- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015
Minnesota lawmakers backing $16.5M plan for avian flu help

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The new state budget Minnesota lawmakers are assembling supplies $16.5 million to aid in the state’s response to the avian flu.

The appropriation, outlined Saturday, includes $10 million toward a low-interest loan fund for poultry farmers who suffered bird losses from the flu itself. Many saw flocks wiped out after they euthanized birds to halt the outbreak’s spread. The loans would assist farmers in replenishing flocks.

The federal government only reimburses farmers for euthanized animals.

The rest of the state money would go to state agencies and boards working to contain the avian flu in Minnesota.

More than 5.7 million birds have been affected to date in the nation’s top turkey-producing state.

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Tornadoes on the ground in Oklahoma as storms hit region

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Another round of strong storms, including some tornadoes, is moving across the nation’s midsection.

National Weather Service forecaster Daryl Williams says tornadoes touched down Saturday in southwestern Oklahoma near the towns of Elmer and near Tipton. Williams says another touched down briefly near Elk City along Interstate 40. There were warnings in several other areas.

Storms were also moving across parts of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota, where there were some reports of tornadoes.

Williams said the tornadoes in southwestern Oklahoma were very strong, but were in largely isolated areas. He said it was too early to know how much, if any damage was caused. A police dispatcher in Tipton said there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Emergency Management Director Lloyd Colston in Altus said there were damaged structures in the area, but had no reports of injury.

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Daudt calls transportation, tax plans “not likely” for year

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Already gazing ahead to next year, Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt is indicating time has run out on a transportation and tax-cut deal for the 2015 session.

Daudt told reporters Saturday that it is “not likely” that either can come together before Monday’s session adjournment. The Republican leader had been more optimistic earlier, when Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk was suggesting neither priority would come to fruition.

Entering session, all sides were promoting a long-term transportation funding plan as a key goal. Republicans also pushed for $2 billion in tax cuts.

A budget accord would leave $1 billion for next year to fight over. Daudt says he assumes everyone will “want to do a transportation plan and tax plan in an election year.” All 201 legislative seats are on the 2016 ballot.

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Tornado touchdowns reported in western Minnesota

MADISON, Minn. (AP) - Severe weather has been popping up in western Minnesota, including some reports of tornadoes.

The National Weather Service says a trained spotter reported a tornado touchdown just after 4:30 p.m. Saturday near Montevideo (mahn-tuh-VID’-ee-oh). Law enforcement reported part of a roof blow off a building at a farmstead about seven miles north of Montevideo. A confirmed tornado was also reported near De Graff, about 20 miles northeast of Montevideo.

The weather service also says a trained observer reported a brief touchdown just before 4:30 p.m. near Rosen in Lac qui Parle (lak-kwih-PARL’) County, which is near the South Dakota border. There were no immediate reports of damage there.

Forecasters say severe weather is also possible Sunday in eastern Minnesota including the Twin Cities.

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