Minnesota's steps last spring to reduce mercury emissions from the state's largest coal-burning plants now shows the state on the leading edge of a movement among states to collectively say the Bush administration, on its own, isn't moving fast enough. Friday was the deadline for states to submit their plans for reducing toxic mercury emissions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with states' responses tallied by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.
The long sought-after push to expand Be-midji's medical services with a Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic finally came to fruition this week as the VA an-nounced a contract for facilities in Bemidji. The community-based outpatient clinic, expected to see 2,500 veterans a year, will be located at 705 Fifth St. N.W., a building which already houses the state Health De-partment's Northwestern District regional offices and just down the block from North-ern Medical Clinic, operated by North Coun-try Health Services.
No doubt parents were left scratching their heads on Wednesday, wondering what the new state test scores mean. At first glace they are disturbing: about one in four public schools in Minnesota missed student performance goals under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, leaving some open to sanctions. And we have state officials telling us to pay no never mind to the scores, because they are based on new tests and on new, tougher, curriculum standards. It'll take few years for the kinks to settle.
Perhaps in a real, positive example of finding common ground, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is reaching out to Democrats on one of their key campaign issues -- finding relief to soaring health care costs by making it accessible and affordable in Minnesota. While Pawlenty was more specific Tuesday in remarks to a health care conference in downtown Minneapolis, he hinted at possible common ground in health care in his first news conference after winning re-election last week.
Forward-looking Bemidji voters last week agreed that the concept of a regional events center in downtown Bemidji merits further study, and cast their ballots to take the next step. Nothing more, nothing less. A 45-vote margin, however, to OK the extension of the city's half-cent sales once it's fulfilled its obligation to raise $9.8 million for parks and trails improvements certainly is no mandate. But neither should it be cause for further dissension in the community.
There is no argument that Minnesota's transportation infrastructure needs a serious infusion -- we've gone too long without adequately funding our transportation systems, whether it be roads and bridges or in mass transit. Voters on Tuesday will be asked in a ballot question to constitutionally dedicate all of the state's sales tax on new and used vehicles -- the motor vehicle sales tax or MVST -- to transportation programs.
In his first two years, Rep. Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, has proven to be one of the brighter spots in the Minnesota House, able to work across party lines in a House not accustomed to doing so, and able to project a philosophy that is in tune with the majority of House 4A voters. We are excited what Rep. Moe will accomplish in his sophomore term, and urge House 4A voters to re-elect Moe to a second term in St.
Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, presents a unique case -- he's seeking a fifth term to a House 4B district that's nearly split between Republicans and Democrats. He also survived a GOP thrashing two years ago that saw Republicans in two neighboring districts ousted. That means Howes must be doing something right. Howes embraces constituent work and won't turn down the opportunity to put a bill in the hopper to see if support can be garnered.
City of Bemidji voters on Nov. 7 can make a decision that will determine the development direction of the region for generations to come. That may sound trite, but our little place in the woods is no longer a haven for cabin dwellers and weekend tourists -- it is a major regional center and lies at the cusp of deciding how that development will go or having it decide for us. In other words, we are in control of our own destiny today -- we may not be tomorrow. That's why we need a regional events center, and voters on Nov.
The voters in the 8th Congressional District are seeing the race of a lifetime -- as 32-year incumbent Democrat Rep. Jim Oberstar has nipping at his heels Republican Rod Grams, himself a former U.S. representative and U.S. senator. The two have clashed often, either in the three debates they've held, or in dueling press releases during the campaign that started last spring when Grams, who lives at the southernmost edge of the 8th in Isanti County, switched from seeking the GOP endorsement for U.S. Senate to the northeastern Minnesota U.S.