Legislature yet to sign off on compensation for wrongly imprisoned

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach

For MPR, Brian Bakst has the story of Michael HansenHe’s among the first Minnesotans requesting compensation under a 2014 law that lets people imprisoned for a crime but later exonerated seek payment from the state for their pain and suffering while locked up. A special panel appointed by the chief justice of Minnesota’s Supreme Court has already calculated the awards for Hansen and two others. Lawmakers must now decide whether to pay. If they do pay, they must also find the money since the law did not earmark funds.

Government lobbying government. In the Star Tribune J. Patrick Coolican writes, “The lobbyist of the public imagination is decked out in Gucci shoes and a bespoke suit, arguing on behalf of a corporate behemoth or powerful labor union. But plenty of lobbyists work for slightly less glamorous clients: the cities, counties, school boards, watershed districts and other government entities that spend millions every year lobbying the Legislature. …  As the Legislature gears up to consider a long-term transportation plan and a bonding package that will comprise hundreds of millions of dollars for local projects, every city has a need — and many pay top dollar to argue their case.

Oh, great. This is all we need. Every backwoods creek filled with “prospectors.” The WCCO-TV story says, “Minnesotans looking to strike it rich may not need to look any further than the Iron Range. Last year, the DNR announced the discovery of gold grains and small gold deposits up near Lake Vermillion. But that’s not the only area to find gold in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Gold prospectors say the precious metal can be found throughout the region. There are some who see the rushing water of our region’s creeks and streams as its own natural treasure.” Buy a ticket to Vegas. The odds are better.

Does blaze pink excite your eye? In the Pioneer Press Dave Orrick writes, “ ‘Blaze pink’ would join blaze orange as legal hunter-safety colors under a proposal at the Minnesota Capitol. The color is now legal in Wisconsin for hunting. That drew criticism from people with a certain type of color blindness. Some critics have said they can’t see bright pink, but can see blaze orange. Some Wisconsin lawmakers initially pushed pink as a way to draw more female hunters, an argument that drew criticism from some women who hunt.”

From the Dept. of Cliches, NBC News’ Harriet Baskas tells the rest of the country, “Too bad Spam-filled chocolate Easter eggs aren’t real, because they might have found a receptive audience in a new location. The gag item, announced in 2013 as an April Fool’s Day marketing trick, would likely be a hit at the Spam Museum, reopening next month in Austin, Minnesota. Austin is the home town of the iconic tinned meat producer, Hormel Foods Corp. When its doors open April 22, the expanded museum won’t have the fictional Easter eggs, but it will have other unusual Spam varieties — including teriyaki and macadamia nut — which speak to the history and production of the spiced ham product invented nearly eight decades ago.” What, no mention of lutefisk? Grape salad?

Movement on the “estate claim” clause.  Says John Lundy for the Duluth News Tribune, “The sponsor of legislation to undo estate claims against Minnesotans in their late 50s and early 60s who were channeled to the state’s Medicaid program via MNsure remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ the bill will pass both houses and receive Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature, he said last week. … The News Tribune reported on Feb. 14 about the thousands of dollars the [Rick] Rayburns and two other Pine County couples had discovered in estate claims filed against their properties since being placed on Medical Assistance — the state’s version of Medicaid — via MNsure within the past two years.”

Wisconsin. Still the Florida of the Midwest. From the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram: “A 27-year-old man who reportedly sent threatening packages and emails to a woman has been charged in Barron County Court with two felonies. … According to court records: The woman received packages bearing drug-related references or addresses, such as ‘heroin delivery.’ She told Cooan, whom she worked with in housekeeping at a medical center in Rice Lake, about the mailings and disturbing emails she was receiving.”

Bill Scher at Politico set off Twitter with this story. “Senator Al Franken should be the Democratic Party’s choice for vice president. … Nothing that Franken said decades ago would be remotely as incendiary as the insults Trump spews as a matter of campaign strategy. And Trump’s presence demands new rhetorical weaponry. As Trump himself might say, Franken’s “classy” and “elegant” wit is just what the ticket needs to avoid the kind of brawl that drags everyone down to Trump’s level. Clinton will want to stay above the fray, and Franken can provide the buffer.” Plus, imagine the vice-presidential debate between Franken and Kim Kardashian.

