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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published January 11 2014

Minnesota Political Notebook: Daudt says he was witness to dispute, not troublemaker

ST. PAUL - House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says he was a witness to a confrontation when he traveled to Montana to buy a Ford Bronco.

A Twin Cities television station reported he was involved in the dispute and was handcuffed, but not charged.

Daudt, R-Crown, said in a statement that the Montana truck owner did not accurately spell out the condition and mileage of the vehicle. “A confrontation ensued between my friend, who traveled with me to Montana to assist in bringing the truck back to Minnesota, and the seller who had misled us. ... I did everything I could to calm down the seller, diffuse the situation and get my friend and me out of harm’s way.”

Daudt said that his friend took the politician’s handgun “without my knowledge from my vehicle.” The gun was not fired, Daudt added.

“Police were called and my friend was detained and charged by local authorities,” Daudt said. “As a witness, I provided a statement to local authorities, who informed me that at no time was I accused by anyone of any wrongdoing, and that according to all accounts I was trying to diffuse the situation.”

KSTP-TV reported that Daudt was read his rights and handcuffed. However, Daudt said, he assumes that handcuffing him was “standard operating procedure” while officers tried to figure out what was happening.

Searching hunters, anglers

Minnesotans are not hunting and fishing in the numbers they used to, and a report says new approaches are needed to address the decline.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance just released a report with information that bothers anglers and hunters.

“Minnesota is in the enviable position of having hunting and angling participation rates double the national average,” Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said. “Yet challenges are ahead. That’s because young Minnesotans aren’t hunting and fishing at the levels of previous generations, long-time baby boom hunters and anglers are destined to drop out and future population growth will be driven largely by ethnic cultures that do not have long-held Minnesota-based hunting and fishing traditions.”

Hunters and anglers spend $3.3 billion in the state each year.

The report showed that about 28 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older fish and 12 percent hunt. Since 2000, Minnesota has experienced a 12 percent decline in hunting and fishing as the state population has grown from 4.9 million to 5.3 million.

The report concluded that it is good to support hunters and anglers because they provide the state with money and support environmental causes.

C.B. Bylander, outreach chief for DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division, said the council’s work was valuable. “The outdoors community recognizes the need to design and deliver more effective public and private sector recruitment and retention programs. By reviewing research and collectively applying this knowledge we can improve.”

Bonding bill coming

Gov. Mark Dayton says the public works funding proposal he will announce Wednesday will come in slightly less than $1 billion.

He said more than

$3 billion of projects has been proposed. The successful projects will be funded by the state selling bonds.

Dayton did not reveal just what would be in his proposal other than the rest of the money needed for a major multi-year Capitol building renovation project that eventually will cost more than $200 million. He also said that projects in communities divided over construction proposals may not be favored.

Bonding bills fund projects such as repairs for state and college buildings and new facilities, trails and other state infrastructure projects.

The Senate bonding committee, meanwhile, has established a website at build.mn to explain major projects being considered for funding.

Committee Chairman LeRoy Stumpf, D-Plummer, said Minnesotans should look over the site.

“We all benefit when more people are engaged in the capital investment process,” Stumpf said.

Business filings high in 2013

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie reports that 58,260 new businesses registered with his office last year, the third-highest number on record.

“This is a positive signal of Minnesota’s continued economic growth and employment opportunities,” Ritchie said. “Our state has a healthy environment for business and we hope to see this growth continue in 2014.”

The 2013 business filings represent a 17.5 percent increase from 10 years ago.

Grams noted for leadership

Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams’ widow received an award for his work that help bring the Amber Alert system to Minnesota.

Grams, who died of cancer last year, was key to making Minnesota the seventh state to use the alert as a way to track down missing children. Law enforcement authorities say the system used 28 times since it began, with all 28 children located.

The award also noted Grams’ involvement in a variety of community organizations. For instance, Little Falls radio stations Grams and his wife, Chris, owned offer free time to community organizations.