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Minnesota’s rates for Obamacare lowest in the country

Minnesota’s insurance exchange rates are … the lowest in the country. Jennifer Brooks of the Strib says: “MNsure, Minnesota’s new online health insurance marketplace, boasts some of the lowest coverage rates of any health exchange in the country, according to a new federal report. Gov. Mark Dayton trumpeted the news Wednesday, happy to have some good news to share about MNsure after several weeks of glitches and errors at the fledgling agency. MNsure is set to begin enrolling its first customers next Tuesday, Oct. 1. … Republican lawmakers were unimpressed by the rate announcement.”

The fight over that Southwest LRT pinch zone is getting hotter. Pat Doyle of the Strib says: “The head of the agency building a light-rail line from Minneapolis to the southwest suburbs on Wednesday rejected calls to explore new ways to reroute freight traffic to make room for it, setting the stage for a showdown over a key feature of the biggest transit project ever in the Twin Cities. The decision by Metropolitan Council Susan Haigh came as metro leaders complained bitterly about the role of the Twin Cities & Western Railroad in the development of a costly and unpopular freight reroute option under consideration by the agency. … Haigh’s decision makes it likely that the leaders will face a choice next week between rerouting freight over two-story berms in St. Louis Park or leaving it in a Minneapolis corridor and sinking the LRT in tunnels nearby.”

But the latest in tunnel talk … is in Richfield. A KSTP-TV story says: “The City of Richfield is looking for light at the end of a new tunnel to the airport. Business and city leaders there are considering a plan to extend 77th Street either over or under Highway 77. The concept of a tunnel has been driving through Richfield for two decades. Tim Carter, co-chair of the Economic Development Committee with the Richfield Chamber of Commerce, says it regained traction when the economy started picking up speed. … The tunnel would connect Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to a portion of southeast Richfield near major highways and Mall of America. The land is currently home to a Motel 6, apartment buildings and offices.”

Talk about stories that are like seasonal rituals … Bill Salisbury of the PiPress says: “It looks like Minnesota and Wisconsin border crossers will have to file income tax returns in both states for at least one more year. Negotiators from the two states remain deadlocked over a new tax reciprocity agreement, and tax officials say Tuesday is the cut-off date to sign a new deal to allow interstate commuters to file one state return for 2014 income taxes payable in 2015. No talks are scheduled before then. ‘Oct. 1 is hard deadline,’ Minnesota Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans said Wednesday. That’s because tax officials would need three months lead time to change tax forms and withholding instructions and give employers time to adjust taxes to be withheld starting Jan. 1.”

Everyone else is in the act, so why not Target? Julio Ojeda-Zapata of the PiPress says: “Do consumers need yet another digital-video service for viewing purchased and rental movies and TV shows on their various electronic devices? Minneapolis-based Target Corp. clearly believes so. This week it debuts Target Ticket, which is going up against well-established digital-video services such as Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Wal-Mart’s Vudu and Apple’s iTunes Store. And while this might seem like a tall order for the discount retailer, some industry observers think Target Ticket has a chance — that it is not too late to the game. … Target claims about 30,000 video titles with prices as low as 99 cents.”

The friend of a friend is still sometimes my enemy … Doug Belden of the PiPress writes: “The Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for Women is criticizing a political action committee set up to support lawmakers who voted to legalize gay marriage, saying its focus is too narrow. By backing legislators who voted for gay marriage, Minnesotans United PAC ‘will be providing funding to several legislators who have a history of voting for anti-choice legislation,’ Minnesota NOW president Sarah Jane Johnston said in a statement Wednesday. ‘Minnesota NOW and the Pro-Choice community as a whole contributed significant resources to the fight for marriage equality here in Minnesota,’ the statement says. ‘We are truly saddened that the Minnesotans United PAC does not have our back when we need them.’ ”

The Strib likes the idea of penalizing the creepy government employee checking (mostly women’s) driver licenses … and not the government. In an editorial, it says:  ‘As the number of cases has grown, this page has called for clarification in federal and state rules to better balance privacy concerns with reasonable damages to avoid huge government payouts. Bottom line: Damage amounts per incident should better reflect the harm done. Any changes should include placing more of the liability on individual offenders, rather than on their government employers. Incidents of illegal data snooping would drop dramatically if the people who broke the law had to pay the penalty. … Government employers should make it clear that improper information tampering can cause termination. And employees who treat government data as if it were something on Facebook should face consequences.” But … but … what if the employee doesn’t have $1 million?

Even The Wall Street Journal has a case of Replacements fever. Eric Danton writes: “Sonia Grover has a response ready when people ask if the Replacements are going to play a hometown show at First Avenue, the Minneapolis rock club she books. ‘I tell them, ‘Your guess is as good as mine,’ Ms. Grover said. … So far, though, those three festival shows are the only ones the Replacements have agreed to play, leaving fans wondering what, if anything, will be next. The musicians aren’t talking to the news media, and Mr. [Paul] Westerberg’s manager, Darren Hill, couldn’t be reached to comment. (Original drummer Chris Mars didn’t participate in the reunion.) Others who know the Replacements, though, suspect there will be more gigs to come. ‘I feel like, yeah, there’s going to be more shows,’ said Peter Jesperson, who managed the Replacements in the ’80s and co-owned Twin/Tone, the Minneapolis record label that released the band’s first three full-length albums. ‘I think they’re going to do more, but it’s hard to say exactly what’s going to happen.’ “

Cigarette sales have taken a dive since that $1.60 tax went into effect … Mark Zdechlik of MPR says: “Cigarette sales in Minnesota have dropped since a $1.60 per pack tax increase took effect July 1, as tobacco sellers have feared. Early Minnesota Department of Revenue numbers show cigarette stamp sales dropped more than 35 percent this July compared to July a year ago. Tobacco stamp sales for August were down 12 percent compared to the same month a year ago. Although sales are down, because of the higher tax, the money the state collects from cigarette taxes has grown, according to the department. … North Dakota Department of Revenue statistics show cigarette sales there were up a little more than 9 percent in August over the same month last year. Minnesota officials predicted that increasing the cigarette tax by roughly 30 percent would lead to a roughly 30 percent reduction in cigarette consumption.”                                                                                    

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/26/2013 - 08:36 am.

    Re: but … what if the employee doesn’t have $1 million?

    Another option would be to take the damages out of the budget of that bureaucrat’s department. Maybe department management would be more diligent in guarding against such activity under threat of unemployment.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/26/2013 - 10:16 am.

      Good point

      It’s too easy to make the low-level creep who pulls the personal data the scapegoat for someone else’s management failure. There should be some accountability for the people in charge of the office.

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