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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published March 13 2011

Minnesota political notebook: Minnesota to consider Sunday alcohol sales

ST. PAUL - Whether Minnesota retailers should sell alcohol on Sundays will be debated by a Senate committee Wednesday, perhaps the first time that has happened.

Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, promotes the idea after seeing Minnesotans drive over bridges to buy booze in Superior, Wis.

His bill would repeal Minnesota law that prohibits the sales, known as a blue law.

“Minnesota’s current statute prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays puts our state at a competitive and economic disadvantage, particularly in communities that border Wisconsin,” Reinert said.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States reports that Minnesotans’ purchases account for 3.1 percent of Wisconsin liquor sales.

“This hearing is a critical first step in getting the bill passed,” Reinert said. “The bill must pass the committee in order to move to a vote on the Senate floor.”

Ties, flags and colors

From the you-probably-never-even-wondered-about-it department, the University of Minnesota’s Eric Ostermeier reports what color tie each male governor wears in his official portrait.

And he list what flags, if any, governors use as props in their pictures.

In his Smart Politics blog, Ostermeier reports that 22 male governors wore red ties, 11 blue and four yellow. And, for what it is worth, three men wore no ties.

Ostermeier does not stop there. He breaks it down by party, showing that 15 Republicans and seven Democrats picked red ties, while six Democrats and five Republicans opted for blue ties. And for the record, the only independent governor wore a yellow tie.

Thirty-two governors’ portraits include flags in the background, 21 of which featured both American and state flags. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana outdid the rest; he went with two American and two state flags.

Since you probably are wondering, a dozen Republicans wore flag pins on their lapels, while only one Democrat did. They mostly were American flag pins, but two, including North Dakota’s Jack Dalrymple, wore state pins.

For his portrait, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton sat in front of an American and a Minnesota flag, wore a blue tie and left lapel pins at home.

Hemp support grows

The House Agriculture committee backs a bill allowing Minnesota farmers to grow hemp.

The committee approved the bill by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, even though the federal Drug Enforcement Administration does not allow hemp farming. The bill does not allow hemp to be grown until federal authorities change the rules.

Hemp is in the same plant family as marijuana, and debate over growing it has occurred in many states over the years, including North Dakota. It can be used to make paper, clothing and other products.

No clones wanted

Minnesota’s largest anti-abortion group supports a bill to ban human cloning.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life released a statement saying it backs the bill by Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake.

“Human life must be treated with dignity, not as mere raw material for experimentation,” said MCCL’s Jordan Marie Bauer. “This bill will ensure that human life at its earliest stages will be protected from efforts to duplicate, dissect and destroy it.”

Panel OKs ag plate

The Minnesota Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill to create an agriculture car license plate.

The bill by Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, orders the transportation commissioner to consult with farm organizations when designing the plate.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com