>>St. Paul Teachers Authorize Strike as Gothard Announced 2024 National Superintendent of the Year

(St. Paul, MN) – As members of the St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) voted Thursday to authorize a strike, Doctor Joe Gothard of St. Paul Public Schools is honored as the 2024 National Superintendent of the Year. SPFE union member Leah VanDassor says, “That’s great for him. He’s not been at the table for negotiations. He’s not been a relevant factor so far so I am not sure that is going to impact us in our negotiations and mediation going forward. He’s got a lot going on right now and it would be a fresh breath of air to have him focus on the people in his own district.” With mediation still underway, it’s unclear exactly when SPFE union members would strike.


>>Upper Sioux Agency State Park Officially Closed to Public, Land Returned to Dakota People

(Echo, MN) – As of today, Minnesota’s Upper Sioux Agency State Park is closed to the public, but the land has finally returned to the Upper Sioux Community. Commissioner John Berends of Granite Falls says in closing the park, Minnesota has now betrayed both parties involved in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Berends says “The biggest danger is the division amongst our people. We spent 150 years healing from what happened, and all of this and the procedures the state has taken to do things behind the scenes aren’t helping that process.” A handful of meetings were held in Granite Falls to discuss future recreational opportunities in the area after the park is closed. Still, Berends says he believes it was to “pacify folks” while gathering information about how to spend money for recreational opportunities now that the park is closed.


>>Gov. Walz Concerned Next Farm Bill Won’t be Completed for a While

(Undated) – Minnesota Governor and former House Agriculture Committee member Tim Walz is concerned the next farm bill won’t be completed soon. Walz worked on three farm bills during his time in Congress and says negotiators are missing a champion like Collin Peterson to get the bill across the finish line. Walz recently hosted USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack during a visit to Minnesota and says Vilsack could not provide much insight into how farm bill negotiations are going.


>>Duluth Airport Receives $10M For Airport Tower Replacement

(Duluth, MN) — The Duluth International Airport, home to one of the oldest airport towers in the United States, is set to receive a federal grant of ten million dollars to aid in the replacement of its aged tower. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Congressman Pete Stauber announced the news. The new project is estimated to cost more than 65 million dollars. Additionally, the Two Harbors Helgeson Municipal Airport located in Lake County will receive a grant of over one million dollars from the U.S. Department of Transportation to build a new general aviation terminal.


>>MN DNR’s 2023 Forest Health Report

(St. Paul, MN) — A newly released report by the DNR offers a look into the condition of forests in the state. The 2023 Forest Health Annual Report monitors pests and disease outbreaks and tracks trends to help public land managers and private woodland owners understand overall forest conditions and management techniques. The DNR collected data through aerial surveys on 17.3 million acres of woodlands.
Among the findings:
— Spruce budworm damage on 664,800 acres of fir and spruce forests
— One million acres of damage to tamarack from the eastern larch beetle
— Eight new counties with emerald ash borer including Benton, Mille Lacs, and Morrison counties
— Declining oaks primarily caused by older age and consecutive years of drought.
The full report can be found on the DNR’s website.


>>MN Students Chosen for U.S. Senate Youth Program

(Minneapolis, MN) — Two Minnesota high school students will join Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith in representing the state during the 62nd annual U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP) Washington Week in March. Sydney McGrath of Minneapolis and Deepti Pillai of Eden Prairie were picked from MN’s top student leaders to be a part of the 104 national student delegation, each also receiving a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study. The USSYP program will give the students a week-long study of the federal government with senators, President Biden, a Supreme Court justice, and more, aiming to instill “more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.”


>>Rep. Greenman, Workers Advocate for Bill Restricting “Employment Covenants”

(St. Paul, MN) – Representative Emma Greenman and workers advocate for a bill to protect workers by banning “restrict employment covenants, “ or “shadow non-competes.” Greenman says “shadow non-competes” restrict workers from staying with their customers, but passing this bill will close that loophole. She notes, “It says that in service contracts, just like in direct employment contracts, you can’t have a restriction on a worker’s freedom on their ability to decide who they want to work for and when they want to work.” Greenman says the changes made by passing the bill would help promote competition in all industries to attract, train, and retain a strong workforce.


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