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For many, a mild winter has been more than pleasant. It's also been a whole lot cheaper than last year. Xcel energy says customers are spending 20% less on energy this winter compared to last year. Although that may change soon, says Brian Elwood from Xcel, starting with the current cold snap
Besides mild temps in November and December, Elwood says a much lower price for natural gas has helped to keep energy costs low so far this winter.
(AP) Minnesota's unemployment rate continued to move downward in December to a rate of 5.7 percent. State officials say it's now lower than at any time since the September 2008 financial collapse. The state Department of Employment and Economic Development released its monthly jobs report on Thursday. The December unemployment rate declined two-tenths of a percent from a 5.9 percent rate in November. The state's unemployment rate declined a total of 1.5 percent since August. That's the biggest decrease over a four-month period dating back to 1976.
Minnesota gained 7,900 jobs in December and 25,300 jobs for all of 2012. Department official Steve Hine says economic indicators are positive, but that a full economic recovery is still a ways off with numerous potential hazards that could throw it off track.
(AP) A Wisconsin judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit against the state's controversial new voter identification law. Judge Richard Niess will hear oral arguments Thursday against the law from the League of Women Voters in Dane County Circuit Court. Niess will decide if the case should proceed. The lawsuit names Gov. Scott Walker and members of the Government Accountability Board. Attorneys for the defendants want the case dismissed. The League of Women Voters say the law disenfranchises eligible voters. But supporters of the law say it helps prevent fraud. The American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP's Milwaukee chapter have also filed lawsuits against the law. Those suits are still pending. The law is scheduled to be in effect for the state's spring primary in February.
(AP) A strong snow storm is poised to dump several inches of snow on Iowa and other parts of the upper Midwest in what for some will be the first real blast of winter. The National Weather Service in Des Moines is predicting up to 7 inches of snow in northern and eastern Iowa on Friday. It comes after several weeks of unusually warm and dry weather. Forecaster Kevin Skow says the ``bulls-eye'' of the storm will likely be in northeast Iowa, from Waterloo up to Decorah, where higher amounts of dry, fluffy snow could fall. Several inches of snow also are forecast in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois as the storm moves east. Lesser amounts are expected in central and southern Iowa, with 2 inches in the Des Moines area.
The state democratic party claims they collected 1.9 million signatures to force recall elections for the Governor, Lt. Governor and 4 republican senators. Not surprising says La Crosse County GOP Chair, Bill Feehan.
Feehan also says if you feel someone wrote your name on a recall petition people you stop into the Republican Headquarters at 58 Copeland Avenue and fill out a form saying that they don't want to have their name appear on the petition.