Today on the MPR News Update: The gun debate at the state Capitol, campaign finance transparency, more free school lunches, and a potential alternative energy breakthrough in Pine River.
GUN HEARING: DFL legislators in St. Paul presented several bills aimed at curbing gun violence at a hearing on Monday, and were met by a room filled with gun rights advocates who cheered when a GOP lawmaker called for teachers to be allowed to carry guns at school Madeline Baran was there.
HOUSE CALL: One bill being considered by the Legislature to fight gun violence would require that some people get a letter from a doctor or mental health care provider before they could buy a gun. Dr. Dave Thorson, Board Chair of the Minnesota Medical Association, discussed the proposed legislation with Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer.
SHOW US THE MONEY: Also at the Capitol, state lawmakers are being asked to require public officials to say more about where they get their money. The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board has voted to encourage the Legislature to pass tougher economic disclosure laws. Tom Scheck says a proposal backed by the board would require officials disclose consulting interests and details about income earned by spouses.
COLD FUSION: A small Minnesota company is gambling that a new line of scientific research could lead to development of a breakthrough alternative energy. Tom Robertson reports that Researchers at Hunt Utilities Group are focusing on a theoretical energy source once commonly known as "cold fusion." They're asking new questions about a technology widely dismissed by the mainstream scientific community.
SEE THE LAB: Photographer Derek Montgomery got a look inside the Hunt campus. It's a unique place. Check out the gallery of pictures here.
FLOOD RECOVERY HELP: Officials in Rushford-Peterson and Moose Lake plan to ask the state Legislature for help for their flood-damaged schools, Elizabeth Baier reports. STAY-CATIONS? Martin Moylan reports on a survey by the University of Minnesota Tourism Center offers some good news for the state's leisure and hospitality industry.
NO MAIL ON SATURDAYS: The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion, the financially struggling agency says.
CULTURAL LOSS: "It probably makes good economic sense," Bob Collins writes at News Cut. "Maybe it's a bluff to Congress. Maybe it's not. And while we probably can do without a day of credit-card solicitation letters, it certainly signifies a loss to our culture."
LAKE LOWS: Two of the Great Lakes - Huron and Michigan -- have hit their lowest water levels ever recorded, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The lakes were 29 inches below their long-term average and had declined 17 inches since January 2012. The other Great Lakes -- Superior, Erie and Ontario -- were also well below average.
WARMING FORESTS: Big changes are in store for the nation's forests as global warming increases wildfires and insect infestations, and generates more frequent floods and droughts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture warns in a report released Tuesday.
FREE LUNCH: Hunger relief groups want the state Legislature to expand free lunch at school so that students currently eligible for reduced-price lunch can eat free. Julie Siple reports that this would cost the state around $4 million. Lawmakers and advocates pushing the proposal say it would ensure that low-income kids get the nutrition they need and aren't turned away at the lunch counter when they can't pay. But critics of the proposal say parents who could pay a little, should.
DRONE WORRIES: Uncomfortable with the Obama administration's use of deadly drones, a growing number in Congress is looking to limit America's authority to kill suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens. The Democratic-led outcry was emboldened by the revelation in a newly surfaced Justice Department memo that shows drones can strike against a wider range of threats, with less evidence, than previously believed.
HIJAB COSTUME CONTROVERSY: The St. Paul police officer photographed last year in a culturally insensitive costume has issued an apology. In a police department press release, Officer Robert Buth said the photo was taken at "a private Halloween party" on his "personal time." The statement said he looked forward to "repairing any damage which may have been caused." More from Curtis Gilbert here.
THE MILITARY AND GAYS: The military is poised to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of service members, U.S. officials said Tuesday, about 16 months after the Pentagon repealed its ban on openly gay service.
THE BOY SCOUTS AND GAYS: The Boy Scouts of America put off a decision Wednesday on whether to lift its ban on gay members and leaders, saying the question will be taken up at the organization's national meeting in May.
THAT'S IT FOR THE MOOSE HUNT: From Elizabeth Dunbar, we hear that a new aerial survey of moose in northeastern Minnesota shows the population has dropped dramatically, prompting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to cancel this year's moose hunting season. You may remember we published a photo gallery about the aerial survey. Look at it again, here.