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MNsure website, IBM, gambling expansion all get 'blasted'

MNsureA lot of “blasting” around town yesterday

Says Stribber Jackie Crosby: “Minnesota legislators blasted the troubled MNsure website Thursday and railed against a lack of accountability over its continued woes. In their first opportunity to question leaders of the insurance exchange since it opened for business, the 10 members of the bipartisan MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee grilled agency executives about decisions last year to downgrade the participation of the lead technology contractor, which came to light only in recent days.” MinnPost coverage of the MNsure decisions is here.

In the Wall Street Journal, the headline reads, “Minnesota Governor Blasts IBM For State Health Exchange Troubles.” To which Clint Boulton writes: “Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton blamed IBM Corp. for software problems that have stalled thousands of insurance purchases on the state’s online health exchange. … Michael Krigsman, CEO of IT consultancy Asuret Inc., who reviewed Gov. Dayton’s letter at CIO Journal’s request, said it wasn’t clear whether MNsure’s problems lie with IBM’s software, or the way it was integrated. ‘The fault could be with the system integrator,’ said Mr. Krigsman.” MinnPost's James Nord has the IBM story here.

Finally, under a headline that says, “Gambling critics blast Minnesota lottery’s online expansion plans,” Baird Helgeson of the Strib says: “Gambling opponents stepped up criticism of the Minnesota State Lottery on Thursday, saying an expansion into more online sales could increase addiction and usher in a new generation of gamblers. … The lottery’s expansion comes as a coalition of well-organized and well-financed gambling opponents have successfully beaten back numerous new gambling proposals at the Capitol, from a downtown Minneapolis casino to Las Vegas-style slot machines and other games at horse racing tracks.”

The Department of Education has a beef — which may lead to a blasting — with Concordia University. Mila Koumpilova of the PiPress writes: “Minnesota is telling the overseer of a St. Paul charter school a plan to address serious missteps there falls short. A recent investigation at the Community School of Excellence documented problems in collecting federal meal funds and reporting suspected child abuse. Last month, Concordia University, the school's authorizer, highlighted steps the school is taking to fix the issues — even as it acknowledged some do not seem to go far enough. The state Department of Education told St. Paul-based Concordia this week its response doesn't cut it.”

You can’t help but think how far a nickel increase in the gas tax gets …  Says Dee DePass in the Strib:A proposed 10-cent recycling fee for bottles, cans and other beverage containers would increase Minnesota’s recycling volume by about 107,000 tons of beverage containers annually, or approximately 1.9 billion container units, the state said Thursday in a much-anticipated analysis for the Legislature. It could also create a net new 1,000 jobs in recycling and related industries, the report said. But the deposit-and-recycling system could also cost consumers and beverage firms up to $29 million annually in higher prices.”

There are going to be a lot of eyeballs on the watch for “spiking.” MaryJo Webster at the PiPress says: “Minnesota's largest public pension took a first step toward improving its system for monitoring pension spiking. The Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Board of Trustees voted Thursday to ask the Legislature to require all employers in their system to break out overtime amounts when reporting salaries. This change would make it easier for PERA staff to see if an unusual increase in salary during a person's final years of service is due to excessive overtime — a practice commonly called pension ‘spiking’ — or a promotion or some other change in pay.”

Sort of a master's in gizmos … The AP story says: “The University of Minnesota is recruiting students for a new master's program in medical device innovation. The program is under the Technological Leadership Institute, part of the university's College of Science and Engineering. The new curriculum is aimed at preparing students for managing the challenges of the medical device industry.” They could get the state’s congressional delegation in to lecture on the onerous, ruinous effect of Obamacare taxes.

Not bad at all … A funny/poignant parody of 17 year-old New Zealander Lorde’s hit song “Royals” by local comedienne Molly Dworsky. Daphne Adato of WCCO Radio writes: “Dworsky is a Hopkins native trying to make it big in comedy in Los Angeles. In her new parody video, she sings about not having accomplished much at 26 compared to Lorde, who is still a teenager. … she’s excited to see it get more than 67,000 views now on YouTube.”

Closure of the the Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam seems to be getting more likely by the hour. A Forum News Service story says: “[S]unfish, crappies, walleye, northern, bass and the occasional trout would be at risk if the Asian carp enter the upper Mississippi River watershed and hog the native species’ food. To help stop the invasive species — and protect Minnesota’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry — both houses of Congress have included a provision in their water resources development bills that would likely close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in Minneapolis within one year.  … [Congressman Rick] Nolan said a compromise should be reached early this year, and it will include language that authorizes a closure once the environment and economic effects are assessed.” I say we hire some Second Amendment types to camp out on the river banks and blast them carps.

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Gizmos

“They could get the state’s congressional delegation in to lecture on the onerous, ruinous effect of Obamacare taxes.” Probably not necessary, as the students will surely hear the same story – repeatedly – from executives brought in as "guest lecturers" from Medtronic and other, similar, firms.