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Proposed tax cuts have strong support

Proving again that there’s nothing easier to legislate and campaign on than tax cuts … Baird Helgeson of the Strib says: “About 1 million Minnesotans stand to reap more than $500 million in tax breaks under a new proposal blazing through the state House. Taxes would drop for an estimated 650,000 married couples across the state, by an average of $120. Low-income families, those who lost their homes to foreclosure and students with college loans also would see tax relief.”

Although … Says Brian Bakst of the AP: “[A] less-flashy option also has gained some currency: saving some to prepare for the next economic downturn. … When fully stocked, as they are now, Minnesota's savings and checking account balances combine to reach $1 billion. The maximum reserve amount hasn't risen in more than a decade, so it has become an increasingly smaller percentage of the state's two-year budget, which is currently more than $39 billion.”

And again they tell us … Don Davis’ Forum News service story reports: “Brooklyn Park Fire Chief Ken Prillaman, representing fire department and chief organizations, warned committee members that they should not limit consideration to oil disasters. He said other dangerous substances such as anhydrous ammonia and ethanol are going through the state in increasing quantities. Thursday's committee hearing was the opening round of work this legislative session, which began Tuesday, in dealing with oil and other transportation hazards.”

Can’t they work from home, or out of a coffee shop? Brian Bakst of the AP says: “Minnesota Department of Administration officials released an estimate Thursday that it would cost at least $2.4 million per year on top of big upfront build-out costs to rent temporary space for state senators and staff during the ongoing Capitol renovation. Administration officials gave a range that runs as high as $2.9 million per year, not counting tens of millions of dollars they say would be required to retrofit rental space. The estimate is based on a need to find at least 135,000 square feet nearby. And it doesn't satisfy the long-term need for space given the reconfigured Capitol.”

In the Strib, Jennifer Brooks writes: “The proposed $90 million office building and parking facility hinges on the approval of the House Rules Committee. It's a great deal of money and committee members had a great number of questions at their first hearing on the subject Thursday night: Why was the project included in a tax bill conference committee report at the end of session, instead of working its way through the usual series of public hearings? Why do plans for the $63 million office building only have office space for 44 of the 67 Senators, while the rest will remain in offices in the crowded Capitol across the street? Would it be possible to scrap plans for a new office building and simply rehouse senators in an existing state office building?”

The GleanExcuse me, what? Mila Koumpilova of the PiPress says: “A St. Paul student in a wet swimsuit spent 10 bone-chilling minutes outside her school Wednesday when a false fire alarm interrupted her class in the school's swimming pool. When smoke from a science project triggered a fire alarm at Como Park Senior High School, freshman Kayona Tietz ended up outside barefoot in her wet bathing suit and a towel.”

Details … John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “A group of Duluth area physicians, nurses and medical school faculty says human health impacts of copper mining haven't been adequately addressed in the PolyMet environmental review. The group says the environmental review, which is open for public comment through March 13, fails to define the human health impacts of increased mercury emissions, exposure to asbestos-like mineral fibers and arsenic.”

There’s something semi-comical about this e-cigarette controversy. Stribbers Jim Ragsdale and Abby Simons say: “More than 100 people, ranging from tobacco lobbyists to health officials and e-cigarette proprietors, packed Wednesday’s House Health and Human Services Policy Committee hearing. Chairwoman Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, twice admonished the crowd that no vaping was allowed in the room, insisting that she could smell it. No one was spotted using a vaping device. Pat McKone, of the American Lung Association of Minnesota, told Liebling that she might be smelling the devices’ most popular flavor, which she had brought along: lemon blueberry cotton candy.”

It’s hard to go wrong taking on the least-liked company in the country. Brett Neely of MPR reports: “Sen. Al Franken’s campaign to slow or derail the merger of Comcast with Time Warner Cable took another step Thursday when Franken asked the Federal Communications Commission to look into several areas where he says Comcast has not lived up to its legal obligations. As reported earlier this week, this is a popular political issue for Franken that’s been part of his portfolio since he entered the Senate in 2009.” 

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Comments (2)

Lemon blueberry cotton candy

And yet the e-cig advocates claim their product isn't being marketed to kids. It was notable that a representative of the tobacco industry testified against the bill at the hearing. Factoid: All of the major tobacco companies now own at least one e-cigarette brand. Draw your own conclusions.

Share space, share costs etc...

Retrofit rental office space? Why not cut the cost in half; rental or otherwise? I suggest an office-share incentive. Let a conservative share space with a progressive and let er rip..o it just may be a constructive alternative. Can we all get along? Wait and see...

...and is it true that oil tank cars and the rail lines themselves are investments by Warren Buffet? But whomever owns the system, et those well-endowed owners/investors provide the security and at least share the expense of additional inspector crews? .

Then again, we are finally bringing more troops home who need good jobs, Seems like a great job opportunity to train watchdog security types for railroad inspectors whether the feds or the state or those bloody rich corporations foot the bill?