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English Language Classes for Cambria Workers Catching on at Other Companies

A program pioneered by the countertop manufacturer Cambria to offer English language classes to help immigrant workers better succeed at work and in society has become a model for both public and private sector employers. The Star Tribune recently profiled a Cambria employee named Baltazar Ruiz whose challenges with English still held him back years after immigrating legally to Minnesota--until he took advantage of the company's language course offered on the job. Cambria had an ambitious goal: make sure all of its 300 foreign-born workers at the 650-worker factory could read and write English at an eighth-grade level or above. The...

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Bill Kills Controversial Licensing Requirement for Independent Makeup and Hair Stylists

There may not be a better example of how occupational licensing requirements too often exist not so much to protect the public but rather the producers and providers already offering the service targeted for licensing. The state cosmetology board has threatened the livelihoods of small business owners who have the audacity to provide hair styling and makeup services for weddings and other special events without first obtaining a state license. In 2018 the board arbitrarily ruled freelance stylists and makeup artists need to have a license, backing up its threat with enforcement action detailed by MPR. The Minnesota Board of Cosmetology, a...

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Efforts to Prevent The Walz Administration’s California Car Mandates Advance in the Senate

Today was a step forward for the efforts of conservative lawmakers to prevent the Walz administration from imposing unpopular California car mandates on Minnesotans. Senate File 3496 passed out of the Minnesota Senate's State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee. You can watch the hearing on the bill at the link below. https://www.facebook.com/mnsrc/videos/2275278436108528/?comment_id=2275304272772611&notif_id=1583437629234897&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic   I've previously testified in front of the Senate on this bill, explaining why it would be beneficial for Minnesota consumers. I also detailed that while the costs would be significant, the environmental benefits would be immeasurably small. It is encouraging to see that the Walz administration's attempt to...

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Despite More Turbines, Minnesota Wind Production in 2019 Was Still Below 2017 Levels

If you build them, the wind won't necessarily come. I've recently reported that wind facilities in Minnesota produced less electricity in 2018 than 2017, and newly-released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows electricity generation from Minnesota wind facilities was about one percent less in 2019 than 2017, although 2019 saw more generation from wind turbines than 2018. The decline, relative to 2017 generation, occurred despite the fact that there are about 3.6 percent more wind generation capacity installed in Minnesota today (3,843 megawatts) than there were at the end of 2017 (3,699 megawatts), according to the U.S. Department of Energy's...

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Minnesota Ranked as 4th Biggest Mining State in 2019

Many people in the Twin Cities are vaguely aware of the fact that Minnesota mines iron ore, but few understand the scale or importance of mining to the communities who develop our iron ore resources, or the important implications it has for our country. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Minerals Commodities Survey, Minnesota leapfrogged California to become the 4th largest mining state in the country, based on the value of minerals sold. The primary minerals mined were iron ore, lime, sand and gravel (construction), sand and gravel, (industrial), and crushed stone. Minnesota improved one spot in the ranks compared...

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Federal Data Confirms Minnesota Solar Panels Don’t Work Well in Winter

Recently-released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms what many of us already knew, that solar panels don't work well in our Minnesota winters. The data is interesting because this is the first time EIA has shown the productivity (or capacity factor) of solar panels on a monthly basis, as you can see in the graph below. While solar panels generated nearly 30 percent of their potential output in July of 2018, electricity generation from Minnesota's solar fleet dropped to 5.6 percent by December. There are multiple reasons for this. One, the days get a lot shorter in the winter...

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Why Is Governor Walz Trying to Mandate Cars That Nobody Wants?

Last week, I testified before a joint hearing of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee about the Walz administration's desire to force Minnesotans to comply with California's car mandates for low emission vehicles (LEVs) and zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). During their testimonies, advocates of these new mandates claimed they are needed because there is a huge demand for some models of electric vehicles (EVs) that are not currently offered Minnesota, and that they would be offered here if the mandates went into effect. However, survey data from CleanTechnica.com, which is a website dedicated to promoting renewables and electric vehicles, shows...

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