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Minnesota News Briefs: Farm Bill approved by U.S. Senate

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

WASHINGTON D.C. - After passage yesterday in the U.S. Senate, the Farm Bill is now in the U.S. House's court and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) says the hope is that the two chambers can work out their differences in conference committee.

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But Klobuchar adds that if the House doesn't allow a floor vote, "then we're in real trouble." Among significant differences: the House bill cuts funding for food stamps -- now called SNAP -- by $20 billion, while cuts are much smaller in the Senate's version.

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Proposed cuts to food stamps in the U.S. House version of the Farm Bill was the topic at a Monday afternoon hearing at the State Capitol, even as the U.S. Senate voted on its bill which does *not* include those cuts. Ramsey County Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire warns if funding for food stamps is cut as the House proposes, a family of three would lose 11 meals per month and a family of four would lose 14 meals a month. McGuire says that works out to one meal every other day -- which she calls unacceptable. Supporters of the cuts point out the SNAP program costs 80 billion dollars a year, more than the budgets for the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department and Interior Department combined.

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A Moorhead High School student will spend 105 days in juvenile detention after pleading guilty in a car rollover that killed his friend. Kullen Carney lost control on a gravel road last year and the crash killed Austin Wagar. Austin's father, Keith, says the loss of his son means no one is left to carry on the family name. Wagar said, "To say justice is served here today would be hard." Carney told the Wagar family words cannot explain how sorry he is and he never meant for any of this to happen.

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The latest Manpower employment outlook report finds 20 percent of Minnesota employers surveyed plan to increase staff levels in the third quarter, three percent plan to cut, and 75 percent say there will be no changes. Anne Edmunds with Manpower says those numbers are relatively unchanged and Minnesota is the middle of the pack compared to other states on new hiring. Manpower says for the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities, and wholesale and retail trade. Employers in education and health services plan to reduce staffing levels.

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The state Public Safety Department says 10,342 motorists were cited for not wearing seat belts during a statewide "Click It or Ticket" campaign May 20th through June 2nd. Included in those numbers are 256 child safety-seat and booster-seat violations. In a similar campaign in May of last year, over 12 thousand motorists were cited. Donna Berger with the state Traffic Safety Office says with drunk, distracted and aggressive drivers on the road, everyone needs to be buckled up.

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A coalition of prosectors, law enforcement, lawmakers and others is launching a statewide campaign today to fight elder abuse. The initiative is called Stop Abuse and Financial Exploitation of Elders in Minnesota or for short - MN S.A.F.E. Elders. Officials say elder abuse includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as financial exploitation and neglect. Authorities say in many cases elder abuse is under-reported, hard to spot and even harder to prosecute. A website will also be launched during today's campaign unveiling.

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It's not your average emergency landing. The Minnesota State Patrol says a hot air balloon landed on Highway 41 near Chaska last night. Lt. Eric Roeske says the balloon landed on the roadway between highways 196 and 212 at about 9:30 p.m. Nobody was hurt, and Roeske said he could not confirm the landing was made in an emergency. It's not the first time people in Chaska have encountered an unusual incident like this. Last July a hot air balloon landed alongside the Highway 41/212 on-ramp.

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