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Bachmann makes TIME’s ‘100 Most Influential’ world list

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Business tax rankings; regional flood relief; another good quarter for UnitedHealth; TiZA case going to trial; and more.
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Today in Bachmannia: Our favorite congresswoman has been deemed one of the 100 Most Influential People … in the world. (And the only potential GOP presidential candidate who made the list. Sorry, T-Paw.) Even better, since you’re known by your friends, she has Rush Limbaugh writing a testimonial for her in TIME. Says El Rushbo: “I don’t mind telling you that I’m a great admirer of Michele Bachmann’s. Far from being the fringe outlier depicted by the mainstream media — and all too often by some on the right — she is a strong spokeswoman for unapologetic conservatism. She is neither extreme nor unreasonable, which is why her philosophy has resonated with grass-roots conservatives. She is unafraid to speak out against the crushing debt crisis we face. She is energized, rather than deterred, by the caustic criticism she constantly endures.”

Juana Summers of Politico adds, “Bachmann gleefully campaigned for Facebook ‘likes’ supporting her inclusion on the list yesterday, saying she wanted to show ‘liberals and the mainstream media that constitutional conservatives are influential.’ “

Here is the full list.

The “10th lowest” … for taxes, you say? A story from the Alexandria Echo Press says Minnesota is actually a pretty good place for businesses, contrary to the the crushing pressures our “job providers” are said to be operating under. “Minnesota has the 10th lowest rate of state and local business taxes on new investment, according to a study released Wednesday by Ernst & Young for the Council on State Taxation, a study group of 600 corporations. ‘Minnesota has a tax system that is very favorable for businesses,’ Wayne Cox, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice, said. ‘The Council on State Taxation also found last year Minnesota is 15th lowest in business taxes as a share of business activity.’ Cox said the findings conducted by the nation’s largest corporations provide an accurate picture of why Minnesota is a great place for businesses.”

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack played Santa Claus to the Red River Valley Wednesday, announcing federal money for flood control. Jonathan Knutson of the Grand Forks Herald reports: “As much as $10 million more will be available to help eligible landowners in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota through a wetlands program that seeks to reduce flooding and enhance wildlife, Vilsack said in a telephone interview with Agweek. ‘You’ve obviously been experiencing some terrible flooding for many, many years. We think we can be of some assistance,’ he said. The voluntary Wetlands Reserve Program helps farmers and other landowners protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial support to the landowners.” Duck hunters will be thrilled.

Speaking of T-Paw, he was in Nevada Wednesday, talking nuclear waste storage and the moral perils of gambling. The State Column reports: “The former Minnesota governor focused on Nevada’s Yucca Mountain and storage of radioactive material in the potential federal repository. ‘We need to have a safe, permanent facility to house our nuclear waste in this country or somewhere else,’ Mr. Pawlenty said. ‘It appeared in 2002 that that would probably be Yucca Mountain, but some things have changed since then. And I continue to believe we need to solve the problem and have a repository for our waste.’ … The potential Republican presidential candidate also talked gambling, saying the issue should remain under the purview of local and state government, not the federal government nor the president. Nevada’s Jon Ralston questioned Mr. Pawlenty’s criticism of gambling, noting Mr. Pawlenty had said it ‘destroyed lives.’ ‘Clearly gambling has a corrosive effect on some people’s lives, clearly it does, you can’t deny that, I mean of course it does,’ Mr. Pawlenty said before adding that it should face some form of regulation.”

Ever upward at UnitedHealth. The word today is that our local health insurance dynasty has had … another … very good quarter. Pat Wechsler of Business Week writes: “UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. insurer by sales, rose the most since 2008 in New York trading after increasing its full-year forecast on higher enrollment and a decline in the company’s medical spending. UnitedHealth gained $4.33, or 9.8 percent, to $48.57 at 9:37 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading … The Minnetonka, Minnesota-based insurer said 2011 net income will be $3.95 to $4.05 a share, more than a January forecast of as much as $3.70. First-quarter earnings were 36 cents a share higher than the average estimate of seven analysts. UnitedHealth is the first of the major health insurers to report earnings that include the impact of government-mandated spending that kicks in this year. The health-care overhaul signed into law in 2010 requires managed-care companies to spend at least 80 percent of revenue collected from premiums on care or rebate the difference to clients. UnitedHealth said it spent 81.4 percent in the first quarter. ‘The impact of the new regulations was less than expected,’ said Jason Gurda, an analyst at Leerink Swann & Co. in New York. ‘This was also UnitedHealth’s best quarter for investment income in 11 quarters.’ ” There will be an audit on that 81.4% figure, right?
Katherine Kersten, your prayers are being answered. The PiPress’s Mila Koumpilova reports: “A federal judge on Wednesday shot down a Twin Cities charter school’s bid to dismiss an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit claiming it promotes Islam, clearing the way for a summer trial. In a ruling spelling out why the 2-year-old case merits a trial, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank offered an unusually detailed account of close ties between the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy and the religious organizations that acted as its landlords. TiZA strongly denies allegations that it promotes religion. Its lead attorney cautioned that the Wednesday ruling reflects ACLU allegations that the school will fight at trial.”

Both sad and poignant, the little boy from Dilworth, Minn., afflicted with multiple birth defects died on his Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. Amy Dalrymple of InForum reports: “Angie and Desi Hart said their son, who had more than 55 surgeries and procedures in his lifetime, was fairly healthy when Make-A-Wish Foundation representatives approached the family about granting Daytyn a wish. After Daytyn chose to go to Disney World, his parents discussed the trip with his doctors. ‘Everyone agreed that he was 100 percent healthy and able to go,’ Desi said. Daytyn enjoyed four days in Florida, swimming daily at a resort and visiting Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Cocoa Beach. But on the fifth day while visiting SeaWorld, the usually vibrant Daytyn became lethargic, and his parents took him to the hospital. The following morning, Daytyn died after complaining of pain, leaving his parents with questions about what caused his death.”