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New year brings new Minnesota laws

Kevin Duchschere of the Strib has a list of new laws now in effect: “Minnesota is requiring school buses manufactured from now on to have right-side crossing-control arms to protect students. The crossing arms must be attached to the right-front bumper and automatically extend when the bus is stopped and flashing red lights are used. … Another new law regulates insurance to cover the loss or damage of portable electronic devices such as cellphones, laptop computers and tablets. Extended warranties, which are typically sold to customers when they buy the product, now must be offered and sold separately and not as part of a package. The law also requires sellers to tell the customers that the premium will be refunded on a prorated basis when the warranty is canceled.”

In MPR’s rundown of reaction to the fiscal cliff deal on the part of the Minnesota delegation, there is this: “In the House, DFL Reps. Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and GOP Rep. John Kline voted to support the Senate measure. Voting ‘no’ on the bill: GOP Reps. Erik Paulsen, Michele Bachmann, Chip Cravaack and DFL Rep. Collin Peterson. … Rep. Bachmann: ‘America is at a moment that requires big solutions to big problems. Instead, Washington politicians have engineered a last minute backroom deal that does not address America's jobs and debt crisis,’ Bachmann said in a statement on her website after the vote. ‘Rather than a deficit reduction plan, the Senate sent us a grow government plan.’ … Rep. Erik Paulsen: ‘At a time when Washington borrows 46-cents on every dollar it spends, we need a long term solution to cut spending and fundamentally reform our outdated tax code,’ Paulsen said. ‘It's unconscionable that the Senate chose to give hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to industries like Hollywood and NASCAR, but chose not to stop the devastating new tax on the life-saving and life-improving medical device industry. The medical device tax, which took effect yesterday, will harm one of Minnesota's true success stories.' " If they give awards for single-mindedness, Paulsen is a first ballot Hall of Famer for his medical device mantra.

Apparently the three-martini lunch is still in vogue among certain (very) young entrepreneurs. Heron Marquez Estrada of the Strib reports: “After more than a decade of behavior more suitable to ‘Animal House’ than a brokerage house, the DECA club at Apple Valley High School has been given a pink slip after a number of students were reportedly drinking booze at an off-campus conference. Principal Stephen Degenaar ordered that DECA, a club for business-minded students, be disbanded following an investigation into alleged drinking at a conference in Bloomington.”

Here’s a whiff of positive business news. John Welbes of the PiPress writes: “A monthly survey of supply managers shows that Minnesota's business conditions improved in December, and the outlook for the state is positive for the first half of 2013. Minnesota's index number jumped to 57.2 in December compared with 48.4 in November. An index number greater than 50 indicates economic expansion over the next three to six months. One contributor to the improved outlook has been Minnesota's unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, which is well below the national rate of 7.7 percent, said Ernie Goss, a professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., who compiles the index. In the last year, Minnesota's labor force has shrunk by 7,000 workers, which has contributed to the drop in unemployment. But there have been real job gains as well. ‘Since the national economic recovery began in July 2009, Minnesota has added more than 9,000 manufacturing jobs,’ Goss said.”

2013 is off to a happy start for a couple of people up north. Krista Burns of KBJR-TV says: “Two Minnesota State Lottery ticket buyers are starting off 2013 with a bang, matching the numbers to win $1 million each. The winning Minnesota Millionaire Raffle tickets were sold in Crow Wing and Pine Counties. These are just two of 150 winning raffle tickets from Tuesday's drawing. Five tickets, each winning $100,000, were sold in Brown, Olmsted, Ramsey (2) and St. Louis counties. There are also five tickets each worth $25,000.”

The GleanAt WCCO-TV, Eric Henderson savors ripping the Year’s Worst Movies, saying: “And if I opted not to focus on the business-as-usual idiocy of Battleship, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Rock of Ages and the latest Ice Age installment, it’s not because movies that play to the lowest common denominator don’t need to be called out for further lobotomizing movie culture in general. They clearly do. I omitted them from consideration because, frankly, they don’t count as movies at all. Here are movies that tried a little harder, and tripped up a lot harder. … 06. The Lucky One (dir. Scott Hicks) – A beautiful Iraq War widow in the Deep South can’t stop sweating whenever she gazes out her window and sees an even more beautiful, pectorally-gifted Iraq War veteran doing all her house chores for next to no pay. There is no question that her son wants the sensitive roamer (played somnambulantly by Zac Efron) as his new father. And yet somehow our heroine finds a way to bend over backwards to stay with her abusive current beau. Yeah, Nicholas Sparks, this sort of material is clearly superior to William Faulkner. … 10. Les Misérables (dir. Tom Hooper) – You probably liked this movie. You’re wrong.” If I don't get the basement cleaned, my wife is threatening me with that last one.

This reminds me, I’ve got a lightbulb out in the garage … According to the AP: “The Minnesota Capitol is getting its glow back. A majestic chandelier weighing a ton and stretching six feet in diameter will soon retake its place inside the Capitol dome that towers over the rotunda. The chandelier has been in a wooden box for more than two years while construction crews worked to fix a problem with the dome that was letting water seep in. In the Capitol's century-old life, the chandelier has been lowered only six times. The chandelier has 92 bulbs surrounded by 40,000 crystal beads strung together.” Every democracy needs a touch of Versailles.

Other than being filmed in the act on a color security cam, this guy has no problems. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib: “A man swiped a pricy diamond ring from a Coon Rapids jewelry store and left the sales clerk injured in the process, authorities said. The theft occurred about 4:35 p.m. Sunday at Kay Jewelers near Northdale Boulevard and Main Street, according to the Anoka County Sheriff's Office. The value of the ring, with a 1.6-carat Leo diamond, is more than $15,000. The man asked to see a specific engagement ring for a closer look, the Sheriff's Office said. That's when he forced the ring from her hand and ran from the store. … He is described as white, 19 to 21 years old, 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, with sandy blond hair. He had on a tan jacket with a fur collar, blue jeans and blue shoes. A witness saw him leave in a white two-door Toyota Celica.” He might as well have just left his address.

Martin Moylan at MPR has a story about those “loyalty programs” that give you money back and/or perks for heavy spending: “Some 40 million people are members of Best Buy's Reward Zone program, which basically gives shoppers rebates equal to 2 percent of their spending. Richfield-based Best Buy treasures those customers. ‘Well over half of Best Buy's revenue is attached to our Reward Zone customers,’ said Bob Soukup, who oversees Best Buy's reward program, which is in its 10th year. ‘We do a lot of analysis on the program, and we can definitely report that the program is beneficial to Best Buy,’ he added. ‘And our customers tell us they find it beneficial as well.’ … According to Colloquy, an Ohio-based consulting firm focused on loyalty marketing, the average U.S. household is signed up for 18 programs overall — counting those offered by retailers, airlines, credit card companies, hotels and other businesses. Households participate actively in an average of eight of those program.”

Paul Huttner, MPR’s weather guy, is saying: “ This is yet another early "trend" indication that may or may not pan out to some degree ... but. The GFS model is locking onto a solution that brings some barbarically cold arctic air south into Minnesota after January 12th ... a week from Saturday. If the scenario pans out, we could be looking at several days below zero ... with temps as cold as -20F or -30F possible close to if not in the metro. Make no mistake about it ... there is bitterly cold air in Canada and inside the Arctic Circle right now. It's probably just a question of when ... and not if a significant shot of sub-zero air is coming south this month. I think Minnesotans who are hoping for or forecasting a wimpy abbreviated winter may be in for a shock by mid month.” Oh, stop the mewling. It’ll be great for bragging ...

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