If the Mall of America gets bigger, Bloomington will have to swallow the entire subsidy under a new legislative plan. That’s in contrast to an existing proposal to make the region’s local governments share the pain, the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba reports. The new plan lets Bloomington impose a local sales tax to pay off the $370 million subsidy. Seems like a lot for one city to swallow, especially since the state gets most of the sales-tax bennies.The state and city could also inspect the mall’s financial records.
Minnesota Monitor reports that U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman took $6,000 from lobbyists representing the Myanmar regime.
An official of DCI Group was recently forced to resign as the GOP’s
national convention manager over the ties; Coleman’s contributions came from DCI
senior leadership, partners and political action committees, according to Federal Election Commission records. Doesn’t look like the Monitor contacted Coleman’s office for a response; then again, the post was filed at 2:18 a.m.
The Legislature passed a health reform bill, but the margin wasn’t veto-proof in the House. The Strib’s Warren Wolfe reports that changes include a statewide anti-smoking and -obesity campaign, new medical cost/quality data, coordinated, comprehensive care and another 40,000 people in MinnesotaCare. The PiPress says that the state establishes affordability standards for the first time: no more than 10 percent of a $56,000 salary, for example. An insurance mandate is out.
More health: The
guv may still veto because he can’t use some health-access funds to
balance the budget. One proponent says projected 2015 savings were cut
from 20 percent to 10 percent.
Scoping out the competition: the PiPress nabbed an “offering memo” for the Star Tribune’s land sale; bids are due today. Reporters Nicole Garrison-Sprenger and Gita Sitaramiah say the land could go for up to $60 million, and unearth two other nuggets: Strib owner Avista says the paper was the company’s worst performer last year, when the company earned $70 million, down 14 percent. Not in the story: one expert, Alan Mutter, figures the Strib pays annual interest of about $33 million.
Powerful Minnesota U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar says fed-funding-formula changes could put a University of Minnesota light-rail tunnel back on the table, MPR’s Laura Yuen reports. If environmental and economic-development benefits are a bigger part of the equation, a tunnel might meet federal subsidy tests. Met Council officials aren’t so sanguine.
Everyone reports that DFL legislative leaders decided to wait before passing unilateral budget bills. That’s so they can try to work out a deal with the guv on property-tax caps. The PiPress’s Bill Salisbury says
the DFLers’ bill includes $86 million more for local governments over
two years, eliminates the guv’s JOBZ tax forgiveness and imposes a
one-year limit on local property tax increases. The limit would rise by
inflation plus household-business growth, but that’s not strict enough
for the guv. DFL Senate leaders say they won’t pass a bill with limits in it.
The Strib editorial page calls Gov. Pawlenty’s local property-tax-cap idea “bad policy,” but then advocates “creative” exceptions for population and commercial growth. Way to stand firm, editorialists!
By a non-veto-proof margin, the House passed tighter rules for surrogate mothers, the Strib’s Kevin Duchschere reports. The Senate already passed the legislation. Surrogates must be 21, and the intended parents are responsible for the child’s support even if they breach the contract. Conservatives tried to get an abortion ban if the intended parents are unhappy with the child’s sex. “Let’s not go down the road of turning this into another career choice,” argued GOP Rep. Mark Buesgens.
Today’s talker, courtesy of the PiPress’s Rhoda Fukushima: a St. Croix sheriff’s deputy used his Taser to subdue a runaway pony. The
mini-horse was running free and couldn’t be bribed back; the
mini-electrocution was needed to avoid a rush hour accident. The owner
says the pony was “no worse for wear.” We’ll see what animal-rights
advocates say about that.
“The First 48,” an A&E network reality show, will showcase two Minneapolis detectives Thursday, the PiPress’s Tad Vezner reports. The duo, Rick Zimmerman and Tammy Diedrich, try to figure out who left a woman’s body in a burning car. Producers followed six teams of Minneapolis flatfoots, but only Zimmerman and Diedrich made the cut.
The Dilworth student suspended for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance will now rise, his mom says on the Strib’s letters page. Although her son “never meant to be political, disruptive or disrespectful,” Kim Dahl says she still thinks it’s great that America is about choice.
Two scalps for the Strib: the DNR has put a high-ranking husband-and-wife on paid leave
for possibly abusing state fundraising prohibitions. Col. Mike Hamm
ordered state conservation officers to attend a conference; the state
paid, but an officer group reaped the profits.
The Strib’s Jim Foti crafts a fun look at how he lost the Great Commuter Challenge. Driving a car, Foti finished behind a bicycling Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and transit-using Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter. Calling the deck “somewhat stacked,” Foti had to make two stops to buy gas and then buy a newspaper; not real-world. The trio had to purchase theater tickets (!), but Carter had hers hand-delivered.
MPR says U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will push a bill rolling back $17 billion in oil-company subsidies. The money instead will go to alternative energy and efficiency programs.
Minneapolis is going for coordinated “street furniture” — bus shelters, benches, news boxes, trash cans, etc. — reports
the Strib’s Steve Brandt. There’s an open house tonight, 5-8 p.m. at
the Convention Center, to look at the three options. No photos in the
paper or online, but I think proposals are here. One critic fears the look will be too sanitized, but there are revenue possibilities and the chance to de-clutter bus stops.
The Strib’s John Millea begins a series on athletic-program cuts at cash-strapped high schools. An unspecified but “growing” number of schools are dumping activities including athletics; Crosby-Ironton is on the verge of forgoing basketball; other examples are mostly lower-profile sports. Fees are going up too — it’ll cost $230 to suit up in Crosby, and $380 in Brainerd next year.
No duh: Northwest Airlines CEO Doug Steenland says the vast majority of local jobs will be preserved in a merger … unless fuel prices keep skyrocketing, the Strib’s Liz Fedor reports. This story hasn’t changed much, but papers keep fronting their sections with it.
Nort spews: No nails get bitten in the Dome as the Twins take their third of four from the BoSox 7-3. Livan Hernandez improved to 6-1. “They outplayed us,” says Boston manager Terry Francona in one of today’s Sore Losers. Another one is here.