How do we know Congress is back in session? Because Rep. Erik Paulsen is trying to repeal the medical device tax. Brett Neely of MPR reports, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. That’s clearly Erik Paulsen’s approach to undoing the medical device tax that’s part of the Affordable Care Act. Paulsen, a Republican who was sworn in for his fourth term on Tuesday, has made repealing the tax that affects Minnesota companies such as Medtronic one of his top priorities this term. … The latest bill has the support of 257 members of the U.S. House, including all eight members from Minnesota, indicating more than enough votes for passage.”
Please help. The AP’s Brian Bakst says: “Gov. Mark Dayton pleaded Wednesday with Minnesota business leaders to help him build support for a transportation funding plan with real money, not ‘phony solutions.’ Dayton pitched a skittish state Chamber of Commerce on transportation tax hikes that he said will generate the billions needed to deal with congestion, deteriorating infrastructure and planned expansions. The chamber has recommended non-tax alternatives — drawing money from the general treasury or squeezing the existing transportation budget — for covering the funding gap.”
Here’s WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler on that ‘No Session 2016” idea. “Cancelling the 2016 session won’t be easy. The state’s annual budget is about $20 billion, roughly equal to the annual revenues of Minnesota companies like U.S. Bancorp ($19.6 billion) and General Mills ($18 billion). And skeptics say complex modern problems require real-time fixes.”
You can bet these guys won’t take a year off. Abby Simons of the Strib says, “A trio of Minnesota political veterans are teaming up to form a new St. Paul consulting firm specializing in government and public relations. Former Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers, a six-term state representative and gubernatorial candidate; Brian McClung, a former Tim Pawlenty spokesman and Chief of Staff; and Chas Anderson, former Deputy Education Commissioner and House Republican Caucus Chief of Staff, are now partners in MZA+Co, a strategic consulting firm that will serve non-profit, political and trade association clients in state government and public relations both in and out of Minnesota.”
No indictment in a local cop shooting — albeit one that’s a bit different than others in the news lately. At MPR, the story goes, “A Ramsey County grand jury decided Wednesday not to indict officers involved in the death of Yee Vang, killed this summer in a shootout with police. St. Paul Police fired at Vang on Aug. 3 after he shot at officers. Police said he carjacked a vehicle and stole a bike as he was being chased by officers in St. Paul’s North End. According to police, Vang used a gun to force two men in an SUV to drive while he sat in the backseat. When police pulled the SUV over, Vang jumped out and began firing.”
Also at MPR, Tracy Mumford cross-checks some best books of the year lists. “When we look at these lists all together, what do they tell us about the state of literature? We pulled 11 year-end book lists from popular publications and crunched the numbers. What we found: Authors over 50 reign supreme; men still outnumber women; and critics’ unique tastes aren’t as unique as they think. … great minds think alike: Only 111 unique titles made the cut. Many titles appeared on two, three — even six — ‘Best of’ lists. Here are the titles the critics loved most:
• ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters – 6 mentions
• ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ by Marlon James – 4 mentions
• ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr – 4 mentions
• ‘The Bone Clocks’ by David Mitchell – 4 mentions
• ‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawande – 3 mentions
• ‘Euphoria’ by Lily King – 3 mentions
• ‘Lila’ by Marilynne Robinson – 3 mentions
• ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir – 3 mentions.”
Just finished “The Martian.” If they screw up the movie version, someone ought to brought up on charges.
Damn kids. Pat Pheifer of the Strib reports on a high school homecoming prank that got a little out of hand. “Sixteen teenagers are facing court action in connection with a nighttime homecoming prank at Farmington High School that went awry last fall. The prank involved high school seniors ‘kidnapping’ four juniors as part of a ‘war’ on the younger class the night of Sept. 27. Two of the juniors had their hands tied behind their backs and were forced into a car trunk. Two others were put in the back seat. The car was taken on a joy ride, with students in other vehicles tagging along. The car with the abducted juniors was involved in a fender bender in front of the high school after midnight Sept. 28.” They’ll retell that story at the 30-year reunion.
Not exactly smooth spinning for a southwest Minnesota wind farm. Dave Shaffer of the Strib says, “[Wind] has turned into a financial loser for about 360 farmers and other landowners who invested in two small wind farms more than a decade ago near Luverne, Minn., in the windy southwest corner of the state. The companies that collectively own the two Minwind Energy projects filed for reorganization this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota. The owners stand to lose their investment, and the wind farms eventually may have to shut down, according to regulatory filings. … the case is raising questions about whether the small-scale wind farm model still works in an era of ever-larger wind-generating projects.”
You know, those things were kinda chewy. Says Mike Hughlett in the Strib, “After plastic popped up in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets sold in Japan, Cargill Inc. is extending all apologies. That’s because the suspect nuggets were supplied by Cargill’s chicken processing operations in Thailand. McDonald’s is one of Minnetonka-based Cargill’s biggest customers, and the agribusiness giant is one of the fast-food behemoth’s largest suppliers. A customer at a McDonald’s in northern Japan found a piece of plastic about 1 ½ inches long in an order of McNuggets. Bloomberg News reported a second plastic-in-McNuggets incident at a McDonald’s in Tokyo.” Has anyone done a direct comparison of the nutritional value of a “straight” McNugget and a chunk of plastic?