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Study: Three years of gay marriage = $42 million in revenue

Bad weather good for easing drought; Xcel Energy’s regional plans; chickens aplenty; mixed review for MIA’s “Truthiness”; House DFL eyes sin taxes; and more.

Someone has put a dollar number on the value of gay marriage. Doug Belden of the PiPress writes: “Legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota would add $42 million to the state’s economy and $3 million in tax revenue in the first three years, according to an analysis from UCLA law school. The Williams Institute at UCLA conducts research on ‘sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy,’ according to its website. Last month, the institute estimated same-sex marriage in Illinois would generate more than $100 million in additional spending and $8.5 million in tax revenue in that state. In Minnesota, analysts figured, about 5,000 gay couples would choose to marry in the three years following legalization of same-sex marriage.” And then if they legalize marrying turtles, like they say on talk radio, think of the money we’ll be rolling in.

OK, so maybe the drought won’t be as bad … Bill McAuliffe of the Strib tries to paint daisies on our godawful miserable weather: “Miserable as it has been, the rain (and slush and snow) of the past week has brought some good news for southern Minnesota: a turn away from drought on the eve of the growing season. Up to 4 inches of precipitation in the past seven days across the southern one-third of the state fell on newly thawed ground, where it has begun to replenish soil moisture lost during months of drought. ‘It’s good news in terms of everybody’s state of mind,’ state climatologist Greg Spoden said. ‘The long spell of cloudy, dreary and rainy weather will be worth it when spring arrives and we won’t be springing right into a serious drought situation in southern Minnesota.’ ” Pollyanna …

So will natural gas always be cheap? Dave Shaffer of the Strib says: “Xcel Energy on Monday proposed building three new electrical generators in Minnesota and North Dakota that would burn natural gas. One unit in Burnsville and two near Hankinson, N.D., 70 miles south of Fargo, would supply power when customer demand is at its peak, and would not operate most of the time, the utility said in a statement. The Minneapolis-based utility, which serves 1.2 million customers in Minnesota and 90,000 in North Dakota, has projected a need for additional electrical generation later in the decade.”

Is it just me or are chickens the foundation of the entire restaurant industry? Mike Hughlett at the Strib writes: “Popeyes fried chicken, which recently took over 12 former KFC outlets in a bankruptcy court battle, plans to establish 18 more stores in the Twin Cities after the initial dozen are converted. Chick-fil-A, a large chain renowned for its chicken sandwiches, is developing three new restaurants in the Twin Cities to accompany the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport outlet it opened last year. The company says Minneapolis-St. Paul is a growth market. And all of this chickenicity is going on in the hen house of Buffalo Wild Wings, one of the nation’s fastest-growing restaurant concepts. … ‘The chicken category is very strong,’ said Bob Goldin, executive vice president at restaurant consultant Technomic Inc.” Whatever you do, don’t rent “Food, Inc.”

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The GleanAt the national website Mediaite, Matt Wilstein gets around to last month’s poetry slam here in Minnesota: “[P]oet Sierra DeMulder delivered a scathing take down of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) centered around the alleged gay ‘conversion therapy’ center run by the congresswoman’s husband Marcus Bachmann. With her one minute entry in the competition, the young poet accused Bachmann of refusing to ‘acknowledge the bullying of gay students in your district’ because of the money her family makes from the clinic. ‘When another gay teenager commits suicide in Minnesota,’ DeMulder said, ‘you consider this free advertising. You buy a new necklace for every hanging, a bottle of Merlot for each overdose, your husband sends ‘thank you’ cards to their funeral, hand-signed, all referrals welcomed.’ ” No soft edges there …

First guns, now they want to grab yer smokes and booze … Baird Helgeson of the Strib says: “A new House DFL tax plan would raise $2.6 billion by tapping high earners, smokers and, in the newest wrinkle, drinkers. The plan would place a temporary surcharge on the wealthiest wage-earners, catapulting Minnesota’s income tax rate to third-highest in the nation. At the same time, state taxes on beer, wine and hard liquor would double. The alcohol tax, which hasn’t risen in more than 20 years, would increase by 7 cents a beer, 47 cents per bottle of wine and $1.58 cents per bottle of hard liquor.”

At The Wall Street Journal, Peter Plagens ends up being less than thrilled with the Institute of Arts’ new show: “The Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness” presents 60 contemporary works in various media that straddle the line between fact and fiction — not only in optical trickery, but in bogus biography, fake history and mendacious politics. … Even the show’s catalog — an attractive, tradehouse-size hardbound book — has too many styles of layout, too many essays, by authors ranging from Museum of Modern Art director Glenn Lowry to California Institute of the Arts professor Norman Klein (a historian of architecture, media and culture), and too many different kinds of paper. While eminently entertaining, ‘More Real?’ ends up being a symptom of, rather than a conclusion about, the shifting, hall-of-mirrors levels of reality it purports to analyze.”

Surly Brewing is going in to Prospect Park … in close proximity to one of its target demos. Melanie Sommer of MPR writes: “The company bought 8.3 acres on the northeast corner of Malcolm Avenue and Fifth Street SE, just off University Avenue, for its $20 million ‘Destination Brewery.’ The project will feature a bar, restaurant, beer garden, and event center with the capability to produce more than 100,000 barrels of beer each year. … The site is a ‘brownfield’ which will require environmental cleanup before construction can begin. Surly has contracted with environmental specialists Barr Engineering to perform the cleanup.”

GOP Rep. Jim Abeler may be urging his colleagues to “go big” on the Mayo and Fairview deals, but as the AP reports, the House DFL is of a different mind: “Democrats want to trim the state’s contribution to a Mayo Clinic expansion proposal by about $200 million from an original request of about $500 million from the Rochester healthcare giant. Under the revised proposal released Monday as part of a larger House tax bill, about $300 million from Minnesota taxpayers would go toward building public infrastructure to support Mayo’s planned $3.5 billion expansion of its Rochester campus.”