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Health insurance exchange bill is on Dayton's desk

The state health insurance exchange is as good as a done deal. Elizabeth Stawicki’s MPR story says: “Historic and controversial legislation creating a new way for a fifth of Minnesota's population to obtain health insurance is now on its way to Gov. Dayton's desk. And he has promised to sign it. Early Monday afternoon, the DFL-controlled Senate followed the House and passed a final bill creating the new Web-based insurance marketplace known as an ‘exchange.’ The tally was a 39-28 vote along party lines.” As if anything is done any other way?

A Strib commentary on bullying from two legislators, DFL Rep. Jim Davnie and DFL Sen. Scott Dibble, says: “Recently the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act (HF826 and SF783) passed both the House and Senate Education Policy committees. We are the chief authors of this legislation. It will, for the first time, provide our schools with an anti-bullying framework to protect and keep kids safe … . This means providing clear definitions of bullying, harassment and intimidation; providing training and resources for students, staff and volunteers, and putting forward specific procedures for schools to report bullying incidents. It also means an emphasis on restorative responses that work with bullies on changing their behavior rather than simply suspending the student.”

Our problems are over … . Doug Belden of the PiPress says: “State regulators have approved the first version of a new form of charitable gaming that backers expect will boost sagging revenues meant to pay for the state's share of the new Vikings stadium. The Minnesota Gambling Control Board OK'd the first electronic linked bingo game Monday, March 18. The ‘linked’ part is important, because it means that instead of simply competing against other people in the same bar, players will match up with others at establishments around the state. That means larger prize pots, which ought to attract more players.” I, and everyone I know, are so psyched about this … .

That nurse staffing deal has a lot of sharp edges to it. Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress writes: “A compromise announced Friday in a House committee eliminated staffing standards and called on hospitals to publicly report nurse staffing levels on a website. The Minnesota Department of Health would then conduct a study on the relationship between staffing levels and patient outcomes, according to an amendment backed by DFL leaders. But Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, said Monday that both nurses and hospitals told him over the weekend that they had concerns about the compromise. As a result, Hayden introduced an amendment to his Senate bill on the subject that established reporting and study requirements in terms spelled out by the nurses union. ‘Whatever agreement that was made clearly didn't work for either party,’ Hayden said.”

And it’s back to mostly inaccessible for that license plate data … . Says Eric Roper in the Strib: “A state agency ruled Monday that vehicle location data derived from police license plate readers across Minnesota should not be accessible to the public. The ruling by the Department of Administration comes three months after Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak asked the state to reclassify the data, which the Star Tribune first reported was public by default in August. Monday's reclassification expires in 2015 … .”

At the Vikings fan site, The Daily Norseman, Christopher Gates writes: “ … the National Football League announced that the team would be receiving a $200 million loan from the league's G4 program. The G4 program is a program that the National Football League uses to help fund new stadiums for teams. (Under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, it was known as the G3 program.) The $200 million loan will be repaid by the Vikings over the next 15 years (with an option to waiver it to 25 years) via ‘revenues related to premium seating’. … For the first time in about a decade, the Minnesota Vikings don't have any stadium drama to worry about. Isn't it nice?” And well worth whatever the cost … .

The GleanPredictably, Our Favorite Congresswoman doesn’t agree with party leadership that “single issue” candidates are hurting the GOP’s election chances. At KARE-TV Allen Costantini says: “The [Republican National Committee] report blames ‘third party groups that promote purity’ for ‘hurting our electoral prospects.’ It is a not-so-veiled criticism of groups like the Tea Party and the Club for Growth, which often targets the party's own candidates who are not deemed ‘conservative’ enough. The report calls for more outreach to women, young people and minorities. Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann rejected the idea that single-issue groups are hurting the party's electoral hopes.‘I do not [agree] at all,’ said Bachmann. ‘I think that we see a lot of unity going forward and people want positive solutions and they want us to work together.’" ... to repeal socialist Obamacare. 

Really? Dan Kraker of MPR says: “The proposed high-speed rail line between Duluth and the Twin Cities inched one step closer to possible construction Monday. The Federal Railroad Administration has released the environmental assessment for the proposed Northern Lights Express. It's now open for public comment for a month. The rail line would cost an estimated $700 million to build for trains capable of 110 mph. … Annual operating costs of the rail line is expected to be $30 million, which Manzoline hopes will be covered largely by fares.”

OMG. In a Strib video … Sid … Hartman … does the … Harlem Shake, which I believe means society as we knew it has ceased to exist.                                                        

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Comments (3)

Of Course She Doesn't See The Problem

Bachmann doesn't see the problem because she is the problem. Bachmann is a woman with zero useful accomplishments because she is a single issue politician. Repeal Obamacare. The unity, she speaks of in the Republican Party, is almost overrunning the party, there is just so much of it. I guess it is the unity that is making the party so dysfunctional. It is the new and improved Michelle Bachmann. Soft and cuddly on the outside and radical and fringe oriented on the inside. She is just what the party needs for unity. Go for it Michelle. The rest of us will watch you do your work and look for your accomplishments.

not clear at all

This is NOT a clear definition. "creating or exacerbating a power imbalance between students." If I were a teacher, principal or school board member, I would have no idea what kind of bullying this refers to.

I'd like to see the ridership estimates

for a high speed train to Duluth, not to mention the projected fares.

At 110 mph, it's a roughly 1:20 ride from the St. Paul Depot, plus the time involved in getting to the depot, etc.

It's a 2:00 drive from St. Paul to Duluth and costs about $23 each way for gas (assuming 145 miles, 25 mpg and $4 per gallon). Most of us won't be going alone, so the direct per person cost could be $12 or less. Add the cost of transportation around Duluth (or up the North Shore) to the train fare and I have to wonder who's going to find this ersatz high-speed train worth considering.*

With a $700 million construction cost and $30 million more per year in operating expenses, $1 billion seems an awful lot for the first 10 years of its lifetime. After that, I have to assume we're looking at some significant maintenance costs.

So, where is the economic justification for such a line? Or the environmental justification, for that matter. A $700 million construction cost implies some substantial energy, and therefore environmental, costs.

*A one-way fare on Jefferson Lines, St. Paul Depot to downtown Duluth is currently $33.