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Judge rules against credit-card swipe fee

NPR says many in state shocked by gay marriage; Bee Lab busy repopulating cultures; legislators miffed at law enforcement group; Sen. Ortman likely to take on Franken; Kluwe’s mayoral endorsement; and more.

I know you’re as shocked as I am … Jim Spencer of the Strib reports: “A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the U.S. Federal Reserve Board allowed banks and credit card companies to charge ‘inappropriately’ inflated fees for using debit cards in retail transactions. The ruling was a major victory for retailers, food sellers, convenience stores and gas stations … Judge Richard J. Leon said the Fed set swipe fees that yielded ‘billions of dollars’ more than Congress intended when it passed legislation to control those fees in 2010 as part of Wall Street reform. … Ron Velander operates two service stations in Minnetonka. At one of those stations, debit and credit card fees more than doubled over the past 12 years. The fees go up with the price of gas or other items as well as with new taxes on items such as tobacco. So banks and credit card companies have profit margins built in regardless of their processing costs, said Velander, who also serves as president of the Minnesota Service Station Association.”

NPR’s story on gay marriage night/day in Minnesota, by Alan Greenblatt, says: “[M]any people in the state are still shocked by the whole idea. When a gay marriage ban was on the ballot last fall, only a dozen among Minnesota’s 87 counties opposed it. Most rural counties supported the idea of banning gay marriage by margins of 3-to-2, or even 3-to-1. They were outvoted statewide by the urban centers. … Some parts of the state aren’t ready for it. ‘Away from the cities, you’re going to see a lot of legislators voted out,’ says Dean Walters, a teacher in Owatonna. ‘People in rural areas are unhappy.’ … Like a lot of people, Dean Walters is worried that the break from the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman could set a terrible precedent. He argues that there are ‘high-priced lawyers in the cities’ who will be willing to make the argument for any odd arrangement, including polygamy. ‘I can say, ‘I want to marry a cow, I’m a Hindu,‘ he says. ‘People laugh when you say that, but 20 years ago, no one was saying same-sex marriage could happen.’ ” It could have been worse. He could have said, “turtles.”

Do your part to repopulate the bee culture. A piece by Steve Hoffman in the Strib says: “One offshoot of [Marla Spivak’s] Bee Lab is a small group of students and ex-students who call themselves the Bee Squad. Their mission is to give hands-on training to beekeepers, but also to establish new colonies around the Twin Cities through a program called ‘Hive to Bottle.’  What that means is that, in a world full of amorphous and unsettling crises over which you have no control, here is one little opportunity to take direct action. You can buy a hive of bees from the Bee Squad, and they will not only deliver them to your residence, but they will look after your bees for you or teach you how to look after them yourself, and after the first year, when the colony is full-sized and well established, they will help you harvest your own back-yard honey.”

Tim Pugmire of MPR tells the story of miffed legislators who want more info from the Law Enforcement Association: “State lawmakers are criticizing the Minnesota Law Enforcement Association (MLEA) for refusing to provide financial data to the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) for a study of union fair-share fees. … James Michels, a lawyer representing the MLEA, contends Nobles’ inquiry into how unions spend their money is inappropriate and exceeds his statutory authority. … Michels explained the argument in a letter to Nobles. In it, he also questioned the motives of an unnamed legislator who requested the evaluation. ‘His history of anti-employee and anti-union rhetoric and proposed legislation is well documented and raises grave concerns among the members of the MLEA,’ Michels wrote. Michels later said he was referring to Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa.” Aka “The Draz.”

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The AP adds on to a Duluth News Tribune story about the eviction notice for a bona fide piece of Minnesota history: “Wind, rain and passing years couldn’t knock down a wooden fish house built on Beaver Bay a century ago by Norwegian fishermen, but the end may be near. The nonprofit Beaver Bay Club, which owns the land on which the house sits, has begun eviction proceedings against the owners in a complaint that seeks immediate removal … Bonnie Anderson, who owns the fish house with her husband, Bruce, says they haven’t paid to lease the land and there has never been a lease agreement to do so. Permission has always been implied, she said.”

Janet Moore of the Strib detects “bullish” attitudes among investors toward commercial real estate in the Twin Cities: “Investors appear to be increasingly bullish on the Twin Cities commercial real estate market, whether they’re buying or building apartments, power retail centers or modern industrial properties, according to a report released Wednesday by Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq. The Bloomington-based real estate firm found that ‘investment capital remains abundant’ locally and nationally from many sources, including lenders, institutional and private investors, and real estate investment trusts. The rosy outlook (for the most part) will continue in the second half of the year, as well.”

The GleanIt could be a three-way race among the GOP for Al Franken’s job. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib says: “State Sen. Julianne Ortman, who has prepared for months for a U.S. Senate run, is expected to take the leap on Saturday. She would be the third Republican with announced plans to vie to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken. Former Lazard executive Mike McFadden and state Rep. Jim Abeler have been in the race all summer. So far, the Franken challengers have left national prognosicators underwhelmed. Franken has a national reputation and polling numbers that show him in decent standing with Minnesotans.”

Two top execs with Teach for America defend their organization in a Strib commentary: “This Friday, the Minnesota Board of Teaching faces the critical decision of whether to empower principals to hire the educators they believe will meet the needs of students in their schools. … Our teacher preparation is based on the idea that teaching is a skill that develops through hands-on experience and mentorship. We start with pre-service summer training, and then invest heavily over two years in ongoing coaching and support, along with a licensure program at Hamline University designed for teachers working in the classroom.” Do we have a definition of “heavily”?

Ex-Viking punter/opinionator Chris Kluwe has weighed in on the Minneapolis mayor’s race, supporting Betsy Hodges. On her website, she trumpets Kluwe’s endorsement, which reads: “The Minneapolis I will miss is a city of a growing nightlife, vibrant neighborhoods, and awesome, friendly people. It is a city that turned out in droves to defeat two divisive amendments and one that is celebrating the first days of marriage equality. … To eliminate the disparities that threaten our city, we need leaders who are unafraid to take on tough fights. I know Betsy Hodges is the fighter Minneapolis needs. She has won tough fights, and she will lead Minneapolis as it faces new ones, and that is why I support Betsy Hodges for Mayor of Minneapolis.” So I wonder who he’s backing in Oakland?