MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Legislative hearing held on state's wolf hunt
ST. PAUL -- There's a hearing in the Minnesota Senate Environment and Energy Committee today on the so-called wolf data bill.
The legislation would temporarily suspend the state's wolf hunt to implement the DNR's Wolf Management Plan and study the outcomes of the hunt on the wolf population. It also calls for annual counts to ensure the number of wolves in Minnesota doesn't drop below 1,600 and addresses tribal concerns.
Governor Dayton's bonding bill includes three-million dollars for early childhood education, but a Hibbing lawmaker doesn't believe that's enough. DFL Representative Carly Melin has introduced a bill that would up the amount to ten million. Gayle Kelley of the Minnesota Headstart Association says they are desperate for quality facilities to do early childhood services. Melin says the applications far exceed the money available and that's due in part to the expansion of all-day kindergarten. The money would be distributed in grants to qualified applicants, and would require that the community or organization provide a 50-percent local match.
A bill heard in a state Senate Committee would add cooperative services organized by local governments to those exempt from state sales taxes. South Lake Minnetonka Police Chief Brian Litsey says his department contracts out police service to surrounding communities, but they have to pay sales taxes that stand-alone departments do not. He says one of the core elements of entering into cooperative agreements is to reduce the cost to taxpayers while providing equal or greater service through the pooling of resources and avoiding costly duplication in equipment, personnel, and infrastructure. He says such agencies and their cost savings should be encouraged and rewarded by the state and not penalized by an unfair tax structure.
Charges have been filed against a Clay County Jail inmate accused of assaulting a corrections officer. Sheriff's Lieutenantt Steve Landsem says 24-year-old Damien Heninger was being prepared to be transported to another facility when he knocked the officer unconscious. The corrections officer was taken to the hospital and treated for substantial injuries and released that night. Landsem says two assault charges are being filed against Heninger, who was being held on a local domestic assault warrant and charges out of South Dakota.
Olmsted County Sheriff's deputies arriving at the scene of a burglary call in Oronoco, about 17 miles north of Rochester, pulled up to find the apparent intruder being held at gunpoint. Investigators say the owner of the home heard glass shatter and found Forrest Loucks trying to break in. The victim says Loucks demanded money, but Loucks told police he was looking for a warm place to sleep. Deputies found Loucks being held outside at gunpoin, by the homeowner's son. Loucks had a blood alcohol content of .21 at the scene and was taken to detox. He is facing multiple charges.