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Minnesota legislation written by Koch and Wal-Mart-funded group

MORNING EDITION ALSO: More bad news about tick bites; don’t eat this Cargill ground turkey; airport construction delays in Duluth; and skywriting in a big way.
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MORNING EDITION

You’re not alone if you’ve wondered how so many bills in so many different places at the same time read like they came off the same PDF. Jon Collins at The Minnesota Independent reports: “A national nonprofit that’s drawn criticism for allowing corporations to write legislation directly with state lawmakers can be traced to bills introduced in Minnesota last session, including language that would shield large corporations from consumer lawsuits and undermine greenhouse gas reduction goals. The bills were revealed as Common Cause released a report on the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is financially supported by corporations like Koch Industries and Wal-Mart. At regular conferences, including one going on in New Orleans right now, these corporations draft corporate-friendly legislation that is approved by state legislators on legislative task forces and then introduced at state capitols across the country without disclosure that the business interests wrote them. … Common Cause Minnesota found a number of recent Minnesota bills that mirrored ALEC counterparts:

  • Voter Restrictions: (HF 89, SF 479) Bill that critics say would suppress voter turnout.
  • Taxation of Moist Snuff Tobacco: (HF 1079) This bill, created by tobacco companies, would create a tax break for moist tobacco.
  • Cheeseburger Bill: (HF 264, SF 160) This bill partially shields large food companies from consumer lawsuits.
  • End Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals (HF 509) This bill opposes efforts to restrict the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Sometimes being unique is really not so cool. Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress reports: “Researchers have discovered a new strain of bacteria that sickens humans by way of tick bites and apparently poses a health risk that’s unique to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., along with public health officials from both states are announcing the discovery Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine in hopes of raising awareness among doctors and patients. Since 2009, at least 25 people from Minnesota and Wisconsin have been sickened by the bug, which is a form of the bacteria called ‘ehrlichia.’ But public health experts said there’s no need for panic. ‘I don’t think people should be scared,’ said Dave Neitzel, an expert in vector-borne diseases at the Minnesota Department of Health. ‘This is just the latest in a series of organisms being described, and I’d be surprised if it’s the last.’” Oh, so there’s more disease-carrying organisms waiting to be named?

Unrelated but coincidentally similar, Cargill is calling back … 36 million pounds of ground turkey. Says the AP: “Cargill is recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that has killed one person in California and sickened at least 76 others. Illnesses in the outbreak date back to March and have been reported in 26 states coast to coast, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. Cargill said Wednesday that it is recalling fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at the company’s Springdale, Ark., plant from Feb. 20 through Aug. 2 due to possible contamination from the strain of salmonella linked to the illnesses.”

The latest episode of government-by-obstruction, the union-based refusal by the GOP to reauthorize the FAA, is going to cause problems in Duluth. Don Kraker of MPR writes: “The partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration could delay construction of a new terminal at the Duluth airport by a year. Construction workers are framing in the front of the new Duluth International Airport terminal. The $65 million project has glass walls and a curved roof designed to resemble Lake Superior’s waves. It’s on schedule to open late next summer. But that could get pushed back to the spring of 2013 if the FAA doesn’t come through in the next month with $10 million it owes for construction.”

If you’ve ever wondered how long it would take to write “7-4-7” in the skies with a … 747, try 17 hours. Joshua Freed of the AP writes: “Boeing painted the numbers ‘7-4-7’ in the skies from Minnesota to California on the final test flight for its new jumbo jet. A map on the flight-tracking service FlightAware shows that the plane left the airport in Everett, Wash., and flew over Montana, south to California, and back north working its way across North Dakota and Minnesota, with trips as far south as New Mexico and Oklahoma, to spell out ‘747.’ The whole flight took 17 hours. The flight on Tuesday wrapped up the testing for the new 747-8 freighter to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

CNN’s Peter Hamby is reporting: “A top policy adviser to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s has left the Republican’s presidential campaign. Al Hubbard, a former director of the National Economic Council under George W. Bush, had been the chairman of Pawlenty’s ‘policy efforts’ but is no longer with the campaign, a Republican source told CNN. Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant confirmed the departure. ‘Mr. Hubbard is a financial contributor, became busy with work and is not operating in the policy role, but we’re grateful he gave us the maximum contribution,’ Conant said in an email.…In a statement [when he was hired, Pawlenty said], ‘His addition to our team adds even more momentum to my campaign that is focused on offering honest solutions to the challenges facing America.’ Hubbard did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment.” Not even, “I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family”?

Meanwhile, Kendra Marr at Politico is saying: “Tim Pawlenty will be pulling his radio and television ads off the air in the 72 hours before next Saturday’s straw poll in Ames. The former Minnesota governor’s presidential campaign says it’s not short on cash, but simply planning to divert money into turning out supporters at the Aug. 13 event that’s a traditional test of campaign strength. They’re hoping Pawlenty’s already attracted enough voters through the time he’s spent in Iowa in recent months.” That’s a lot of hoping.

Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie links to this item by Carolyn Lange of the AP: “Kandiyohi County will get less state money than it currently does to fund state-mandated programs and, at the same time, will be required to pay a greater share of some programs — like long-term sex offender treatment — as a result of the new state budget deal. The double whammy will make it challenging for county officials to plan the 2012 budget, said County Administrator Larry Kleindl, and will result in more local cuts, restructuring or higher taxes. Kandiyohi County will get nearly $200,000 less than expected in program aid next year, which will affect the county’s total levy. Individual taxpayers will feel a pinch because the state reduced Kandiyohi County’s market value credit by $524,150. What that means is that property taxes will increase for every county resident who takes advantage of the state homestead tax credit.”

Karl Bremer at the Ripple in Stillwater blog is interested in Marcus Bachmann’s mileage reimbursement records from 2006. “[Michele] and Marcus have some explaining to do about a $6,230 payment from her 2006 campaign to Marcus for ‘mileage reimbursement.’ The payment was made on Dec. 15, 2006, and was reported on Bachmann’s year-end Federal Election Commission (FEC) statement from 2006. It covered the period of Nov. 28, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2006. Curiously, Marcus’ last name was misspelled on Bachmann’s own FEC report. Based on the federal mileage reimbursement rate of 44.5 cents/mile at the time, that payment represents exactly 14,000 miles. That’s a lot of miles that Marcus put on for Michele’s campaign in 34 days — 418 miles a day to be exact — especially considering Marcus claims he drove them a month after the 2006 election was over. It would be interesting to see Marcus’ mileage logs from that busy month on the road. DumpBachmann.com thought the expense was a bit suspicious at the time, and noted the sizeable disbursement on Feb. 14, 2007. As usual, it was ignored by the mainstream media and nothing more was ever heard about it.”  On the other hand, the “mainstream” did deliver several hundred reports from the Vikings training camp.