS5C9 — Brian Bakst (@Stowydad) December 8, 2018 In the MPR Capitol View story that followed, Bakst reported in Renegade House members split from... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Since Bluestem remembered that Guy who ruled Daudt's mute button was in order now opposes restrictions on who can talk, the Minnesota House's mute button has been put on the endangered tech list, with Speaker-elect Melissa Hortman promising to eliminate the button. That decision is earning praise in Minnesota's media, including Listening vs. muting, an editorial in southwest Minnesota's Marshall Independent, a Gatehouse Media paper. The editors write: Mute buttons are handy when watching TV and another annoying commercial comes on, usually at twice the volume of the regular programming. They proved invaluable during the past political campaign season to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Wild deer identified as presumptive positive for CWD outside of disease management zone; first in Houston County: A wild deer harvested in Houston County on Nov. 17 has been identified as presumptive positive for chronic wasting disease, the Department of Natural Resources said. Official confirmation will come later this week. The hunter has been notified and the DNR is making arrangements to pick up the meat and carcass. It is the first detection of the neurological disease in Houston County since testing began in 2002. If confirmed positive, the DNR will offer landowner... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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In Chronic wasting disease is both a state, national issue, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reprinted an editorial about CWD from the Rochester Post Bulletin. It's praising the request "for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior to expand federal tracking and mapping of CWD and to establish universal standards for transporting deer across state lines." We're still curious whether Senators Klobuchar and Wicker are simply asking for resources to be shifted within the agencies, rather than seeking increasing funding, as is the case in Senator Tester's bill (there's a bipartisan companion bill in the House introduced by Ron... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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There's no final draft of the Farm Bill yet, but incoming House Ag Committee chair, Minnesota Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson shared the potential demise pollinator habitat programs with Minnesota Public Radio's Dan Gunderson and Elizabeth Dunbar in Peterson: New farm bill preserves status quo, but will it help farmers enough?: The Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to set aside land for conservation, will grow by 3 million acres, he said. But Peterson added that payments will be capped and landowners won't be able to get extra money to pay for things like planting pollinator habitat. "We're trying to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
Bluestem has been covering rural citizen organizing against a large factory farm in Fillmore County's karst country in posts like Fillmore County citizens have their fill of proposed hog farm, demand EIS statement and All citizens are equal, but one thinks he's more equal: massive hog farm shareholder seeks to prevent August 2 Newburg Township meeting. There's yet another public meeting about the project on Tuesday evening. Our friends at Land Stewardship Project have issued the following press release asking attendees to demand an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed Fillmore County Factory Hog Farm: On Tuesday, Dec. 4,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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If Matt Lohr, the new director of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, were a Democrat, we might see some Minnesota Republican lawmakers whine about how his family's 250-acre spread in the Shenandoah valley isn't "real ag." But since the former Virginia state lawmaker is a Republican, we suspect we'll hear few objections from that sector, although it's possible one state senator who objects to industrial hemp production as "bunch of backdoor bs" for legalization of recreational cannabis might be less than enthusiastic about the appointment. Lohr--who raises poultry, beef, row crops, and sweet corn--also grew six acres of hemp... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Minnesota Departtment of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold a public meeting in Preston to provide information about Chronic Wasting Disease in Southeastern Minnesota and the DNR’s management response to its discovery. The meeting will be 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, in the Fillmore Central School Auditorium at 702 Chatfield St. News of the meeting is drawn from a DNR press release issued Friday: DNR intensifies CWD response efforts in southeastern Minnesota Late-season hunts, landowner shooting permits and post-season deer culling planned; public meeting scheduled The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is taking additional steps to help limit the spread... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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At Minnesota Public Radio's Capitol View blog, Tim Pugmire reports in Mute button’ days are numbered in MN House: Let the shouting resume. A controversial mute button that Republicans had installed in the Minnesota House chamber will disappear when the new DFL majority takes charge in January. “I will be asking for the mute button to be disconnected,” said speaker-designate Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park. . . . Hortman said her request for the button’s removal will have to wait until she is officially elected as speaker. “I don’t have the power to ask for that to be done right now,”... