- Associated Press - Saturday, April 5, 2014
Heroin-related deaths rising in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Some states, including Minnesota, are reporting a rise in heroin use as many addicts shift from more costly and harder-to-get prescription opiates to this cheaper alternative. A look at what’s happening in Minnesota:


Minnesota has seen an alarming rise in heroin-related deaths in recent years and a tenfold increase in the number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction.

Jack Riley, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s special agent in charge of the Chicago office, which oversees Minnesota, likened heroin to “a weapon of mass destruction on a family, on a community, on society.”


Conservationists claim victory on new farm bill

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Wildlife and environmental groups are claiming victory for conservation practices in the new farm bill, where two of their top priorities made it into law.

Farmers will be required to use good conservation practices on highly erodible lands and protect wetlands to qualify for crop insurance subsidies. And the law requires “sodsaver” protections to discourage farmers from plowing up native grasslands in several Plains and Midwest states.

From his vantage point on a wide expanse of South Dakota prairie, rancher Jim Faulstich hopes the legislation spurs more farmers to protect the natural resources on their land.

Faulstich and his son-in-law manage about 8,000 acres near Highmore in central South Dakota, most of it restored and native grasslands on which they graze cows. They also grow a diverse rotation of crops. That habitat has proven so attractive to pheasants, trophy bucks and other wildlife populations that they launched a side business hosting hunters from across the country.

“It’s a very good investment of U.S. taxpayer dollars to encourage people to do good things on the land,” Faulstich said.


GOP selects Miller to challenge Rep. Tim Walz

ALBERT LEA, Minn. (AP) - Republican delegates on Saturday selected businessman Aaron Miller to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz this fall, and the two defeated candidates agreed not to run in the official primary in August.

Miller, a hospital account manager with Revo Biologic, told delegates that his experience in health care means he can help congressional Republicans offer alternatives to the federal health care act rather than simply try to repeal it. He also said his work in the private sector would give him an advantage against Walz in the general election.

“Let’s send him into retirement,” Miller told the cheering delegates gathered at Southwest Middle School in Albert Lea.

Miller defeated Rochester state Rep. Mike Benson and Blue Earth businessman Jim Hagedorn after three rounds of balloting.

Benson, who finished in last place on the first two ballots, dropped out, leaving Miller and Hagedorn as the only two candidates on the third ballot.


Bill would delay Minnesota’s soybean-fuel mandate

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota mandate that most diesel fuel sold in warm-weather months be a blend containing 10 percent biodiesel faces an uncertain future.

Minnesota currently requires a year-round 5 percent blend known as B5 for most diesel sales. The B10 mandate is to begin in July, and then rise to 20 percent by next year.

But there have been delays as state officials worked to ensure adequate supplies and set up regulatory protocols. Those delays might continue, the Mankato Free Press reported (https://bit.ly/PxL77khttps://bit.ly/PxL77k ).

The state commerce department previously said it wasn’t sure it could conduct timely inspections of retail outlets and trucking facilities to make certain the new standard would be met. There also was concern that blending facilities in southwest Minnesota had inadequate capacity.

North Mankato Rep. Clark Johnson recently proposed a bill that would the 20 percent requirement back another three years, to 2018. He argued that the state again needs more time to prepare.

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