Statewide: May 5, 2011 Archive
Posted at 8:13 AM on May 5, 2011
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Around MN
Republican lawmakers in St. Paul have released a proposed redistricting plan that is drawing criticism from Democrats. If adopted, the plan would force Democratic officials to have to run against each other in the newly redrawn districts. It is a divide and conquer strategy that is common with any redistricting process.
The Republican plan combines 20 current districts in the House and six in the Senate in ways that favor Republican areas. If the new maps survive a possible veto by the governor and an expected court challenge, some incumbents may have to run against each other, retire, or move.
If lawmakers and the governor can't agree by Feb. 21 of next year, the courts will redraw the state's political map.
The Republican majority gets the first pass, but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton holds the power of the pen.
Iron Range blogger Aaron Brown described the plan as a "Trojan Horse" that would let Iron Range DFL incumbents "a chance to keep their seats" while "greatly diminish[ing] the influence of the Iron Range in all but one House district and one Senate district."
Southwest Minneapolis Patch says the plan "squeezes Minneapolis districts." It quotes Scott Dribble (DFL-Minneapolis) as saying the plan appears to have been "hatched this in some deep dark basement somewhere."
The Winona Daily News says the Republican plan would maintain the current separation of Wnona and Goodview into different House districts, "but would create a big change in the Senate by lumping both cities in the same district."
Brown notes that DFL lawmakers likely won't agree to the plan, but that's to be expected.
"In this redistricting business it seems you have to choose between drawing lines dedicated to population balance and defending potential legal challenges or "perfect world" districts that might pit three incumbents against each other. Republicans chose the former but would be criticized either way. Is redistricting political? Yes, it is."
Also clicking on MN TodayWith roads in mind, Sen. Magnus authors bill for casino complex at Block E
In an attempt to raise much-needed money for the state's ailing infrastructure, District 22 Sen. Doug Magnus on Wednesday said he's authoring a bill in support of future redevelopment in a downtown area of Minneapolis known as Block E (Marshall Independent).
County budget questions looming
Mower County may not be slashing the budget, but the county board is getting creative with small steps (Austin Daily Herald).
Insight Now is in the final throes of the debate over Voter ID. Have your say.
Posted at 2:15 PM on May 5, 2011
by Mark Steil
Filed under: Farms
A farmer plants corn on his farm near Worthington, Minn. on Thursday, May 5, 2011. MPR Photo/Mark Steil
Finding the best field conditions of the spring this week, Minnesota farmers are stepping up their planting activity.
Fields are finally drying out thanks to more sunny days, brisk winds and less rainfall.
In the Worthington area of southwest Minnesota, farmers have been in their fields every day this week starting on Monday. Rainfall Wednesday night slowed things a little, but by Thursday afternoon the soil had dried enough for tractors to resume their work.
Spot checks with University of Minnesota crop specialists shows that all parts of the state are seeing planting activity.
That includes the Red River Valley, where spring flooding put farmers far behind schedule. But some field work is underway there, especially in the southern part of the valley.
In the west central part of the state, some spring wheat has already emerged in the Benson area.
Ryan Miller, an educator for U of M's Extension Service, said planting is also underway in southeast Minnesota, but farmers there are "just getting started" this week. Soil temperatures are a concern.
Farmers like to see the ground at 50 degrees or warmer when they plant. Near Rochester this week the soil temperature measured 46-degrees, Miler said.
It looks like farmers with dry fields will be able to plant at least until late Friday when the next chance of rain moves in.
Posted at 5:24 PM on May 5, 2011
by Julie Siple
Filed under: Hunger
The United States Department of Agriculture released numbers this week that show about one in seven Americans uses food stamps.
Altogether, about 44.2 million Americans receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The program is called Food Support in Minnesota.
According to the U.S.D.A., Minnesota had more than 500,000 people on the program in February, an all-time high. The state saw a 19 percent increase between February 2010 and February 2011, higher than the average national increase of 11.6 percent.
This map, however, that shows Minnesota still ranks below many other states in the percent of the population receiving the benefits.
Nationwide, the number of people who relied on the program in February wasn't significantly higher than January, prompting the Wall Street Journal's Sara Murray to explore whether a recent surge is ending:
The food stamp program ballooned during the recession as workers lost their jobs or saw their hours and income reduced. The rise in recipients has begun to flatten in recent months, which may mean that as the economy is improving fewer Americans are seeking to join the program. Enrollment in the program is still high though, with 11.6% more people tapping benefits in February than the same month a year earlier.
Much of the jump in Minnesota over the past year can be attributed to a rise in need. But advocates for the poor have also increased outreach to eligible Minnesotans, particularly seniors. What's more, changes in program rules in Minnesota have made more people eligible.