Michele Bachmann’s surprise retirement announcement prompts the New York Times’ Gerry Mullany to review some of the highlights and lowlights of her presidential campaign: “While her presidential bid initially excited Tea Party supporters, Mrs. Bachmann would later find herself upstaged by conservative opponents like Mr. Cain and Mr. Santorum, and she was prone to misstatements, including saying the vaccine against the human papillomavirus was linked to “mental retardation.” But her campaign was not without impact. Her victory in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll in the summer of 2011 forced Tim Pawlenty, the former Republican governor of Minnesota, to drop out of the contest early, after he did poorly in his neighboring state. In her video announcement, Mrs. Bachmann did not rule out returning to politics in the future. … She also said she expected “the mainstream liberal media to put a detrimental spin” on her decision not to seek re-election, calling its attention to her political fortunes “a true compliment of my public service effectiveness.”
“Logistics firms” are crying “foul.” Adam Belz of the Strib writes: “The final version of the tax bill, approved moments before the end of the legislative session last week, included an expansion of the sales tax on a handful of unlucky industries. One of them is warehousing and storage. Firms that repair electronic equipment and industrial machinery and those that sell telecommunications equipment also will be subject to the tax. Logistics companies are baffled, and talking about moving their operations across the St. Croix River. ‘Why wouldn’t I go to Hudson, and just ship across the border’? said Richard Murphy, CEO of Murphy Warehouse in Minneapolis. ‘The surrounding states are going to get business, and you’re going to see people pull back into Chicago, Des Moines and Kansas City.’ … The new taxes will go into effect July 1, except for the warehousing and storage tax, which won’t be in force until April 2014.”
Karen Nyberg is back in space. John Brewer at the PiPress says: “Minnesota native and astronaut Karen Nyberg went aloft Tuesday afternoon for her second mission aboard the International Space Station. Nyberg, of Vining, a small town three hours northwest of the Twin Cities, was joined in the Soyuz rocket by commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano. The group launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and was scheduled to board the space station late Tuesday night. Nyberg, who holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering, said she is bringing along knitting and sketching supplies for her six-month stay.”
In case you haven’t taken a walk in the woods yet … it’s tick season. Boua Xiong’s story for KARE-TV has gotten a lot of mileage: “Dave Neitzel, a state epidemiologist, said while the season was delayed because of our prolonged winter the recent rain and warm up will bring out ticks in the next few days. ‘Unfortunately the damp weather we have had recently makes it easy for the ticks to come out and feed and unfortunately people and their pets will get exposed to them,’ he said. … The latest data from MDH show that from 1986 to 2010 nearly 15,000 cases of tick-borne diseases were reported. The majority of cases were Lyme disease.”
Dan Olson of MPR does a profile of an attorney for refugees, Mark Lee: “Most of Lee’s professional life is spent as an attorney for the Maslon law firm in Minneapolis, where he practices civil business litigation. But once a year for the past 20 he has taken on a political asylum case as a volunteer attorney for Advocates for Human Rights based in Minneapolis. … He described a recent case involving a man from Burundi as typical of the kind of work he takes on: ‘Government forces came to his house, shot into his house, killed members of his family, and he felt that he needed to flee his country for his own safety. He was arrested, thrown in prison in just unbelievable conditions,’ Lee says.”
The GOP is targeting Congressman Collin Peterson on both the IRS flap and Obamacare. Brett Neely of MPR reports: “The National Republican Campaign Committee has put signs on trucks saying that the lawmakers support putting the IRS in charge of health care. … The claim requires a lot of context. Peterson was one of a small group of Democrats to vote against the health care law in the House in 2010 when it was passed. Peterson has subsequently voted against GOP bills that would repeal the law, including a measure almost two weeks ago that passed the House almost entirely along party lines and faces no chance of passage in the Senate. ‘He had an opportunity to represent his district and vote his district and vote for the repeal but chose not to,’ said Minnesota GOP Chair Keith Downey of the recent repeal vote. … Republicans argue the IRS’s role in implementing the health care law should also be questioned, hence inclusion of the IRS in the attack on Peterson.” If Peterson wanted to jab the GOP, he’d need the sides of a coal train.
A pact … with the Canuckistanis? The AP says: “Gov. Mark Dayton has signed a compact that will allow Minnesota and some Canadian provinces to request and provide mutual aid to each other in the event of emergencies. The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says that while states and provinces can handle most emergencies, there are times when disasters require more resources. The compact makes it easier, and in some cases less expensive, to get aid when needed. The compact covers natural disasters from floods and tornados to emergencies such as chemical spills or terrorist events.”
Have you postponed the purchase of a new beach thong? Heather Brown of WCCO TV reports: “Generally, the new warm weather clothes come out from May until the beginning of July. But with the cooler weather, that clothing season is a lot shorter this year. ‘When April came around, and it was still snowing and blizzard-snowing, that was really brutal,’ said Diane Alden, owner of Bombshell on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. … University of St. Thomas retail expert Dave Brennan says the summer clothes retail season has already been shortened from about eight weeks to five weeks. If it continues… ‘If we have rain, if we have cool temperatures, it’ll destroy the apparel season for this year,’ he said.” On the other hand, down-filled swim trunks might start a trend … .
The Strib speaketh on the matter of legislative pay raises … “Minnesota is three years away from a full-throated campaign on the question. It’s too early for the Star Tribune to definitively recommend a yes-or-no vote. But now that 16 years have passed since the Legislature voted to raise its salary, it’s increasingly obvious that this elected body is both politically incapacitated and impeded by conflict of interest when it comes to its own pay. The amendment would hand responsibility for setting legislative pay to a commission — appointed by the governor and chief justice of the Supreme Court — on which no legislator, former legislator, lobbyist or former lobbyist could serve. Appointees would be evenly split between the two largest political parties at the Legislature. The amendment offers no guarantee of a pay raise. The proposed commission would be as free to cut pay as to increase it.” Oh, come on, let the commission handle merit pay on a case-by-case basis.