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‘Success story of the session’ (new law)

Published (5/16/2008)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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Minnesota will set the national standard for biodiesel mandates say supporters of a provision contained in a new law signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty May 12.

“This will be one of the success stories of the session,” Pawlenty said about the omnibus agriculture and veterans affairs policy law, which contains various effective dates.

The state’s biodiesel mandate will increase incrementally from the current 2 percent blend to 20 percent by 2015. Once the new blend requirement is reached, it would be effective May through September only, with the minimum content for the remainder of the year set at 15 percent.

Rep. Al Juhnke (DFL-Willmar), who sponsors the law with Sen. Jim Vickerman (DFL-Tracy), expects the new law to be a catalyst to increased research and development of biofuels moving food crops away from being the primary source for the blend. He highlighted University of Minnesota research on use of algae for biofuels. “We suspect you will see a huge movement toward these fuels, through R & D efforts.”

The law contains an unlikely mix of policy provisions including grants to livestock producers; pesticide disposal requirements; “Support Our Troops” license plates for motorcycles; and several provisions to help address needs of returning veterans.

Juhnke, whose son is being deployed soon to Iraq, said he may be looking at the law’s veterans provisions with some self-interest.

“We’re laying the groundwork for delivering vets services county by county across the state. We’re going to make sure when my son comes back, that we’re here for them, and ready to take care of their needs.”

The bill calls for a review of how veterans services are delivered in the state, including whether new veterans homes are needed and where they should be located.

Other veterans provisions include protection for reservist-owned business from civil court proceedings for a minimum of 60 days, while the person is deployed; and employers will be prevented from discriminating against the family of service members when the employee requests unpaid leave to attend deployment, reintegration and other eligible military events.


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