Probably the only thing Gov. Dayton likes about Judge Gearin’s shutdown ruling today is that it pretty much follows his list of “essential” services. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib writes: “While Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin ordered core services to stay functioning in a shutdown, she also said she had very limited authority to order other services funded. She ordered health care, prisons, nursing homes and veterans homes funded. Unlike Dayton, she also ordered previously appropriated money to flow to schools and cities. ‘There is no doubt that cities dodged a major bullet this morning that may have crippled communities,’ said Park Rapids Mayor Nancy Carroll, president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. The shutdown would still be painful, based on the outline of the judge’s ruling. The appeals of Dayton’s decisions on what should be funded and not would go to a ‘special master’ who would sort through details. Gearin ruled that former Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Blatz should be that special master.”
MPR’s Catharine Richert has a “scorecard” of what Gearin approved to stay open and what will close. A sample: “Education Department: 6 workers — Support for critical services will continue — A system to report the mistreatment of minors will remain in place. — Payments to school districts will remain in place. … — Public Safety: 1,031 workers. The state’s cops and 911 workers will not be laid off. — Homeland Security and emergency communications will continue. — Security of the state Capitol complex will remain in place.”
There’s been a very nice uptick in the export of Minnesota products. Dee DePass of the Strib reports: “The report, from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), was a burst of good news after a series of vacillating economic reports that seem to delay the economic recovery the state so desperately needs. Manufactured goods accounted for the bulk of the export results as factories recorded $4.4 billion in total sales for the quarter. That was a 12 percent jump from the same period a year ago and compares with a 16 percent increase nationwide.” Now, as long as we don’t do anything stupid that might imperil that growth …
Andrew Harris of Bloomberg covers TCF’s defeat in Appellate court over those lucrative swipe fees: “TCF Financial Corp. (TCB) failed to persuade a U.S. appeals court to block a federal regulation capping the fees the biggest U.S. banks can get from retailers for processing debit-card transactions. The St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals today, in a unanimous 9-page ruling, upheld an April decision by U.S. District Judge Lawrence L. Piersol that the lender hadn’t shown it was likely to prevail on its claims the cap is unconstitutional. The swipe-fee cap, to be set by the Federal Reserve, applies to all U.S. banks with at least $10 billion in assets. The measure, sponsored by U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, was an addition to last year’s Dodd-Frank financial overhaul legislation. ‘No legal prohibition exists against TCF fully recouping the costs of its debit-card services by assessing customer fees,’ the three-judge appeals court panel said today.” Who doubts TCF’s Bill Cooper will find another way to fight this?
The, uh, “anti-marriage equality” crowd is speaking up, as the action in that fights shifts from New York to Minnesota. Paul Stanley of The Christian Post writes: “Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, described the other side as ‘definitely desperate’ in trying to win at the ballot box, according to The Associated Press. ‘We expect to be outspent,’ he said. Monica Meyer of OutFront Minnesota told AP, ‘These ballot measures are so expensive and so divisive. If we can defeat this, it sends a strong message that at some point soon these things just aren’t going to be brought up at all anymore.’ However, the odds are against them. While supporters of homosexual unions are eager to test the willingness of voters on same-sex marriage, voters are not as sympathetic to the homosexual movement. Typically, when mid-western and southern states are asked to vote on pro-family issues, such measures pass with majorities in the mid-sixties to low seventy percentile.”
MSNBC’s investigative reporter Michael Isikoff reported last night on $137,000 in Medicaid payments accepted by Michele Bachmann’s husband’s clinic: “While Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., has forcefully denounced the Medicaid program for swelling the ‘welfare rolls,’ the mental health clinic run by her husband has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005, according to new figures obtained by NBC News. The previously unreported payments are on top of the $24,000 in federal and state funds that Bachmann & Associates, the clinic founded by Marcus Bachmann, a clinical therapist, received in recent years under a state grant to train its employees, state records show. The figures were provided to NBC News in response to a Freedom of Information request. The clinic, based in Lake Elmo, Minn., describes itself on its website as offering ‘quality Christian counseling’ for a large number of mental health problems ranging from ‘anger management’ to addictions and eating disorders.” Nothing quite says Tea Party Christian like living off socialized medicine.
