With diesel fuel prices climbing to $4 per gallon, there's now a loan program that can help Minnesota long-haul truckers save money, stay cool this summer, and reduce pollution on overnight rest stops.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency offers low, 4 percent loans to owner-operated long-haul truckers and small trucking companies to purchase idle-reduction devices. These auxiliary power units, or APUs, are either small, 15-horsepower diesel engines or battery pack systems that can run air conditioning, heaters and electricity to power laptops while the truck’s main engine is shut off.
As both an intern at the Office of the Governor and a student at the University of Minnesota, I have the unique opportunity to participate in conversations about legislative efforts to support the U. Today my two worlds collide as students of UMN campuses across the state meet at the Capitol to rally around the University. The annual Support the U Day brings together students, faculty members, and state legislators for one discussion regarding the future of the University and of the state.
I support the U because it allows me to explore any and every interest I have. It helped me to develop my passion for public policy and international studies, and it continues to guide me on a path I never imagined I’d travel. I support the U because the opportunities it provides its students are limitless. I can work directly with my professor on a research project, I can study abroad, I can study in the community, and I can learn just about any language I want to learn. More, I can find community in the over 800 student groups on the Twin Cities campus.
Support the U Day gives students a voice in the political process. It provides them the stage on which to share their stories. There are no paid corporate lobbyists here; there are students and community members advocating together for the state’s only public research university. Support the U Day is an event where we can leave our partisan identities at the door, and come together to support the future of Minnesota.
A new study by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety shows 68 lives and over 300 injuries have been avoided in Minnesota thanks to the state’s 2009 Primary Seat Belt Law. Under the primary seat belt law, officers can ticket drivers for not wearing a seat belt without any other law being broken. Since the law went into effect, observed seatbelt use in the state has risen from 87 percent in 2008 to 93 percent in 2011.
“The findings of this study remind us again how vital it is for Minnesotans to buckle up — every seat, every ride,” said Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman. Seatbelt use reduces the risk of fatal injury in a passenger automobile by 45 percent. Unbuckled motorists are six times more likely to be injured in an accident than motorists wearing seat belts. Minnesotans that are least likely to buckle up and more likely to die in crashes are young drivers. This group represents only 24 percent of licensed drivers in Minnesota, yet they account for half of serious unbelted injuries.
The study by the Department of Public Safety showed 70 percent of Minnesota motorists are in favor of the Primary Seatbelt Law, up from 62 percent just before the law was passed. As more motorists use seatbelts, the drop in injuries is also saving the state money. $45 million in hospital bills have been avoided thanks to motorists using their seatbelts.
“As Minnesota continues its efforts to move roadway deaths towards zero, this research shows that seat belts are a critical tool in that effort,” said MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel. It’s important that every Minnesota motorist remembers to use a seatbelt. Buckling is the easiest, least expensive way to help lower traffic deaths in Minnesota.
This week Lt. Governor Prettner Solon traveled to Washington DC to take part in the National Lt. Governors Association spring meetings. The Lt. Governor currently serves as Midwest At-Large representative to the NLGA Executive Committee.
At the meetings Lt. Governors from around the country talked about energy issues, health care policy, national debt, state-federal legal issues, and veteran services. Lt. Governor Prettner Solon attended and participated in several meetings and panel discussions throughout the week. The Lt. Governor was also on hand to present the GE Public Leadership in Energy and Environmental Stewardship award. Last year, Lt. Governor Prettner Solon won the inaugural award, for her work on energy and environmental issues.
A new report issued by the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) showed that Minnesota employers added 6,200 jobs to the state economy in February, marking three consecutive months of job growth in Minnesota. This is an important milestone in Minnesota’s economic recovery. The state has already regained half the jobs it lost during the recession.
Education and Health Services was the leading sector in job creation, adding 5,100 jobs last month. Other areas posting strong job growth include the Government and Leisure and Hospitality sectors. "The labor market recovery appears to be gaining steam, with three consecutive months of strong job growth," said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips. "The state has now recovered 81,400 jobs since the recession."
As part of Governor Mark Dayton’s Better Government for a Better Minnesota reform effort, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry unveiled their new online license registration capability. The online program, called the ReNew system, will make the process of new license registrations and license renewals, faster, simpler, and more streamlined. This system will allow individuals to apply for or renew a license, certificate, or registration online.
“By using the ReNew licensing system, both renewals and initial applications submitted online can be processed a week faster than those submitted by mail,” said Labor and Industry Commissioner Ken Peterson. “Instead of mailing paper forms and checks for processing, online users can enter the necessary information, upload the required documents and pay their fee in a matter of minutes.”
Online users will benefit tremendously from this agency reform. They will be able to pay online, eliminating the hassle of possible payment complications like accidental overpayment or underpayment. Also, incomplete applications will be reviewed and processed more quickly, ensuring that applicants will not have the process hindered by a minor mistake. It will also eliminate wasted time and resources caused by delays in delivery and processing.
Every spring, sixth graders from Mankato board busses for an exciting field trip to St. Paul. There, they visit the Capitol and meet with their legislators to learn about civics first hand. Hearing the trip may have to be canceled this year because a thief stole $2,300 raised to support the visit, Governor Dayton decided to bring government to Mankato. He visited the students at Franklin and Garfield Elementary Schools, speaking about his role in government before taking questions from the students.
When they visit St. Paul, the students usually tour the Capitol Rotunda, the Governor’s Office, and the Supreme Court before meeting with their legislators. Afterwards, they also visit the Science Museum and Omnitheater, and finally end their day at historic Fort Snelling. For 34 years, the Mankato Sertoma Club has helped make this trip possible by raising funds to support the students. They’re still working hard to make sure the trip happens, but Governor Dayton wanted to be certain these students wouldn’t miss an opportunity to learn about their state government.
In 2010, Minnesotans lost almost 8,400 cars to auto theft, totaling more than $21.3 million in stolen assets. This week Commissioner Mike Rothman and the Department of Commerce unveiled Minnesota’s plan to combat this problem by granting metro area law enforcement with $3.8 million towards new theft-prevention technology.
This extension of the Minnesota's Auto Theft Prevention Grant Program will provide metro police departments with new “bait cars” equipped with hidden cameras and audio recording to help police officers catch criminals in the act. "There are audio recordings of them in the act of doing it, along with a video recording," Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren said. "Then you can actually shut the vehicle down and apprehend them while they're still in the vehicle, and provide all of that information to our jurors and to our prosecution to hold people accountable.”
Part of the new funding will also go towards purchasing new high-tech cameras, designed to photograph license plate numbers each time a car passes and run the number through several databases. This system will help law enforcement officials recognize not only stolen vehicles but also those operated by drivers with outstanding warrants and suspended licenses.
For 2011 Milken Award winner Seth Brown, his sudden national recognition would not be possible without the support and mentorship of countless other teachers. During a meeting with Governor Dayton last week, Brown described his teaching method as a collection of ideas he has taken from fellow educators and modified to fit his classroom.
Wherever he gets his ideas, Brown’s methods have gotten results, and gotten noticed.
The Milken Award coined as the “Oscars of Teaching” recognizes and celebrates educators for their achievements in the classroom. Selected through an entirely word-of-mouth process, Milken awardees are picked for what they have achieved and what they are poised to accomplish in the future. As a recipient, Brown received $25,000 and access to many professional development opportunities.