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FARGO, N.D. - Authorities began planning the use of military aircraft technology to fight the flood two months before the waters even hit record level. North Dakota officials got word just last week that they would be allowed to use a Predator drone aircraft to fly over the area, providing real-time images of the rising Red River. "It's helped us an awful lot in monitoring ice jams, in detecting where there are breakouts," said Maj. Gen.
ST. PAUL - Survivors of severely injured veterans could receive home property tax breaks under a bill Minnesota legislators are examining. "Most of these are senior citizens," Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, said about people who would be eligible. Juhnke's bill would allow spouses of severely injured veterans to continue to receive tax breaks after the veterans die.
ST. PAUL -- A change in Minnesota's Constitution will soon mean up to $300 million in new money annually for conservation, water quality, parks and arts programs -- and that's on top of what those programs already receive. Or is it? With lawmakers trying to address a $4.8 billion budget deficit, the groups that fought for the amendment are reminding them of a provision in the law: The new money must not simply substitute traditional funding. But what that means depends on whom you ask. Conservation and arts groups say Gov.
Employees of yet another Iron Range mine learned of an impending shutdown Monday. For months, workers at the Minorca mine near Virginia have known that the taconite operation would cease production in mid-April to allow for scheduled maintenance work. But the mine's owner, Arcelor Mittal, recently revealed plans to extend that shutdown through July, according to Ray Pierce, president of United Steelworkers Local 6115. The union represents about 300 people working at the mine and processing plant. Minorca is just the latest mine to cut back production.
ST. PAUL - Now it is Al Franken's turn. Franken's campaign starts its case in Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate election lawsuit today. The Democrat hopes to build on his slim, 225-vote margin and become Minnesota's next senator. Coleman's attorneys wrapped up their case Monday after spending 26 days trying to show a three-judge panel that the election and that as many as 2,500 Minnesota voters did not have their valid votes counted in the Nov. 4 election. The Franken campaign's arguments are strikingly different than Coleman's.
ST. PAUL - The U.S. Senate election trial judges rejected a Duluth city official's request for more money in return for his trial testimony. The three-judge panel this afternoon ruled that Duluth Clerk Jeff Cox is not entitled to reimbursement beyond what traditionally is given witnesses. Al Franken's campaign last week sent Cox a subpoena to testify in the trial. With the help of the city attorney's office, Cox challenged that order, claiming that if he is going to testify, he must be paid much more than the campaign offered.
MAHNOMEN - Other than the presence of law enforcement officers processing the scene of Wednesday's eight-hour standoff and the yellow sheriff's tape cordoning off a section of a residential neighborhood here, today there was little visible evidence of the crisis that shook this north-central Minnesota town on Wednesday. Officers were working in the mobile home where Thomas Lee Fairbanks,32, and Daniel Kurt Vernier, 27, holed up Wednesday morning after the shooting of Mahnomen County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Dewey. The two are being held by authorities.
The Minnesota Senate will not hire new employees and on Thursday froze wages of existing workers. "These are common-sense measures to show the public that we are taking the budget deficit seriously and we will be sharing in the pain," said Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said after a committee approved the budget-saving action. "Our state is in the midst of a budget crisis and these actions are a continuation of the cutting we've been doing this year in the Senate.
ST. PAUL - A local election official blamed the U.S. Senate campaigns for trying to count favorable votes and block others that could help the opponent. "In general, I think they're trying to cherry-pick voters," said Sharon Anderson, Cass County's auditor and treasurer. Anderson criticized the Norm Coleman and Al Franken campaigns after testifying Thursday in the U.S. Senate election trial.
ST. PAUL - If the state required students to remain in school until they are 18 years old, they would earn more money and be more emotionally stable, some Minnesota lawmakers say. If a person drops out of high school, they are at financial and emotional risk, said Sen. Charles W. Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, author of the Senate bill to require students to remain in school until they are 18.