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(AP) Two Republican lawmakers want Minnesota's cigarette tax to more than double as a way to deter smoking and to repay Minnesota schools for aid delays during recent state budgets. Sen. Carla Nelson and Rep. Mike Benson, both of Rochester, outlined the bill Monday that they will formally introduce later in the week. Nelson acknowledged it cuts against Republican anti-tax orthodoxy but says she hopes her party and the public will embrace it because of the intended purpose. Minnesota's current $1.23 cent per-pack tax currently ranks among the middle of all states. The bill would boost that to $2.52. By supporters' estimates, a higher tax would generate $320 million in the next two years. Nelson says the bill would make it less likely that price-conscious young people would start smoking.
The City of Sparta says there are 3 reasons as to why they would like to build a new outdoor aquatic center where the aging pool currenty sits. First.......the pool was built in the late 40's and is in deteriorating condition. Second, to remain competitive with other communities that have constructed new aquatic facilities over the past few years. And finally....they can afford to build one at this point in time. City Administrator, Ken Witt, says this was not an over night idea brought to the table.
Debt service payments for the City are declining rapidly over the next couple of years. This allows for the construction of a pool facility without the necessity of increasing the tax levy. Old debts will be replaced with new debt for the pool at the same annual debt payment level. The issue is up for an advisory referendum on April 3rd.
The Wisconsin state Republican Party orchestrated the placement of fake Democrats ballots last summer, thereby delaying the general election for a month. That gave the Republican incumbents more time to campaign and distance themselves from the turmoil over the union law that they voted to support in March, spurring the recall efforts. La Crosse County GOP Vice Chair, Julian Bradley, says though it was not popular amongst voters........
So far with recall elections possible in 2012.......Bradley says he has not heard of either side planning to do this again this summer.
(AP) A Duluth native and drummer for Whitney Houston is remembering the singer as a sweet person who brought beauty to the world. Michael Baker tells the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/yArzS5 ) he learned of Houston's death from his mother. He says he hadn't seen Houston for about a year, after they finished the ``Nothing But Love'' world tour, but they had been in contact. Baker is a 1975 Duluth Central High School graduate. He became Houston's drummer in the early 1990s, and later became her musical director. Baker says he and Houston had a good working relationship and enjoyed each other. He says a lot of people got married and fell in love to her music, and that she should be remembered for the beauty she brought into the world.
(AP) The state Senate is expected to vote this week on a sweeping bill that would make it easier to build on wetlands. The GOP bill makes a host of changes to the Department of Natural Resources' wetland-filling permit process. One of the most contentious calls for developers to submit a mitigation plan with their applications. The plans could range from creating new wetlands to supporting the DNR's wetland restoration work. Right now the DNR places a heavy emphasis on whether applicants can avoid or minimize damage to wetlands. Conservationists fear that mitigation would become the favored approach rather than avoiding damage. The bill's author, Sen. Neal Kedzie, says including a mitigation plan with an application doesn't guarantee a permit. The Senate is poised to take up the bill Tuesday.