Minnesota legislators sound alarm about invasive Asian carp

Michigan’s attorney general announced a lawsuit Monday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to cut off a Chicago-area canal system that could allow invasive Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes.

Meanwhile, a group of Minnesota legislators says officials here must take “immediate action” to prevent the voracious invaders from devastating this state’s waterways and native fish populations.

“We’ve got to get moving on this,” said Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul. “We know that these fish are a problem, and we know that they’re moving here.” Continue reading “Minnesota legislators sound alarm about invasive Asian carp”

Vikings, NFL flagging more players for head injuries

A week ago, Minnesota Vikings safety Tyrell Johnson took a hit against the Arizona Cardinals so hard he said he couldn’t remember details of the injury.

On Sunday, Johnson was on the sidelines during the Viking’s play-off clinching win against the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson was one of about 20 players league-wide who missed playing or practice time last week due to head or concussion injuries.

The number of players showing up on weekly injury reports for head or concussion injuries has spiked in recent weeks, from four the week of Nov. 15 to 19 last week.

The increase follows a series of high-profile concussions, and on top of growing awareness of the long-term risks associated with head injuries. Is it just the usual late-season wear and tear, or are teams being more proactive about reporting concussions? Continue reading “Vikings, NFL flagging more players for head injuries”

“It’s a sad day for Minnesota”

The budget forecast delivered by state finance officials on Wednesday is perhaps the bleakest outlook in Minnesota’s history.

“This is the worst, without a question,” said Jay Kiedrowski, a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

As the state’s chief financial officer under Gov. Rudy Perpich in the 1980s, Kiedrowski dealt hands-on with the fallout from another major recession.

What’s compounding the current shortfall is that it comes on the heels of already deep budget cuts and under a governor who refuses to raise revenues, he said.

The trends, if left unchecked, will have widespread consequences, from larger K-12 class sizes and higher college tuition rates to bumpier roads and fewer police officers.

“It’s a sad day for Minnnesota,” said Kiedrowski. Continue reading ““It’s a sad day for Minnesota””

Gov. Pawlenty suggests he may use unallotment again

He did it before. Will he do it again?

A year ago this week, state finance officials broke the news to lawmakers about a projected $426 million budget deficit facing the state. The report set the table for a round of controversial budget cuts by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who used a once-obscure administrative power called unallotment to take back millions of dollars previously promised to state programs and local governments.

Today, the state’s budget office released this year’s edition of its fall budget forecast, and it showed another looming deficit, $1.2 billion for the current budget cycle. Early this afternoon, Pawlenty confirmed the worst fears of cities and counties, saying that he would prefer to work with the Legislature but that he may need to address the deficit problem this month by unalloting local government aid again.

“The worry is that it will be very large again,” said Steve Peterson, senior policy analyst for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Continue reading “Gov. Pawlenty suggests he may use unallotment again”