Raise your hand if you’re shocked by this. MPR’s Tom Scheck reports: “Economic growth in Minnesota is slowing to the point that Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature will likely have to overcome another budget deficit, state economist Tom Stinson told lawmakers on Thursday. Making matters worse, the state’s economy could slow even more if Congress fails to pass an extension of the federal payroll tax cut, Stinson warned. The prediction comes just three months after Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature forced a three-week state government shutdown over how to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. When Dayton and the Legislature crafted their budget agreement, they based their numbers on a forecast that projected economic growth of 3.2 percent this year. It turns out that projection was too ambitious. Stinson said national forecasting firms now predict state growth of 1.5 percent — less than half of initial projections.”
Today in Bachmannia: Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo offers a bit more on Our Favorite Congresswoman (and foundering presidential candidate’s) new legislative initiative: “Bachmann’s proposed ‘Heartbeat Informed Consent Act,’ announced on Thursday, would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, in order to view and hear a fetal heartbeat. At the time of writing, the bill has attracted the co-sponsorship of 29 fellow Republicans, as well as numerous pro-life groups as listed in Bachmann’s press release. However, even if it were to to pass the House — which would pit the Republican leadership’s competing values of supporting conservative social legislation, but also their reputed dislike of Bachmann, against one another — it could likely get bottled up in the Democratic Senate.” No snickering, damn it. It’s called “constituent service.”
Even water-rich Minnesota is looking at trouble with overuse of underground supplies. Says Dan Gunderson at MPR: “Cities, industries and farms are all using more water. State scientists have found evidence that pumping too much water from underground is damaging lakes, streams and wetlands, particularly during summer, said Andrew Streitz, a hydrologist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. ‘We’re a water rich state, and I think for the first time we’re bumping up against limits to what we thought of as a limitless resource,’ said Streitz, who studies the interaction between groundwater and surface water. To help preserve a precious natural resource, the DNR plans to test a new water management model that would give local officials a greater role in conserving water.”
A post by Joe Mikolai at the NFL-watching Bleacher Report says: “We all know about Minnesota’s revenue problems, their outdated Metrodome, the state’s budget deficit and the overwhelming opposition to local taxes being raised in order to fund Zygi Wilf’s “playground,” as opponents to the idea like to call it. Thus, with their lease up on February 1, 2012, relocation must be considered and addressed. One of the stipulations for any relocation in the NFL is that 3/4, or 23 of the league’s 31 other owners (besides Wilf, obviously), would have to sign off on such a deal. In a very preliminary estimate with absolutely no research, let’s consider how many votes they could have.” He counts 12 owners likely to block such a move.
A Bloomberg story, by Joe Richter, says Minnesota farmers are looking at a 19 percent slump in sugar beet production: “U.S. sugar stockpiles are shrinking to the lowest in 37 years after rain and freezing weather damaged the beet crop, potentially reversing a price slump and forcing the government to ease import limits. Farmers in Minnesota, the biggest beet grower, will reap 19 percent less than last year and output will drop in four more of the 10 biggest producing states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Domestic prices may rise 10 percent to 41 cents a pound by year end, said Frank Jenkins, the president of Jenkins Sugar Group Inc., the largest U.S. raw-sugar broker.”
While President Obama’s jobs bill is unlikely to go anywhere with the “loyal opposition,” MPR’s Catharine Richert breaks out the effects it might have on Minnesotans: “In Minnesota, more than 215,000 Minnesotans are out of work, according to the most recent data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The administration estimates that its bill could improve Minnesota’s job market by giving the state roughly $1.6 billion to create or keep more than 26,000 jobs. An additional 71,000 Minnesotans could be put back to work by restructuring how unemployment benefit dollars are used, according to the White House. The jobs bill would mean about $608 million for the state to support 7,900 public works construction jobs. And Minnesota would get an additional $274.5 million to upgrade schools, which the White House says would create 3,600 jobs, though it is unclear how many institutions would benefit from the cash. Part of a separate $504 million would be used to prevent and reverse teacher layoffs. The bill would be a boon to the state’s construction industry, which has seen double-digit unemployment in recent years, says Harry Melander, president of the Minnesota Building & Construction Trades Council.”
Another update on the story of the Rainbow manager first stabbed by a customer, then fired by Rainbow. From Emily Gurnon of the PiPress: “The day after a former Rainbow Foods manager said in court that he was fired from his job after being stabbed in the chest by a customer, the parent company’s CEO called the Pioneer Press to ‘provid(e) you with the facts’ in the matter. Bob Mariano, CEO and chairman of the board of Roundy’s Supermarkets, the Milwaukee-based parent of Rainbow Foods, said that manager Scott Ostrom never told his supervisors he was having trouble dealing with the after-effects of the May 9 attack. … Management was notified by other store employees of what Mariano called Ostrom’s ‘frequent’ and sometimes hourslong absences — and the absences began before the stabbing, Mariano said. ‘We can’t allow people to not meet their responsibilities,’ he said. ‘People who are junior to the store directors (Ostrom was one) have to follow their examples.’ Ostrom did not return a call seeking comment late Thursday.”
Wait until the Catholic bishops hear about Inver Grove Heights. Jacob T. Piekarski of the PiPress writes: “Inver Grove Heights is considering an ordinance that, if passed, would make it the first Dakota County city to create a domestic partnership registry. After hearing other metro cities were establishing domestic partnership registries, several residents called City Hall to ask if Inver Grove Heights had one or was considering one. It doesn’t. So council member Rosemary Piekarski Krech suggested the city consider establishing one. ‘For the majority of Inver Grove Heights residents, the ordinance will have no effect,’ Piekarski Krech said. ‘But for a few, it will mean a great deal.’ Such registries allow unmarried, committed couples — including same-sex couples — to document their relationships. Such formal recognition sometimes is required for couples to share insurance or gain hospital visitation privileges.” The Piekarskis — no relation, the reporter said on Twitter — are all over that story.
The New Ulm Journal has thoughts about donors to anti-gay marriage initiatives avoiding disclosure: “The state’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board issued new guidelines on reporting private donations on public ballot measures. Critics of the decision fear it may discourage some donors from giving to groups involved in the marriage amendment battle because they are afraid of backlash. It is a real enough threat. Target Corp. took a lot of heat in the 2010 election for donations supporting Tom Emmer for governor, to the dismay of gay rights groups. But heat has always been part of poltics. ‘Politics ain’t beanbag,’ as humorist Finley Peter Dunne pointed out way back in 1898. Those who choose to get involved in political debate, either by standing up on a soapbox and shouting, or paying others to shout for them, should have the courage of their convictions and not expect to be protected by a veil of anonymity.”