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ST. PAUL -- The focus of state budget discussions has shifted from the Minnesota Legislature's two second-floor Capitol chambers to the governor's office one floor below, where legislative leaders and governor met again this morning after a series of Wednesday meetings made progress toward a Monday adjournment. Six budget bills the Minnesota Senate passed Wednesday to replace finance packages Gov.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's political spotlight shone on high-level budget negotiations Thursday, but most lawmakers spent time debating far less sexy bills. One of the key negotiators said Thursday's talks with Gov. Tim Pawlenty did not go as smoothly as they did on Wednesday. "Extremely close yesterday, somewhat close today," is how House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, described negotiations. Seifert said negotiators were getting down to specifics.
ON THE GUNFLINT TRAIL -- A ceramic mug with a crackle glaze was about all that was unbroken in Scott Mitchell's cabin on Seagull Lake near the end of the Gunflint Trail. The mug didn't come with a crackle glaze -- intense heat from the Ham Lake wildfire that burned Mitchell's two-story log cabin on May 6 took care of that. "They'll want that," Mitchell's uncle, John Rogge of Duluth, said as he set the cup on the cabin's bare foundation walls.
ST. PAUL - Most Minnesota college students would face single-digit tuition hikes under a higher education funding package legislators passed Tuesday, but it is opposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The budget bill with $361 million in new spending for higher education, including to the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities systems, passed on the strength of Democratic support on mostly party-line votes in both houses.
SEAGULL LAKE -- Strong west winds fanned life back into the Ham Lake fire Tuesday, pushing it into new areas, torching pine trees and filling the Gunflint Trail air with smoke as thick as storm clouds. At least one additional building burned Tuesday near the end of the Gunflint Trail. "We had a lot of fire activity today in the residential area, and we lost at least one additional structure, apparently an outbuilding," Mike Martin, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman, told reporters at an 8:30 p.m. briefing near Gunflint Lake. "The local fire departments had a lot of saves today. ...
In trees, on the water and soaring overhead -- birds of all sizes, colors and varieties will be on display this weekend at the annual Great River Birding and Nature Festival. The event runs May 11-13 in communities around Lake Pepin. Presented by volunteers from Mississippi Valley Partner communities, the festival is endorsed by the Audubon Society as a unique educational experience to connect people with nature.
To find out the status of your property in the Seagull-Saganaga Lake area, call 218-387-3093. - To donate items for people who lost their homes, call 218-387-1872. - For other information on the fire call 218-387-3401. - The Gunflint Trail remains closed beyond the Cross River. Businesses and BWCAW access points from Gunflint Lake south remain open for business. Lodges, campgrounds and access points beyond the Cross River still are inaccessible to the public. - For more fire information online, go to www.inciweb.org or www.fs.fed.us/r9/superior/
LAKE WILSON -- They've known since early March, but were told they couldn't say anything until the June issue of Redbook magazine hit newsstands across the country. Well, the Redbook issue isn't out yet in the Midwest, but Greg and Jodi Gillette received a copy in their mailbox Monday declaring Greg the winner in the magazine's 2007 Hottest Husband contest. "It's supposed to be on newsstands May 15," said Jodi Gillette Monday night.
ST. PAUL - Some Minnesota legislators see uncollected taxes as low-hanging budget fruit, but the state's top revenue official said much of what they are envisioning is a mirage. Revenue Commissioner Ward Einess said he and others caution lawmakers not to set goals too high when deciding to clamp down on uncollected taxes. On Monday, his Republican boss, Gov.