Three states in the Midwest (Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin) currently have laws requiring these audits, which are done by comparing a hand count of voter-verified paper records with totals collected by the electronic voting system, according to the Verified Voting Foundation. Legislators have established these mandatory checks to deter fraud, find errors, reveal when recounts are necessary, and promote public confidence in the elections process.
Eight years ago, Minnesota lawmakers established a new way of paying for health care that they said should lead to lower costs and higher-quality care. The hopes for this “health care home” model appear to have been realized. A five-year evaluation found that this model saved Medicaid and Medicare $1 billion. In addition, participating health clinics outperformed others on various quality measures, University of Minnesota investigators found.
Minnesota is the only U.S. state with an outright ban on construction of new nuclear power facilities. The state’s prohibition dates back to legislative actions taken in 1994 amid concerns and legal disputes about how and where to store the high-level radioactive waste from these plants. Minnesota has had two such facilities in operation since the early 1970s (Prairie Island, which has two units, and Monticello).
A bill was introduced this year to end the ban (SF 306/HF 1400), but it failed to advance. Two other states inthe Midwest have “de facto” moratoria on new nuclear power plants.
Faced with the choice of helping finance a new stadium or losing its NBA franchise to another state, Wisconsin lawmakers approved a plan this year to invest a mix of state and local tax dollars into the project. SB 209 was signed into law in August.
Hundreds of miles downstream from the farm fields of Iowa and the municipal water systems of Wisconsin, an enormous toxic “dead zone” continues to plague the Gulf of Mexico. This year, the zone — unable to support aquatic life due to an overgrowth of algae that sucks up all the oxygen — was measured at 6,474 square miles, bigger than some states.
All of the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution that enters the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to its mouth in Louisiana contributes to this environmental, and economic, problem.
What is the solution?
Science-based assessments show that in order to eliminate these dead zones, nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Gulf of Mexico needs to be reduced by 45 percent.
“It’s going to take much more than a tweak here and a tweak there,” Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says about meeting that goal. But that is the objective that his state has set under its nutrient-reduction strategy, which came from Iowa’s long-standing involvement in the Hypoxia Task Force: a state-federal partnership working to shrink the size of the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.