Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Week of June 1, 2008

E-waste collections increasing: Tuesday's Star Tribune had a good editorial about how the e-waste bill I worked on in 2007 is helping consumers get rid of old electronics for free. Best Buy has now set up free e-waste collections in selected stores in three states that have electronic waste recycling legislation: Minnesota, California, and Maryland.

Legislative Reference Library: One of the resources available to legislators and the public alike is the Legislative Reference Library, located in the State Office Building. They are the repository for a lot of legislative reports and statistics compiled by state and other agencies. They have a great web site where can link to these reports.

Visit last week to Lino Lakes: Last Thursday, Senator Rummel and I tagged along with a group from State Farm insurance to look at how they are responding to storm damage. They took us to their temporary auto claims center in a parking lot in Hugo. Drivers with hail damage drove up under a tent, a claims adjuster inspected the car on the spot and entered data into a computer in a nearby trailer with a satellite dish, and the driver drove away with a check for the repairs. State Farm told me that they had handled more than 5,100 cars in four days. (This is just for one company.) Another insurance company had a similar operation set up in a lot in Centerville. We also visited a home in Lino Lakes north of Birch Street to see how the claims team assessed the damage on a private home.

Study finds Minnesota tax burden average: The Minnesota Budget Project analyzed our tax burden and found it average compared to other states. We have higher income and business taxes but lower property taxes, while other states have higher property taxes and often higher sales tax.

Minnesota Minute: A group called E-Democracy is out to "promote the online video contest hosted by the Bell Museum of Natural History as part of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial celebration. The museum is looking for videos that celebrate the natural places in Minnesota and the efforts to take care of them. Basically, the contest entails producing a 1-5 minute video of a person's experience in Minnesota's natural world and their efforts to preserve it. To submit the video, you simply upload the video to YouTube with the tag of MyMinnesotaMinute. The website http://minnesotaminute.org/ has more details."

"North Oaks tells Google Maps: Keep out, we mean it": The Star Tribune had an article in the last few days about how it asked Google to remove North Oaks from its "Street View" feature. North Oaks' roads are actually private property, so Google was technically trespassing when it took pictures of addresses from the street. The article tells you how to "take your home off Street View." First, go to http://maps.google.com, enter the address and when the image comes up, click on "Street View." Click on "street view help" in the image window, then click on "report inappropriate image."