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Over the past week, Bluestem's been posting about the Minnesota House legislative process reform initiated by Democrats. Now we learn of Republican dissent in the shape of House Republican, Greg Davids of Preston, who will start his fifteenth (non-consecutive) term in January. In 'Nothing good happens after midnight:' House DFLers consider debate limits, Fox 9's Theo Keith reports: Rep. Greg Davids, R-Winona, said lawmakers are elected and paid to approve the best legislation, regardless of the hour. "The House has been very open. It’s the people’s House. I don’t think we should have restrictions on who can talk and when,"... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Conservative state representative Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, defended her Minnesota House colleague Ilhan Omar on Facebook days before an absurd meme was debunked by Snopes, Politfact, Factcheck.org, Roll Call and the conservative Weekly Standard. Why didn't other conservative Minnesota activists pay attention? The answer seems rooted in how social media consumers trust the sources for news and images. The meme--in this case a screengrab of an Instagram image shared on November 9 from the trumps_the_man account-(view here) was posted on Facebook by MNGOP consultant and activist Jonathan Aanestad on November 10, receiving 123 Comments and 268 Shares. Aanestad told one commenter... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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On Sunday, state representative Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, tweeted a link to a preview/review of tonight's information meeting about legislative reform: For a full review/preview of the House Reform Hearings this week go to Rep Pelowski’s Presentation on Reforming Minnesota’s Legislative Process. Title/Bill Intro pages attached. The link to full presentation below.https://t.co/a2sMRyjKqI#mnleg pic.twitter.com/akkBxKOCnw — Gene Pelowski (@GenePelowski) November 25, 2018 Earlier, the Winona lawmaker had tweeted the agenda for the Tuesday evening meeting and that on Wednesday during the day: Rep. Pelowski to Chair Two Informational Committee Meetings on Legislative Reform #mnleg pic.twitter.com/aUxNzAM5Gv — Gene Pelowski (@GenePelowski) November 20, 2018 That... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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A Monday Legislative Update from CWD action champion state representative Rick Hansen, DFL-S. St. Paul--who will chair the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resource Finance beginning in January--illustrates why simply shifting resources and staff to deal with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) costs hunters in other ways: Below you'll find information sent to me from the DNR on the financial impacts of Chronic Wasting Disease. Date: November 21, 2018 Question: What is not being accomplished due to CWD surveillance? Answer: Since expenditures for the majority of the 2018-2019 response are incomplete, data were used from 2017 efforts for staff time calculations.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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One of the voices crying out in the wilderness of the Minnesota House for reform and transparent process has been South St. Paul DFLer Rick Hansen, especially when important and hefty bills show up late for members to read and debate before a post-midnight vote. With the creation of the Subcommittee on Legislative Process Reform, chaired by Winona Democrat Gene Pelowski, it's possible that Hansen lamentations might be softened should one reform--proposed in a 2008 report--be adopted. On page 15 of the Committee Report on Legislative Process Reform we find this nugget: #16 It should not be possible to waive... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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A reader objected to our last post, What's coming, what's passing away, and what's enduring in Minnesota House committees, writing in an email, "What is discouraging is the absence of any reference to the minimization of omnibus bills! " Our post focused on committee structure and leadership, but we reassured him that Speaker Hortman had discussed the issue since the election flipped the Minnesota House. We'd included a bit about the issue. In House Democrats signal priorities in new committee structure, Minnesota Public Radio's Briana Bierschbach reports (and we quoted it in the post): One new subcommittee will focus on... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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In House Democrats signal priorities in new committee structure, Minnesota Public Radio's Briana Bierschbach reports: The incoming DFL majority in the Minnesota House released its new committee structure and named committee chairs on Wednesday, signaling a renewed focus on issues such as criminal justice, the environment, affordable housing — as well as the legislative process itself. Democrats reclaimed the majority on Nov. 6, picking up 18 seats from Republicans for a 75-59 hold on the chamber beginning in January. The new committees include ones focusing on climate change, clean water, early childhood education, labor and corrections. “We’ve streamlined the committee... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie