Weather Forecast


Friend who helped soldier survive is there for first bill

ST. PAUL -- Todd Everson was there on John Kriesel's worst day, so it was only appropriate that he sat behind the freshmen legislator on one of his best days.

On Dec. 2, 2006, Everson was in the lead vehicle of a military convoy near Fallujah, Iraq, when a roadside bomb blew up Kriesel's Humvee 200 feet behind him. Everson felt the shock and headed back to help the three injured soldiers; only Kriesel survived, but just barely.

"He was there when I basically was a goner," Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, said, crediting Everson for saving his life.

"I know if things were reversed, he would have done the same for me," Everson said about his buddy.

"Everything that he has done from that point on has exceeded any expectations," Everson said.

Everson, who grew up in Greenbush and now lives in Prior Lake, said he is impressed with Kriesel's recovery, which included a couple dozen surgeries and the need for two prosthetic legs.

Besides recovering from a bomb blast, Kriesel adds to his list of accomplishments election to the Minnesota House last November and getting his first bill passed on Thursday.

Kriesel said he wanted Everson there to share his victory. Everson did not have to think twice.

"I never thought I would see his name on the desk here," Everson said, pointing to the back-row spot Kriesel calls home during House sessions.

The two talk on the telephone regularly and Everson said that he cannot imagine the two not being close friends.

Kriesel said that getting his first bill passed, one that outlaws synthetic marijuana, was "like civics class on steroids." But having Everson there made it even better.

"It's surreal," Kriesel said. "He was always there for me."

Faster permits OK'd

A bill written to speed up the issuance of environmental permits speeded through the Minnesota Senate Thursday on a 49-16 vote.

Since it differs slightly from a similar bill the House already passed, it heads negotiators to work out differences.

Democrats complained about a provision in Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen's bill because it allows a company that requests a permit to hire a private firm to write an environmental impact statement.

"The fox in charge of the chicken coup" is how Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, described it.

However, Higgins and others failed to change the bill as Ingebrigtsen assured senators that environmental issues will be investigated by the state.

Higgins also did not like the fact that the bill would cost $1.8 million more in the next two-year budget, with state agencies hiring 18 people to speed the permitting process. Ingebrigtsen said cuts would be made in other places.

The bill is a prime Republican priority and one that Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton shares. Speeding the permitting process could allow companies to expand or open new operations and hire Minnesotans quicker.

"We need to be a little more tuned to business," Ingebrigtsen said.

The bill sets a 150-day goal for the Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency to issue permits businesses need before building or expanding.

GOP starts show

Republican senators launch a Friday radio show this week.

It will begin only on KOWZ in Owatonna, but Senate staff members hope to expand the show to other stations.

The program will be hosted by Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, and in the debut show his guests include Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, and Assistant Majority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie.

"Inside the Senate," which will run about 30 minutes, will be provided to any station that wants to air it. The GOP will not pay for it to be aired and the stations will not pay to obtain the show.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.