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GOP lawmaker urges colleagues to ‘think big’ on Mayo, Fairview

Sequestration could hamper U research; new post-partum-depression program; dark-matter scientists intrigued by WIMPs; bridge “sound event”; and more.

In a Strib commentary, GOP Rep. Jim Abeler urges his colleagues to “think big”: “We stand at a crossroads. One path settles us into the status quo. The other would make Minnesota a mecca for medical training, treatment and health care innovation. The path to greatness lies with two visionary proposals. First, the University of Minnesota has proposed expanding its relationship with (and perhaps even acquiring) Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services, which generates much of its revenue by coordinating with the University of Minnesota Medical Center. … Mayo is poised to grow. … The risks are real if we do not act on both of these proposals. If we fail to think big, we would merely retain the status quo. Yes, we would still have two very nice institutions. But ‘nice’ means not being at the cutting edge, not pushing the limits nor competing at the top of our game, possibly losing our nation-leading health care status.” Do I hear echoes of the “we won’t be major league” Vikings stadium argument?

Coincidentally … Dan Browning on the Strib’s news pages reports: “Minnesota stands to lose tens of millions of dollars in federal medical research funds this year as a result of the congressionally mandated budget cuts known as sequestration. And while research directors at the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic say they’ll muddle through the rest of the year, they warn that funding shortfalls will stunt some ongoing medical experiments and may derail promising projects that could save lives and alleviate suffering in the years ahead. … The government pays for 60 to 65 percent of the basic scientific research in the United States.”

Also at the Strib, Allie Shah checks out a new program for moms with post-partum depression: “Treatment options have been limited for the one in 10 women who suffer from postpartum depression in Minnesota and most other states. Many were locked up with the chronically mentally ill and separated from their newborns. That’s why [Dr. Helen] Kim, a national expert on postpartum depression, spearheaded an effort to establish an innovative treatment center allowing mothers to bring their babies with them. HCMC’s Mother-Baby Program, which opens Monday, is the first of its kind in the state and one of only four in the country.”

Who let the hogs out? The AP reports: “Authorities in northwestern Minnesota were busy rounding up pigs along Interstate 94 after a semitrailer crash closed part of the highway. The crash on Sunday happened near Barnesville and involved three semis, including one carrying about two dozen pigs and another hauling cattle. After the crash, the pigs were seen grazing in a snowy area near a flipped over semitrailer.” Hey, if we’re stoppin’, I’m gettin’ something to eat.

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At nature.com, Alexandra Witze reports on the dark matter detected in northern Minnesota: “More hints of dark matter have emerged from the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS), which hunts for the theorized particles from the depths of a mine in Minnesota. Eight silicon detectors recorded three events that may represent collisions from weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. … The work was reported on 13 April at the American Physical Society meeting in Denver. ‘We do not believe this result rises to the level of a discovery, but it does call for further investigation,’ said Kevin McCarthy, a CDMS team member from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.”

The GleanStrib business columnist Neal St. Anthony offers some perspective on state businesses and increased tax rates: “[B]usiness folks support spending when they feel it’s in their interests. The Minnesota Chamber and Business Partnership were fine with new publicly subsidized stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings; some of their members are advocating for more funding for the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State College and University System. Business interests also support millions in new funding for preschool education, which a business-led coalition long has said is the best public investment Minnesotans can make. The Dayton administration commissioned a study that sheds light on a Minnesota tax code that includes billions annually in tax breaks and credits that Minnesota Revenue says amount to 40 cents on every dollar it would otherwise collect under existing personal tax rates. These ‘tax expenditures’ need to be reviewed and the report is sitting on a shelf,’ said Mark Haveman, executive director of the research group Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence.”

A poignant story from Andy Greder of the PiPress: “Donovan Campbell drove his Ford Ranger from his home in River Falls, Wis., west to the canyons of Utah, a spot he loved visiting as a child. He didn’t return home. The body of the 19-year-old bright, mathematics college student was found in a ravine of Eagle Canyon in central Utah on Saturday …The cause of death has not been determined, but his mother, Cindy Campbell said authorities told her that it’s a possible suicide. … At River Falls High School, Campbell excelled in challenging classes, said principal Elaine Baumann. ‘He was an excellent student that took challenging classes and did surprisingly well,’ Baumann said. ‘But he was also a loner, and he avoided the limelight.’ ” That’s a lonely chunk of country …

Prepare for a “sound event” near the Lafayette Bridge. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says: “On Wednesday, April 17, the St. Paul City Council will host a public hearing on an application from Lunda Construction for a sound-level variance related to bridge demolition work. Lunda is seeking the right to perform work at any time of day or night from April 20 to May 3, on Mondays through Saturdays. According to the proposed resolution, the company would provide 48-hour notice to the city and immediate neighbors before ‘any sound event’ that exceeds regular noise limits or happens after normal work hours. The single bridge is being replaced by two new spans. Traffic will switch this year to the new northbound U.S. 52/Lafayette Bridge, maintaining two lanes in each direction. The existing Lafayette Bridge will be demolished, and the new southbound U.S. 52 Bridge will be built from 2014 to 2015.”

Flash your packed heat and get 25 percent off … At KAAL-TV in Austin, Jenna Lohse posts a report saying: “ ‘Every Thursday we have a conceal and carry day. So if you come out with a concealed gun you get 15% off your meal,’ said Steve Nagel, Owner of Langtry Café. The offer doesn’t stop there. If you carry your gun out in the open, ‘that’s 25% off your meal,’ said Nagel.” And if you pump a round into the booth, do you get free coffee?