Sen. John Howe is adding gloss to his GOP apostate status by suggesting, in a Winona Daily News editorial, that the state add new revenues: “[W]e could use the current budget stalemate — and looming government shutdown — as the impetus to truly fix a system that is crying out for reform. The prospects for averting a shutdown are not good. Gov. Mark Dayton is insistent on an income tax increase that he will never get through the Legislature. The House and Senate believe they have compromised by giving up tax cuts that many of their members want very badly. With both sides clinging to ‘win/lose’ positions, we have a crisis that cries out for a ‘third way’ solution involving real reform. The first step toward that solution would be to drastically reduce — or even eliminate — Minnesota’s income tax. One reason we have spent the past 25 years lurching between large budget surpluses and deficits is that income tax receipts are notoriously unreliable. They go up quickly in good times, and fall rapidly in bad times, and make it nearly impossible to make accurate long-term budget forecasts. It’s tough enough for politicians to see beyond the next election; that’s especially true when the budget forecast numbers are so volatile. One low, flat rate for all taxpayers would accomplish important goals. It would improve our ability to compete for jobs and business expansion. It would substantially reduce tax avoidance and tax evasion. Furthermore, it would remove the ‘class warfare’ accusations that are taking place. No one benefits from the efforts to pit one group of Minnesotans against the other. The next step involves adjusting our sales tax rate while extending it to include other items, such as clothing or perhaps even food. The immediate objection would be that those taxes would weigh more heavily on the poor. That concern could be addressed by providing a tax rebate for lower-income Minnesotans that would offset some of the sales tax broadening, ensuring progressivity in the total tax burden.” Remind me Senator, who is making these “class warfare” accusations? And do you see an irony therein?
This may be the week that decides the fate of T. Boone Pickens’ 75-megawatt Goodhue wind farm project. Dan Haugen of Midwest Energy News says: “Last October, about a year after the developer applied for site permits, Goodhue County adopted a setback ordinance that bans wind turbines within 10 rotor diameters of any non-participating neighboring home — or about half a mile in this case. That’s in stark contrast with state law in Minnesota, which generally requires setbacks between 750 and 1,500 feet based on noise and other factors. The local ordinance grew out of grassroots opposition from a group of county residents who fear the turbines will upset their quality of life. The developer, which has partnered with about 200 other local property owners, says the project can’t go through under the local setback rules. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is likely to give its final say on the matter Thursday after months of testimony and discussion. Its decision will be the first major test of a 2007 amendment that gave counties limited authority to adopt more stringent wind setbacks than those spelled out in state law.”
To no one’s surprise, Andy Birkey of The Minnesota Independent reports that Michele Bachmann’s hubby, Marcus, has donated money to get the marriage referendum on the ballot: “According to State of Minnesota records, Dr. Marcus Bachmann has provided financial support to the Minnesota Family Council’s successful lobbying campaign to get a constitutional ban on gay marriage onto the ballot in 2012. The amendment was the brainchild of his wife, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who officially announced on Monday that she was running for President of the United States. Dr. Bachmann provided financial support to the Minnesota Family Council in its efforts to lobby Minnesota Republicans to pass the constitutional amendment. According to Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board records, he donated in 2009 and 2010. The document only provide the names of individuals and corporations who have donated to lobbying campaigns, not the amounts donated. The Minnesota Independent will be looking into other donors to the campaign in coming days.”
And who doesn’t like something new to worry about? Like the dreaded Powassan virus? The what? Maura Lerner of the Strib writes: “A woman from northern Minnesota has died, and a man from Anoka County has been hospitalized, as a result of brain infections from a tick-borne virus called Powassan, the state health department reported Wednesday. The unidentified woman, in her 60s, was the first person to die of the infection in Minnesota, health officials said. The Anoka County man was treated and is now recovering at home. Both became ill in May after noticing tick bites and spending time outdoors. Officials say the woman was likely exposed near her home, while the man may have been exposed near his home or at a cabin in northern Minnesota. Powassan virus is one of the infections that can be spread by deer ticks, which also can spread Lyme disease.”