Define “commitment.” The AP story on the meeting between the Governor and the CEO of Target to talk about the company’s proposed layoffs says, “Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday he received assurances from Target Corp.’s chief executive that the company will keep a robust corporate presence and its headquarters in Minnesota. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith met privately for 45 minutes with Target CEO Brian Cornell and two other executives at the retail giant’s downtown Minneapolis headquarters. … Dayton said he’s leaving it to the company to reveal how many people will lose their jobs and how fast. ‘It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be painful,’ Dayton said. ‘There is no sugarcoating this for anybody.’” I think we knew that before the meeting.
Stuff you can’t make up. Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib: “A rookie state lawmaker who is a licensed insurance professional was hit with a $10,000 fine after fudging the hours of a continuing education course on ethics that he taught last year. Rep. Robert J. Loonan, R-Shakopee, was also suspended from teaching for three months, according to a Dec. 8 consent order posted on the Minnesota Department of Commerce website. … According to Loonan, the issue was an ethics class he taught in Mankato in February 2014. About 21 people in the class were from the Twin Cities, he said. A blizzard was approaching and roads were bad, so he started the afternoon class early and sped through it with no breaks to get people on their way, he said.”
Rural nursing homes are moving to creative funding. Kyle Potter of the AP says, “Lawmakers and industry groups are moving to replace a decades-old funding mechanism for nursing facilities they say falls far short of the actual cost of caring for seniors. It’s an emotional issue that combines caring for the elderly with a sharper interest on rural Minnesota, where facilities are losing millions of dollars, and politicians are taking notice. All eyes are on Gov. Mark Dayton’s revised budget proposal this week as nursing home administrators hope the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party governor taps a larger-than-expected budget surplus to cover part of the estimated $200 million cost over the next two years.”
Killed by … hay. Brett Boese of the Rochester Post-Bulletin writes, “Hay bales tumbled from a moving semi on Saturday in southeastern Minnesota and slammed into a passing pickup truck, killing the pickup’s passenger and leaving the driver in critical condition. … Dale O. Erickson, 59, of Houston, was driving his pickup northbound when the hay came loose. Erickson was unable to avoid the errant bales, which forced his vehicle into the east ditch, according to the Minnesota State Patrol report. The pickup was soon in flames.”
Doing what the people sent them to St. Paul to do. Kia Farhang of the AP reports, “More than 20 Republican legislators want to stop transgender students born as male from playing on girls sports teams, undoing a state high school league vote that drew fervent support and opposition last year.” Because you know, schools are being overwhelmed by transgender athletes.
In the Strib, Abby Simons writes, “The bill’s sponsors say it’s an issue not only of athlete safety and privacy, but of competitive fairness in girls’ sports. ‘When I was in high school, women’s athletics were just getting started and we have since made tremendous strides. This is something that could potentially be harmful to that, and there is, of course, the privacy issue,’ said co-author Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville. ‘I think all parents in our state would make sure that their children are comfortable and protected in intimate settings, which athletic fields and facilities and locker rooms are. We’re clarifying something I believe a vast majority of Minnesotans would support.’” Emphasis on the word “vast”?
We can agree, right, that profiting would set a dangerous precedent? Tyler Gieseke of the Strib says, “Xcel Energy Inc. said Monday it will write off about $125 million in expected profits from the upgrade of its Monticello nuclear power plant after a regulatory ruling last week. The hit will erase about half the $280 million profit analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect Xcel to produce in the January-to-March quarter. … During the commission’s review, Xcel officials said, despite the higher-than-expected costs, the improvements at the Monticello plant represented a good investment in carbon-free electricity.”
Yeah, it’s a consideration when every company and agency you can think of has been hacked. Marion Renault of the Strib reports, “[Laraine] Kurisko is one in a coalition of Minnesota psychologists and social workers who are challenging a state mandate that, as of January, requires medical professionals to adopt computerized health records that are ‘interoperable,’ that is, tied into a wider state medical database. Going digital, they say, could not only expose sensitive patient information to a data breach, but also erode the patient-therapist trust integral to their work.”
I’ll take anything you’ve got: Pestilence and plague; just no more winter (even a wimpy one like this one). Steve Karnowski of the AP says, “There’s no need to worry yet about the dry conditions in Minnesota turning into a drought this spring and summer, experts said Monday, as a winter that was short on snow relaxes its grip.Nearly all of Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas have been abnormally dry for the past several weeks, and the U.S. Drought Monitor also shows pockets of moderate drought in north-central Minnesota, the Red River Valley and northeastern South Dakota.”
No doubt someone will see a Constitutional issue in here. The AP says, “Citing health concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency now is pressing ahead with regulations to significantly limit the pollution from newly manufactured residential wood heaters. But some of the states with the most wood smoke are refusing to go along, claiming that the EPA’s new rules could leave low-income residents in the cold. Missouri and Michigan already have barred their environmental agencies from enforcing the EPA standards. Similar measures recently passed Virginia’s legislature and are pending in at least three other states, including Minnesota, even though residents in some places say the rules don’t do enough to clear the air.”
Speaking of carbon, Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR writes, “A Minnesota House committee approved a bill Monday that would give the Legislature the final say on any state plan to reduce carbon emissions. Later this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will set carbon reduction targets for each state to help address climate change. State officials will then come up with a plan for meeting those targets, perhaps by reducing the use of coal or deploying more wind and solar energy.”