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On Independence Day this summer, the Clelia II will slip into Duluth's harbor and tie up near the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Then 100 passengers will be shuttled to the Great Lakes Aquarium, where they'll go through a U.S. Customs check. It might not seem significant, but that customs check could usher in a new era in cruise boat tourism for Duluth. It will mark the first time a cruise is starting or ending in Duluth. Cruise ships have made stops in Duluth before, but they haven't started or concluded journeys here. "This is pretty big to have the exchange of passengers.
ST. PAUL - Al Franken's campaign wants to remove a pile of northwestern Minnesota ballots from the U.S. Senate election tally as Norm Coleman's team nears the end of its court case. The Democrat's campaign said 61 Becker County ballots should be removed from the election tally because local officials did not follow state law about ballot documentation and storage. New evidence was found in recent weeks indicating the votes, which favored Coleman, should not have been counted, Franken's campaign said Monday.
ST. PAUL - Lawmakers rejected a plan requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, but expect to see the legislation again. A Minnesota House committee on Thursday rejected the bill by Rep. Tom Emmer that would have required voters to show photo identification, such as a driver's license, when they vote. "Without a photo ID requirement as part of our election process ... it calls into question the integrity of the process," said Emmer, R-Delano. The photo identification proposal is not new at the Capitol and traditionally falls along partisan lines.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's ailing state coffers could get a $2 billion jolt from the federal economic stimulus package, but the funding comes with conditions and will complicate Capitol budget talks. State finance officials said Thursday that early number-crunching shows Minnesota could get more than $3 billion from the $790 billion economic recovery plan nearing completion in Congress.
Some senators were not happy Tuesday when they learned the state Education Department paid $181,000 for a report on Q Comp that was released the night before the legislative auditor released what they considered a similar report. "It does feel duplicative," Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, told Education Commissioner Alice Seagren. "I'm just concerned about a couple hundred thousand dollars in this situation." Seagren told Clark the study was funded by federal, not state, money.
Minnesota college students told a House committee Tuesday that without more state spending the future of higher education is in doubt. "I'm worried," said Cody Nelson of Crookston, a recent Bemidji State University graduate. Budget cuts beyond what the state already has made "will likely significantly impact the student experience... (and) will go very deep into academics," he told a higher education committee that will consider budgets for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and University of Minnesota.
ST. PAUL - A judicial panel could review at least 5,000 uncounted absentee ballots for counting in the U.S. Senate election trial. Judges ruled Tuesday Norm Coleman can argue to include in the election tally absentee ballots it believes were wrongly rejected in the Nov. 4 election. Coleman is challenging Al Franken's 225-vote victory in court. The ruling, which came on the trial's seventh day, means county election officials may have work to do in the coming days or weeks and that the trial could last several weeks or longer.
"Your Heart Belongs to Me," is not a sappy Tin Pan Alley lyric, but the title of a new thriller by Dean Koontz (Bantam, $27).
Some Republican House members want to exempt new Minnesota businesses from the state corporate income tax. Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said the proposal would help create jobs. "The idea is simple: If you bring your business to Minnesota and stay for five years, we will exempt you from the 9.8 percent tax rate," Zellers said. The same would apply to expanding businesses.
The sparky points of a taser put an end to an Eagan, Minn., man's romp on Maui at the expense of a Diamond Bluff, Wis., woman he had promised to marry. James E. Jackson, 40, now sits in a Maui correctional facility awaiting extradition to Wisconsin after being taken into custody by Maui police on Jan. 9. "The judge in Hawaii wants him (Jackson) to face charges there first before sending him back to Wisconsin," said Lt.