News Tribune Editorial Board
ST. PAUL — It's unprecedented, but look for the Minnesota Legislature to produce two bonding bills this year, one for all the shiny new buildings and projects that lawmakers can boast about at reelection time and another for what's really important: the routine maintenance no one finds exciting but has to be paid for, too, to responsibly care for our public amenities. "Let's fix the stuff we already have and don't make it compete with the new stuff," Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said in pitching double bonding at a legislative breakfast Wednesday.
ST. PAUL — So what was the No. 1 top priority at the 21st annual Duluth and St. Louis County at the Capitol citizen-lobbying event?
Here's one example: The state of Minnesota for decades required meetings of government bodies be held in public. Good, no governing in secret. But also bad, the Legislature exempted itself from the statute. So last legislative session, the News Tribune and others rallied behind a bill to subject the Legislature to the same Minnesota Data Practices Act requirements and open-meeting laws as all other elected officials in the state.
Despite its unknown costs, despite its likelihood of ending up in court, and despite how it sends, one more time, that awful message that Duluth is a tough place to do business, an earned sick-and-safe-time ordinance is being embraced and almost certainly will be approved soon by the Duluth City Council. The ordinance would give workers in Duluth, with the backing of city law, the ability to bank paid days off to take when they're ill, when a family member is ill, or when they have to deal with an emergency related to their safety or to the safety of a loved one.
In an era when shooting up schools actually happens, chatting flippantly about the possibility or joking, especially in front of unknown others, just can't happen. A growing number of students in the Duluth area are learning hard lessons on that after four scares and threats the past week and a half or so at North Star Academy, Lincoln Park Middle School, Denfeld High School, and Cloquet High School. All, fortunately, turned out OK.
Graduation rates in Duluth and across Minnesota that barely budged last year are reason for concern. They are another reminder, too: Our schools can be doing more and can be doing better. But so can we as communities when it comes to helping our kids. In particular, so can parents.
Yes, Minnesota's computer system for vehicle licensing and registrations has to work. And needs to be fixed. Inconvenienced-otherwise Minnesota motorists depend on its reliability.
With pretty much every one of us talking about gun violence and how to stop the bloodshed, Minnesotans can be encouraged that our state leaders are engaged in an ongoing and open dialogue, too. We can be especially optimistic after the comments of Gov. Mark Dayton last week that he'd be open to any proposal to protect Minnesota schoolchildren from becoming the victims of a mass shooting, the prospect, tragically and disturbingly, not so unheard of in America anymore.
So annoying. That guy crawling along at 40 mph on the freeway. In the left lane. Before lazily switching lanes. And then sitting like a speed bump at a stop sign on the exit as though waiting for the sign to change colors. You just know. On his cellphone. Has to be.
The debate over a natural gas plant proposed for construction in Superior dominated the Sunday Opinion page this weekend in the News Tribune. Proponents of the plant see it as a next and natural step for Minnesota Power's 5-year-old effort to reduce the use of coal, reduce carbon, diversify its energy mix, improve the resiliency of its electric grid, and encourage conservation. Minnesota Power is partnering with Wisconsin's Dairyland Power on the project.