How’s your coverage for shingles? In the Strib, Christopher Snowbeck says, “Mike Ambrose found his Medicare coverage for the shingles vaccine was so skimpy, he couldn’t afford the nearly $200 shot. This winter, after Ambrose suffered through three painful weeks with the illness, he learned that his Medicare health plan covered a much bigger tab — about $1,500 in treatment costs. … Cost has long been cited as a barrier to some Medicare beneficiaries receiving the shingles vaccine, but the problem is drawing fresh attention as awareness of the vaccine grows and wrinkles emerge with insurance coverage.”

Come on, help out. At The Current they’re asking listeners for their list of their/our “10 essential Albums.” “Sure, we deejays and staffers could compile a list ourselves, but that isn’t nearly as much fun as fun involving you and other listeners, readers and members of The Current. … we’re going to broadcast the full countdown of The Current’s 893 Essential Albums according to you during Minnesota Public Radio’s spring member drive this May 5 to 12 … .”  I’ve already listed  “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” by the Tijuana Brass.

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 03/28/2016 - 06:58 am.

    Colorblindness

    I looked around and found some discussion forums where colorblind hunters said they had difficulty seeing both Blaze Pink AND Blaze Orange. The color they said they COULD see was “high visibility yellow”, but we don’t see any legislation requiring THAT color.

    Heaven forbid decisions are made on the basis of actual information . . . . . .

    • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 03/28/2016 - 09:58 am.

      Deer can see blue and yellow

      They can’t see red. This is why blaze orange and pink work for deer hunters. High visibility yellow would likely be just as highly visible to the deer.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 03/28/2016 - 11:26 am.

        Deer hunters

        “This is why blaze orange and pink work for deer hunters.” Yeah – right up until they get shot by a colorblind deer hunter the next tree over.

        Is this about protecting people or about protecting the sport?

  2. Submitted by Richard Callahan on 03/28/2016 - 08:17 am.

    Medicaid Estate Claims

    What’s wrong with asking low income, but high asset, people on Medicaid to reimburse the rest of us from their estate after they die?

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 03/28/2016 - 09:29 am.

      Nothing, nothing at all, as far as I can see.

      There might be one exception, though – if they were erroneously lured into a Medicaid enrollment by MNSure, maybe we should take some pity on them.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 03/28/2016 - 11:29 am.

        Yup

        Some of the folks I’ve seen quoted on this issue have stated that they would have foregone the coverage and paid their own way if they knew this was part of the deal. Of course, if they’re required to be covered (via ACA) and Medicaid is the only choice the system offers, you can see where this leaves them without a good way out.

        • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 03/28/2016 - 01:09 pm.

          It’s also good to remember

          … that these folks are ALREADY DEAD when these provisions of the law take effect, but they would PREFER to leave their estate to their kids or other heirs, rather than repay the citizens for their support.

          Some people tried to get around this by transferring their estate in advance of their death so that there would be nothing to “claw back” to recover public assistance granted. So as I recall, these transfers are researched going back some several years to find assets hidden by this maneuver, and claw back from the recipients of those assets given during that window of time.

          These provisions of the law have not been kept a secret.

    • Submitted by T J Simplot on 03/28/2016 - 12:55 pm.

      This is exactly why they will not be able to get a federal waiver. Without an asset test and no lien, it would be very easy for a wealthy person to apply for Medicaid and get free health care for life even though they would have had significant assets that could have gone towards paying for their health care.

  3. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 03/28/2016 - 09:32 am.

    Local government lobbyists

    I don’t understand either why local government lobbyists are at all legal or why taxpayers must fund them. The League of Minnesota Cities is supposed to be an “insurance trust”. How does this entity, which is completely unregulated and outside of any government, get to represent the interests of local government and their taxpayers? Who with this entity decides what is in the interests of the citizens who elected these local governments? Who sets its lobbying agenda?

    Plus, this from the linked article:

    “Because legislators must be generalists, local government lobbyists can provide specialized expertise on complex topics like water quality standards for wastewater treatment plants or the formula for local government aid, . . . ”

    So the League Minnesota Cities with its 4 full time and 2 part time lobbyists can provide more expertise than the legislature even with its paid staff?

    Rep. Steve Drazkowski says: “Sometimes I wish we could outlaw them (local government lobbyists. He’s the guy in office with the majority party. What is he waiting for? How about a legislative investigation and report of these local government lobbying operations?

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