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GOP senators introduce session’s 12th anti-abortion bill

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Bills would restrict union dues, add Voter ID; big research money for U; one more wintry blast; tax deduction musings; and more.
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GOP senators introduce session’s 12th anti-abortion bill

The latest jobs, jobs, jobs bill from the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature is a piece of legislation designed to strip funding from Planned Parenthood. Andy Birkey of The Minnesota Independent writes that five Republican senators “introduced a bill on Monday that would ban state family planning money from going to any organization that offers abortion services, advocates for the right to choose an abortion, counsels pregnant women that abortion is an option or is affiliated with any organization that engages in those activities. In fact, under the bill, family planning dollars cannot be used to refer women to abortion services even if they are explicitly seeking those services. The bill introduced on Monday is the twelfth anti-abortion rights bill introduced so far this session.”

Shades of Madison, a bill restricting union dues from being used to support political candidates has floated up in St. Paul. The AP story says: “A Senate state government panel postponed action Monday on the bill from Republican Sen. Pam Wolf of Spring Lake Park until after the Legislature returns from a weeklong break. Wolf says her proposal isn’t anti-union but meant to give union members more control over dues deducted from their paychecks. Wolf, a teacher who belongs to the Education Minnesota union, says about $60 of roughly $400 she pays in dues end up going to political action committees, foundations and publications. Her bill would stop that unless an employee made a request in writing.”

I forgot to mention that at Monday’s underwhelming tax day Tea Party rally in South Carolina, where our favorite congresswoman, Michele Bachmann whipped up the crowd … of 300 … South Carolina’s new Tea Party Gov. Nikki Haley made a point of pushing voter IDs. A lot of voter fraud in the Palmetto state, apparently. Maybe here, too, since our voter ID bill is far from dead. Patrick Condon of the AP writes: “The chief House sponsor of a bill to require a photo ID for voting in Minnesota said Monday she expects the Legislature to pass it soon — and that supporters are likely to bring the issue directly to voters if Gov. Mark Dayton vetoes it. ‘That is absolutely still an option,’ said Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, the bill’s chief sponsor and Minnesota’s former secretary of state. … Supporters of the bill say the photo ID requirement is needed to make voting more efficient, cut down on voter fraud and bolster public confidence in elections. Under the legislation, the state would purchase electronic ID card readers for local governments and provide free photo IDs to those who can’t afford them. Bill sponsors have estimated it would cost about $2.7 million to implement, although critics contend it could be more expensive. Kiffmeyer is hoping the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office could at least in part use federal funds from the recent ‘Help America Vote Act’ to cover those costs.” There is way too much irony to that last business for one story.

Big government is pushing $10 million over five years to a U of M researcher looking for ways to seal off the body’s immune system from the HIV virus. Brandt Williams of MPR reports: “Reuben Harris, a scientist in the university’s College of Biological Sciences, said most research focuses on developing drugs to kill HIV. But his study focuses on helping the body use its natural ability to destroy the virus. … The University of Minnesota will collaborate with research teams at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the University of Nebraska and Hebrew University in Israel. However, University of Minnesota officials say about half the grant will remain in Minnesota.”

I’m not particularly superstitious — other than always drinking my morning Keystone Light with my left hand — but this weather … we have been cursed. The gods are displeased. Paul Douglas says: “This Could Get (very) Interesting. Not sure if the NWS should have downgraded the Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Weather Advisory. The 12z GFS really killed the storm, swept the significant snow bands well south/east of MSP. But the 12z NAM was still suggesting 4 or 5″, and now the 18z NAM is printing out a whopping 14″ for the metro. I do NOT think we’ll see a foot or more, but I’m increasingly convinced that we may wind up with more than just “a couple of inches.” We’ll have to watch this carefully, but the odds of a “plowable snow” (sorry) just went up. I’m thinking 3-7″, with a 1 in 3 chance of 6-10″ for parts of the metro area.”

The Strib picks up a … long … commentary from The Washington Post. Community organizer Sally Kohn walks us through the reasons why liberals’ otherwise virtuous sense of fairness and tolerance is an express ticket to Chump County in today’s political arena. She says: “Liberals can keep patting ourselves on the back for standing tall and tolerant while conservatives land blow after blow, but taking the high road of civil compromise will feel less and less noble as decades of vital government programs pile up in bloodied heaps on the ground. In this context, liberals look increasingly less like open-minded statesmen and more like sanctimonious morons. There is a time for tolerance and compromise, but if the GOP is always dictating when that time is, Democrats have already lost. Suckers.”

I’m sorry, but I like this guy’s style. “A man spotted on the off-limits Red River south of Fargo was found to be using an unconventional river craft,” the AP reports. “Authorities were notified Sunday that someone was riding a ‘makeshift kayak’ in the river, which is off limits to boats during the flood. They tracked him to a residence and found the boat was really a fiberglass casket cover about 2 feet deep. Cass County Sheriff’s Detective Joel Stading told The Forum that the man said several of the casket covers had washed into his yard during the 1997 flood. Stading said the man felt comfortable using it on the water and said it floats very well.” … “several” casket covers floated in during the flood … 14 years ago.

Really? Donovan McNabb? Another aged quarterback? The word is both McNabb and the Vikings are interested. The Washington Post reported Monday: “The Vikings are indeed one of the teams interested in McNabb, according to two people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity. But obviously, no deal could be made until there is a new collective bargaining agreement. One league source said none of the teams interested in McNabb is expected to want to offer much for the 34-year-old quarterback, not because they doubt his skills but because the Redskins already tipped their hand that McNabb doesn’t have a future in Washington.” If this is true, the first question I have for McNabb is “Do you own a pair of Crocs?”

Finally, Ed Kohler of “The Deets” blog gets his head around the effect of charitable deductions on your tax status: “While there are many strange things in the federal tax code, one thing that I find particularly strange is how donations are valued. The strange part about it is that the same item will take on different values depending on who gives it away. For example, let’s say that a married couple filing jointly with a combined income of $65,000 donates a sweater worth $10 to Goodwill. They would fall into the 15% tax bracket in 2010 (the income they earned after their first $16,751 would be taxed at that rate). So, because of that, donating a $10 sweater to Goodwill would lower their taxable income from $65,000 to $64,990. And, because their taxable income was reduced by $10, their taxes could drop by their highest tax rate, 15%, saving them $1.50. More simply, they’d save $1.50 on taxes through their $10 donation. The same would apply if they cut a check for $10 to their favorite charity. Now, let’s assume that the same couple made $5,000 more per year, pushing their combined income up to $70,000. Their earnings from $68,001 and up would be taxed at 25% rather than 15%. Now, when they donate the $10 sweater, they’ll knock their taxable income down from $70,000 to $69,990. The $10 in lowered tax taxable income will be taxed at the higher rate, 25%, so they now save $2.50 rather than $1.50 when they donate the exact same sweater.” Ed, Ed. You just 404-d my TurboTax.