Here are some excerpts from recent editorials that appeared in Minnesota newspapers.
Minnesota can become a leader in renewable energy, but we must have the political will to do it.
Minnesota legislators have a chance to promote and develop the renewable industry this session by passing renewable energy standards legislation.
The renewable energy standards bill requires that 20 percent of the state's electric energy mix be renewable by the year 2020. The plan, which is backed by Democrats and Republicans, would require electric utilities to ramp up the share of their energy produced by renewable sources to a 5 percent standard in 2010, a 15 percent standard by 2015 and a 20 percent standard by 2020.
Current law has already moved some utilities in the direction of diversifying into renewables. Called the Renewable Standard Objective, the current law requires utilities to make a "good faith effort" to develop 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
That standard has resulted in only about 1 percent of electric energy being renewable right now.
Xcel Energy is the only utility required to develop or purchase renewable sources through a deal with the Legislature on storage of nuclear waste. It's time other utilities came on board.
The ethanol mandate has worked well to help the state diversify its use of petroleum products, and there is no reason the renewable fuels requirement can not work in the same way.
A renewable fuels standard would likely touch off an entrepreneurial boom that could bolster rural economies. In fact, another piece of legislation likely to pass that helps even out renewable fuels pricing is expected to bolster the construction of dozens of small windfarms.
Several electric utilities around the state have already started investing in wind energy. ...
Renewable sources of energy are the future. They hold great promise for diversifying U.S. energy sources and reducing our dependence on volatile markets for foreign oil and even domestic natural gas.
The Renewable Energy Standard should be adopted by the Legislature.
-- The Free Press (Mankato)
Spite seldom is a constructive motivation. That's true for individuals, as the Hatfields and McCoys' experience shows.
And it's true for states. That's why Minnesota should reject state Sen. Pat Pariseau's backlash legislation, which targets North Dakota in a ridiculously heavy-handed way.
The bill by Pariseau, R-Farmington, retaliates against North Dakota's restrictions on out-of-state hunters of waterfowl and upland game. But it's as likely to provoke retaliation in kind from North Dakota as it is to prompt the state's retreat. People have a way of lashing out when they're angry or defensive, as Pariseau obviously knows.
Plus, the bill makes Minnesota look small. Fishing restrictions that would foul even a professional angler's line, coupled with $250-a-week fees and the like -- all of which apply, in effect, only to North Dakotans? Come on.
Why not take all that energy, and use it to rebuild Minnesota's once-legendary upland-game and waterfowl habitat? The loss of that habitat is what's driving Minnesotans to hunt in North Dakota in the first place, after all.
More habitat in Minnesota would mean less hunting pressure in North Dakota. Less hunting pressure (and fewer hunters' dollars) in North Dakota would help convince the state Legislature to ease the restrictions on out-of-state hunters.
That's what's called "win-win," because it boosts the supply of the scarce resource that's at the heart of the conflict: habitat suitable for great hunting of waterfowl and upland game.
Pressure on the landscape grew as more hunters traveled to North Dakota, and the growing demand pushed up the price of a hunt. Thus, resident hunters here started feeling squeezed out. So they brought pressure of their own to bear on the state Legislature.
And through the political process, they won the current restrictions.
-- Grand Forks Herald
Few weeks remain in the 2005 session of the Minnesota Legislature, yet the body's main order of business remains unfinished.
Before the May 23 adjournment date, lawmakers must come to grips with a new two-year state budget which fills a $466 million budget hole -- that on top of the current state budget which climbed out of a $4.6 billion budget hole without raising "taxes."
The current budget featured a bunch of gimmicks to balance the budget, but it didn't raise state income taxes, keeping with a "no new taxes" pledge by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Instead, "fees" were raised to cover the deficit, one-time spending shifts were done and the state shaved dollars off its budget but forced higher property taxes onto local governments to keep the same level of services.
While the governor used the rallies to claim he "held the line" on taxes, his policies forced more than $320 million in property tax hikes and increased "fees" by nearly $500 million. And spending cuts included $185 million to K-12 education and a policy that will see 80,000 working Minnesotans taken off health care provided through the state. And cuts in state Local Government Aid to cities like Bemidji have forced double-digit property tax hikes to maintain services.
The confusion between "taxes" and "fees" has even reached one of the most conservative members of the House, Rep. Phil Krinkie, R-Shoreview. He proposes a bill that would define tax as "any fee, charge, exaction, or assessment imposed by a governmental entity on an individual, person, entity, transaction, good, service, or other thing."
Under Krinkie's definition, Gov. Pawlenty has already broken his pledge. Taxes have risen in the form of additional state-imposed fees and state shifts to local property taxes.
He should come clean, cut the cord from the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, and enter the final weeks of the session with an honest definition. If he truly means "no new taxes," then that means no additional fees or shifts to local property taxpayers who can't afford them.
-- The Bemidji Pioneer
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