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With the price of gasoline hovering ever nearer to $3 a gallon, fueling fears that it might translate to sky-high energy costs come winter, we need to redouble efforts to seek alternative forms of renewable energy. And, hopefully, they can be developed with encouragement, without being fettered with unnecessary bureaucracy. Especially the bureaucracy that comes with the military. An effort to develop wind energy, including in Minnesota, has been stymied by the Pentagon as it studies whether the large wind turbines may disrupt its radar operations.
The idea of offering Minnesotans two years free tuition at a public university sounds intriguing. Minnesota needs to prepare a 21st century workforce, and providing greater access to higher education can be an important part of that process. Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday made such an offer, in which the state would pay for the first two years of college tuition -- after state and federal grants are applied -- for students who are in the top 25 percent of their graduating class or score about a certain level on a college entrance exam. But the proposal also raises a lot of questions.
Bemidji's emergence as a major regional medical center got an additional boost on Friday with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' announcement that it would open a community-based outpatient clinic in Bemidji by the end of the year. Northwest Minnesota has demonstrated the need for such facility for a decade, and the VA has agreed. But the lack of congressional funding pushed that need off.
The U.S. House moved in the right direction on Thursday when it approved in a 247-172 vote an important budget tool for President Bush and future presidents -- the line-item veto. The new version is weaker than the original line-item veto authority approved by Congress but stricken down in 1998 by the U.S. Supreme Court. The new version would allow the president to single out items contained in appropriations bills that reach his desk for signature, and would require Congress to vote within 14 days on those items again.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday failed -- for the ninth time since 1997 -- to raise the minimum wage, which has remained unchanged during that time at $5.15 an hour. The 52-46 vote was eight short of the 60 needed for approval under budget rules in the Senate, and the House has sworn off any attempt to vote on a minimum wage bill at any time this year. Both chambers are controlled by the Republicans; the minimum wage effort is being pushed by Democrats.
At first blush, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Monday on how the federal government regulates wetlands may be confusing and even further cloud that role. But after some study, maybe it is the proper decision as America's wetlands are complex and deserve careful consideration, on a case-by-case basis, if necessary. The court itself couldn't find solid consensus, as it voted 5-4 to essentially uphold provisions of the 1972 Clean Water Act which regulates development activity on wetlands.
Many will say that Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that will allow police to enter homes without knocking as a sign of the new conservatism on the court. But the ruling actually sends mixed signals, as it violates a centuries-old, common-law rule which conservatives have embraced for eons -- protecting the sanctity of one's home. The 5-4 ruling, in Hudson vs. Michigan, said judges cannot throw out evidence collected by police who have search warrants but do not properly announce their arrival.
Minnesota's pristine lakes and woods are seeing more and more development pressure, as quality of place becomes the top priority for people wishing to locate. The only problem is northern Minnesota could run out of such areas if efforts aren't made now to save some of those pristine areas for future generations of Minnesotans to enjoy. Minnesota took a huge step forward as Gov.
The rumor mill surrounding the suspension/firing of Bemidji Public Safety Director Bruce Preece remains in full force. But, unfortunately, the facts may never be told. Preece, whose position puts him in charge of both the police and fire departments, was put on paid administrative leave April 25 by then-City Manager David Minke, who was only days away from leaving his post for another job. Through most of the process, Preece has maintained he doesn't know the reason for the action. Minke is gone, and those in in-terim charge aren't saying anything.
It took Attorney General Mike Hatch seven ballots over more than six hours on Saturday to win the endorsement of Min-nesota DFLers to face Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty this fall. But Hatch isn't done. He must first hurdle past Sen. Becky Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, who also sought the DFL endorsement on Saturday but drop-ped out, saying she would challenge the eventual endorsee -- Hatch or Sen. Steve Kelley of Hopkins -- in the party's Sept.