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Legislative Notebook: Legislators to stop work for Kubly funeral

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ST. PAUL -- Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem walked across the front of the Minnesota Senate chamber Monday, pausing at a desk decorated with flowers and a photo of Sen. Gary Kubly.

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"He was a great guy," Senjem said about the Granite Falls lawmaker who died Friday. "We will really miss him."

The desk is where Kubly sat this year, as Lou Gehrig's disease drained his energy.

Senjem, a Rochester Republican, said senators respected Democrat Kubly. "Gary Kubly never had a cross word about anybody."

Senjem canceled all Senate meetings for Wednesday and House Speaker Kurt Zellers called off all House proceedings until 4:30 p.m. so lawmakers may attend Kubly's funeral.

Senate and House members planned to take buses to the funeral. Gov, Mark Dayton also plans to attend.

The governor is expected to call a special election to fill Kubly's seat.

Kubly, 68, died in a St. Paul hospital Friday after suffering a medical problem Wednesday morning. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, also known as ALS, in 2010 and his health gradually failed since then.

Kubly, who was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, was a Lutheran pastor. He served in the Minnesota Legislature since 1997.

The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Granite Falls Lutheran Church. Visitation is to be 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the church and an hour prior to the service.

Senators and representatives paused for a moment of silence Monday in honor of Kubly.

"I think his pastoral approach to life is much needed in politics," said Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, whose father was a minister.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Kubly was a quiet man who helped a lot of people.

"Whether you are a farmer, a college student, a teacher or a nurse, in fact, if you are any Minnesotan who wants state government to make your life better, then I would say you, too, have lost a friend on Friday night," Bakk said.

Even as Kubly's health failed in recent months, Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, said, "he never focused on what he couldn't do; he focused on what he could do."

Business help sought

Members of both major political parties say legislators need to pass bills to help businesses, measures such as reducing taxes and providing a state employee to help businesses obtain permits.

"Every legislator has small businesses in their district, and we regularly hear about their challenges," Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina, said. "These bills are specific ways we can resolve state related issues and make a real difference."

Added Rep. Denise Dittrich, DFL-Champlin: "If we work together in a bipartisan fashion, we can get this work done for small business owners across our state."

Among the proposals Downey, Dittrich and others in a small business caucus support are ones that would:

-- Reduce property taxes on small businesses by exempting the first $150,000 of value from the state property tax.

-- Expand a business investment tax credit program.

-- Allow small businesses in some instances to request advisory inspections and make changes before penalties are imposed.

-- Require the Department of Employment and Economic Development to provide a permitting and regulatory ombudsman.

Carp found in state

Two Asian carp were caught in the Mississippi River near Winona last week.

The carp are invasive species that Minnesota natural resources officials fear will take over waters across the state. Gov. Mark Dayton and many legislators suggest immediate action to stop the carp's advance.

Silver and bighead carp like those caught are not native to the United States and eat food native species require.

The eight-pound silver carp caught near Winona is the farthest upstream any has been found.

"A silver carp discovery this far upstream is discouraging, but not surprising," said Tim Schlagenhaft of the Department of Natural Resources.

No significant Asian carp populations are known to be in Minnesota, although some individual fish have been caught.

Asian carp DNA has been found as far north as the northwestern Twin Cities.

State leaders are considering several measures to slow or prevent the carp's advance.

DON DAVIS reports for Forum Communications Co.

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