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Good news wasn't part of the message delivered by two state lawmakers to a group gathered at a church in Red Wing Thursday evening. Especially not for people counting on city or school district coffers. During a session update, Sen. Steve Murphy braced residents for possible consequences of a state deficit some estimate at $7 billion.
ST. PAUL - Elderly Minnesotans in counties outside the Twin Cities area have lower living costs, a new report shows, but even they struggle to afford to live alone. The report from the Elder Economic Security Initiative concludes that living independently is the most affordable option for seniors, but that may not be possible for elderly who rely only on Social Security benefits. A group of organizations that advocate for senior citizens Tuesday released the Minnesota "Elder Index," a county-by-county estimate of independent living costs for residents 65 or older.
ST. PAUL - Judges deciding Minnesota's U.S. Senate election trial said Tuesday they will count nearly two-dozen improperly rejected absentee ballots. The 23 ballot envelopes all are believed to contain votes for Democrat Al Franken, who ended the recount with a 225-vote lead over Norm Coleman. Coleman is challenging that result in the election trial. The 23 voters were among 61 who filed legal documents claiming their absentee ballots were wrongly rejected in the Nov. 4 election and the Senate recount.
Minnesota Finance Commissioner Tom Hanson is Gov. Tim Pawlenty's pick to coordinate federal stimulus funds. The Mahnomen native is a long-time Pawlenty advisor and runs the Minnesota Management and Budget Department. Democratic legislative leaders encouraged Pawlenty to name a point person to coordinate the billions of dollars Minnesota should receive beginning in late February, but they wanted someone from outside the administration.
Citing conflicts with the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency has suspended plans for a South Dakota coal plant that would provide power throughout Western Minnesota, including Alexandria. Known as Big Stone II, the proposed 500- to 580-megawatt plant would be an estimated $1.6 billion expansion of an existing facility located in Big Stone City, South Dakota, along the Minnesota-South Dakota border. If built, it would generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes in Minnesota, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota.
After being missing for over a month a North Branch, Minn., teenager is now back at home. According to Investigator Lisa Lovering of the Isanti County Sheriff's Department, Christin Swenson, 17, was returned to her parents Thursday and was in good condition. However, the whereabouts of her first cousin, Wade Swenson, 38, of Hager City, Wis., is still unknown. The pair had been traveling together. Wade Swenson is wanted in Pierce County (Wis.) on three outstanding warrants.
Katherine Hooey of Duluth lived a quiet, simple life. She wasn't a big spender. She had no interest in fashion and frills. And the last thing she wanted was attention. But her lifelong love of dogs -- and all animals -- is making a big impact two years after her death at age 62. Despite modest means, Hooey left an estate worth $335,000. She left it all to two local animal shelters and the Duluth zoo. Each recently got their one-third shares. "Anybody who knew Kathy, knew she was going to do this," said her sister, Sue Woods of Duluth. "It was just her lifestyle. It was her life.
ST. PAUL - Al Franken may be a U.S. senator before a Minnesota election lawsuit is resolved. "Al Franken will soon be the next senator from the great state of Minnesota," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday. "The bipartisan Minnesota state Canvassing Board has counted all votes and certified Al Franken the winner." Reid's statement came while Franken's attorneys were trying to convince judges to throw out Norm Coleman's election challenge. Coleman argues not all votes were counted.
Years ago, I saw a wonderful Twilight Zone episode in which a small time newspaper editor sold his soul to the devil in order to save his newspaper. The devil was played by Burgess Meredith, who arrives at the newspaper and tells the hero he is a linotype operator and would like to go to work. A deal is struck and the devil begins typing. He types of a fatal traffic accident on the edge of town, and other catastrophes unknown to the town as a whole and the hero's competition. The hero prints the devil's stories; they appear in his paper the next morning.
ST. PAUL - Norm Coleman went to the state's high court and Al Franken may do the same. Franken's campaign hinted Monday it could go to the Minnesota Supreme Court to obtain an election certificate after a bipartisan pair of state officials refused to issue a signed certificate. A signed election certificate could allow Franken to be seated in the Senate, even as a lawsuit over the election result is just getting started. The Franken campaign's election certificate request and the swift rejection by Gov.