Minnesota news in brief at 7:59 p.m. CST

Friday, February 21, 2014

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Snow makes Minnesota travel conditions treacherous

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The snow globe has stopped in Minnesota, leaving more than a foot of snow in some places for residents to dig out before the below-zero temperatures move in next week.

Friday’s daytime low dropped to 7 degrees, making this winter the 11th coldest winter on record, National Weather Service chief meteorologist Dan Luna in Chanhassen said. The average temperature has been 10.3 degrees.

“Much of the population of this state has never seen a winter this cold,” he said, and temperatures overnight Friday into Saturday will hover around zero. By Wednesday, the low will drop to about 15 below.

While the official snow total in the Twin Cities was 9.9 inches, northeastern Minnesota saw far more. The National Weather Service reported 14.5 inches in Alborn, 13 inches in Twig and 11 inches in Proctor.

The 55.5 inches total accumulation so far this year in the Twin Cities is 16.2 inches above normal, Luna said.

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Environmental projects make the legislative agenda

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - When it comes to the outdoors and the environment in Minnesota, the 2014 legislative session is going to be about money for projects.

The big borrowing bill for public works projects will be the top item on lawmakers’ agenda during the short session that convenes Tuesday. It’s expected to fund several projects affecting the environment - amid myriad others - and such measures are typically subject to much debate and horse-trading. But two separate lists of other projects will also come up. One will draw on the Legacy Amendment sales tax, while the other will tap a trust fund supported by the state lottery.

Key lawmakers and lobbyists consider those three lists the top environmental and outdoor priorities for the session. Legislative leaders have already signaled reluctance to consider tighter restrictions on copper-nickel mining or mandatory deposits for beverage containers. Some sort of game-and-fish bill may pass, although what it might include is uncertain. Other policy initiatives will have to compete for attention amid busy committee schedules and an adjournment target for mid-May.

“Things come up. It wouldn’t be a normal legislative session if they didn’t,” said Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, chairwoman of the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee, who’s seen as an environmentalist with a strong interest in water issues.

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed $986 million in state borrowing for a long list of construction projects. They include: $70.7 million for drinking water and wastewater projects; $54.6 million for natural resource projects, including parks and trails; $17 million in transit improvements; $12 million for upgrading aquatic invasive species, bee and other laboratories at the University of Minnesota; and $7.8 million for pollution control initiatives.

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Judge dismisses 3 driver’s license snooping cases

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