Explore your options for travel insurance

The summer travel season is in full swing and countless Minnesotans will be traveling across the country and around the world in the next few months.  
Some consumers will be debating about whether to purchase travel insurance for their summer vacations. The Minnesota Department of Commerce wants consumers to know that travel insurance is not required to travel; however, it may benefit some consumers but not all.


Tax tips for newlyweds

Summer is traditionally a time when couples tie the knot and, as is the case with so many major milestones in life, all newlyweds should be aware of the tax considerations associated with marriage. If you or a loved one is planning nuptials, the Minnesota Society of CPAs offers this advice on addressing the tax concerns.


Whiskey plates

I am always thankful when readers suggest topics to me. Ken, a reader in Hugo, asked that I write about Minnesota’s “special registration plates” which are sometimes referred to by the more colorful moniker of “whiskey plates.”
Have you ever seen these? They are a plainer-looking license plate that starts with the letter W.  It is that first letter - coupled with what they mean - that has prompted their nickname.  
Whiskey plates are issued for a variety of reasons all related in some way to illegal drinking and driving. They are issued after someone has had their regular license plates impounded for a designated offense.


Order in the court — please!

Many citizens appear in Minnesota courts without attorneys, particularly in conciliation courts and before child support magistrates.
Some basic rules of courtroom conduct must be followed to avoid not only losing your case, but possibly being warned by the judge about contempt of court.


‘Not new to helping people’

The 2013 Legislative Session presented many challenges and important choices.
When I look back at our accomplishments, I am proud to see numerous St. Paul-related bills now signed into law. Not only did I lead some of these local accomplishments, but I actively supported legislation that honestly balanced Minnesota’s budget and invests in our future.


We all play a role in making the summer safe for our kids

Now that school is out for most of Ramsey County, it is a good time to remind ourselves why a safe summer for our kids is not something to take for granted. As parents, law enforcement professionals, prosecutors, community providers and school staff, we all need to do whatever we can to help keep our kids on track for a safe and productive summer.


Fight the fight: make your kids wear helmets

Now that it is finally spring, my neighbors are out in full force – walking, running, pushing baby strollers, and being pulled by dogs. And then there are the kids – so many kids – biking and long boarding. Who could blame them? Kids are not meant to be cooped up for nine months out of the year. 

However, I am continually bothered by the overwhelming number of kids I see on their bikes and long boards without helmets. (I can just hear my own children now as they read this – “Oh no, here she goes.”) 

I see kids all over my neighborhood and surrounding community, as young as 6 and as old as 15, biking and long boarding without helmets. (I’m guessing the 16-plus crowd with driver’s licenses is less likely to use a bike for transportation.) 


Give me a home where the buffalo roam

A view of bison on the Belwin prairie. (submitted photo)

People in the crowd gather tight and whisper excitedly. Children stand on tiptoes, while adults crane their necks. There’s a communal inhale and then BOOM! The gates open and the bison race out of the trailer and into the prairie. When Charlie and Lucy Bell set aside 200 acres of land along Valley Creek in Afton back in 1970, did they realize that their actions would eventually allow for the return of bison to the St. Croix Valley?
Though the history of development along the St. Croix River centers on logging, most of the lower St. Croix Valley was originally covered in prairie and oak savanna. Prior to European settlement, in fact, there were millions of acres of prairie in the U.S.. Today, less than 0.1% of that remains, making tallgrass prairie the most endangered ecosystem in the world. By 1970, most of the land in Washington County had been logged, plowed under for farming or leveled for development.


Critters in your yard...critters at your library

Already Mr. and Mrs. Robin have set up housekeeping on a downspout at our back door. Unfortunately, their new digs are just above our water hose, and they are annoyed when we try to draw water, swooping and scolding when we get near. But the eggs will hatch, the babies will take flight, and their infringement on our space will be short-lived. 


Field trip a real education

If ever you feel moved to complain about teachers, I recommend you spend a day on a school field trip.
You will stop complaining that they absorb too many of your tax dollars, or that they don’t do their job right, or that they get summers off. Because you will realize that if you had to work with kids all day, every day, you would not only need a summer to recover, but a prolonged stay at a local spa, or perhaps a mental health facility offering treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.