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Tuesday, May 05, 2015 9:37 AM

Monday morning as I was flying from Pittsburgh to Minnesota, I was writing this column, editing news stories, formatting photos and, if I had time, designing pages for this week’s edition. In other words, I was at my desk, which just happened to be a laptop more than 10,000 feet above earth.

  • Monday morning as I was flying from Pittsburgh to Minnesota, I was writing this column, editing news stories, formatting photos and, if I had time, designing pages for this week’s edition. In other words, I was at my desk, which just happened to be a laptop more than 10,000 feet above earth.

     
  • Greg Rendahl recently expressed his disappointment with my opposition to Gov. Dayton's idea requiring 50-foot buffer zones along rivers and streams (Bluff Country Reader letter April 20 edition). He thinks I'm catering to the interests of a few "greedy" farmers.

     
  • Minnesota State FFA Secretary Valerie Earley was the main speaker at the Spring Valley-Wykoff FFA banquet last week. She felt at home since it really has been home for the Wykoff resident, who noted she is a “proud” member of the chapter even though she graduated from Kingsland High School in 2014.

     
  • The United Nations — via the Refugee Resettlement Program — is behind our refugee situation. It’s time to bring this fact “out of the shadows.” Up to 95 percent of the refugees currently present in the U.S. — large numbers from terrorist-sponsoring countries — were ordered here by the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. Then they call for their family members, and on it goes.

     
  • A neighborhood brimming with gang violence, nudity, extremely coarse language, and drug and alcohol abuse isn’t a place for kids, particularly impressionable youth about to enter their teen years.

     
  • The controversy surrounding the “religious freedom” laws some states have tried to enact and the fatal incidents involving white police shooting black suspects have led to national dialogue on institutional discrimination or prejudice. Activists are inspecting laws and internal policies to make sure people are treated equally.

     
  • Indiana was in the national spotlight last week after the Legislature passed a “religious freedom” law that was signed by Gov. Mike Pence. Although the original intent may have held true to its name, many thought it was a smokescreen to allow businesses to discriminate against people by citing religious beliefs if they get sued.

     
  • With housing being considered a basic need, the state does a lot to help ensure Minnesotans of all ages and incomes are able to find an affordable place to rent or own. This was the focus of discussions I had recently with some Albert Lea constituents who work with Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.

     
  • Now that we’re about half way through the 2015 legislative session, you’ll start to hear much more discussion about budget targets. With the Legislature under full DFL control over the past two years, many pieces of legislation passed on strictly partisan votes. This year, we have a split Legislature and Republicans in the Senate have been busy bringing proposals to the table that will help Minnesotans. We’re seeing encouraging signs that some of these bills are gaining traction, so keep an eye out for them as committee deadlines approach.

     
  • A Republican proposal to give the nearly $1.9 billion state surplus back to residents — about $350 per person — appears to be dead as legislators, including many Republicans, have other ideas this session. They include investing some of the excess money in education, budget reserves to prevent some of the problems the state has experienced in recent years, and public infrastructure, which has been neglected in recent years.

     
  • I often pick on the meteorologists for their inaccurate weather forecasts. For example, Sunday’s original forecast for light snow was recalculated to a prediction of up to three to five inches Saturday and then recalculated yet again early Sunday afternoon to a winter storm warning after it was evident this was not a minor event.

     
  • This week is Sunshine Week. The name has nothing to do with the actual sun, which has been warming our area well above normal this past week. The week is a national initiative to promote dialogue about open government that should operate in the light of day, rather than secretly in the dark.

     
  • In the Bluff Country Reader of March 2, Lisa Brainard had a good front-page story about ecotourism. I think it gave us much to think about in that area of tourism, which I would call “gentle” tourism. I believe much more can be done in Fillmore County and the surrounding area to show people that we have a beauty here which is different from other beautiful areas.

     
  • With a sparse crowd attending the meet-the-candidates sessions for District 1 Fillmore County commissioner, the question came up last Thursday if candidates are responsible for engaging constituents in the process and, if so, how would that be done. The sessions were set up for three weeks — one night for each candidate — in Spring Valley for people voting in the special election on March 31.

     
  • When Kevin Slimp stepped outside the door of the community room at F & M Community Bank in Preston Friday after a seven-hour session with staff members of Bluff Country Newspaper Group, he said, “It really doesn’t feel that cold here.” This statement is from a resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, who first ventured out that morning in a temperature of 16 below zero.

     
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