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ST. PAUL - New test results show three out of four high school sophomores met reading requirements needed for graduation. The Minnesota Department of Education said that an average of 75 percent of 10th graders passed a reading test and that the tougher exam yielded improvements over last year. Results released Monday also show that while more students are passing the test, racial and economic achievement gaps remain. More than 65,000 students took the exam earlier this year.
Enbridge Energy has concluded its investigation into the Nov. 28, 2007, explosion that killed two Superior(Wis.)-based workers on one of its pipelines. Steve Arnovich, 35, and David Mussatti Jr., 27, both of Superior, Wis., were working at the site of the explosion near the northwestern Minnesota community of Clearbrook when they were killed. The federal office of pipeline safety, which is also investigating the explosion, has not released a final version of its own official report.
ST. PAUL - The 2008 Minnesota Legislature played out much like a hockey game. In the first period, Democrats who control the Legislature used a power play to smash through a $6.6 billion transportation funding bill, a construction projects funding measure and a proposed constitutional amendment to raise sales taxes to fund outdoors and arts projects. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty began the second period by sending some state construction projects to the penalty box, over Democrats' loud objections.
ST. PAUL - How some issues fared in the Minnesota Legislature this year: Animal chiropractors: New guidelines were established for chiropractors who practice on animals, including requiring a veterinarian's referral. Biofuels: Lawmakers approved increasing blends of biodiesel to 20 percent plant oil from the current 2 percent when mixed with diesel fuel. Bonding: Legislators passed a $924 million public works funding bill, but Gov. Tim Pawlenty pared that down to $717 million. Most college and university projects survived.
ST. PAUL - Most were known, some were expected and one came as a surprise. Those were lawmakers' reactions to colleagues' retirement announcements that came early Sunday, after the 2008 Legislature drew to a close. Twelve Minnesota House members formally announced they will not run for re-election this fall. Eight Republicans and four Democrats bid goodbye, and lawmakers expect more retirements yet this election year.
Construction crews reduced traffic on the Hastings bridge to one lane for most of the past two weeks as they worked to install a platform beneath the deck to support equipment and workers during the project. That work has been delayed by inclement weather and as a result, the bridge will be down to one lane for a little longer, through Friday, May 9. MnDOT is extending the hours of single-lane traffic across the bridge. It will now be down to a single lane from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, May 5 through Friday, May 9. On Saturday, May 3, the bridge will be down to a single lane from 7 a.m.
ST. PAUL - Rep. Bernie Lieder is a member of the "Greatest Generation," but he never would use such a term about himself. So it was with reluctance that he accepted recognition Thursday when the Minnesota House honored the Crookston Democrat and his fellow World War II veterans. "I'm only one of the whole group, and I hate to be singled out," said Lieder, who told fellow lawmakers he appreciated that the veterans were acknowledged. The House adopted a resolution commending veterans and other Minnesotans for their contributions during the war.
ST. PAUL - Rep. Tom Rukavina has introduced 66 bills during the current two-year legislative session, including at least one he knew would go nowhere. It's a common story in the Minnesota Legislature. Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, submitted a measure that would have reversed a St. Louis County ruling against a childhood friend. When he introduced it, Rukavina said he "wasn't serious" about the bill. In a recent interview, Rukavina said he introduced the bill solely because his friend "was getting screwed.
Minnesota schools should be allowed to shorten their school days, representatives decided Monday while debating an education policy bill. House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, wanted to prohibit schools from shortening their school days in future academic years. He said school days are getting shorter, but there is even more students must learn. "For goodness sakes," Seifert said during a floor debate, "could we at least agree that the school day shouldn't be any shorter?" Rep.
School districts would be required to offer a comprehensive sexual education program to students in grades 7 to 12 under a bill the Minnesota House passed after an hours-long debate stretched into late Monday. Representatives voted 79-53 to include the sex education provision in an education policy bill after a sometimes emotional debate. Supporters said schools should teach students about abstinence and provide information youth need to make responsible decisions about sexuality. Some opponents said a full-fledged sex education program does not belong in classrooms.