Cruz and Sanders win Wisconsin primaries

REUTERS/Chris Keane
Sen. Bernie Sanders

For the AP, Chad Day and Emily Swanson report, “In Wisconsin, Democrats went with the candidate who excited them the most, and Republicans chose the candidate who wasn’t Donald Trump. As Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the state’s GOP primary, exit polls show his victory appeared to be driven more by fear of Trump than excitement about Cruz. In fact, a majority of Wisconsin Republican voters say they’re either concerned or scared of a potential Trump presidency. On the Democratic side, voters chose Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who they saw as the more exciting, inspiring and honest candidate, according to early results of exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.”

In the Star Tribune, Mary Lynn Smith says, “As a teenager, Kirk Washington Jr. expressed himself through graffiti. Later, he turned to the written word, seeking and often finding a way to bring north Minneapolis and the rest of his community together to talk about issues sometimes swept under the rug — racism, housing inequities, police brutality, politics. … On Monday evening, Washington’s voice was silenced when he was killed in a rush-hour car crash on Interstate 94 near Hwy. 280. He was 41.”

Brian Bakst at MPR reports, “The annual who’s who of Minnesota lobbying spending has some familiar names at the top for 2015. Business groups and the state teachers union are again among the biggest spenders on lobbying campaigns for a period covering the Legislature’s budget session a year ago, according to data published by the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. The spending also reflects lobbying of metropolitan governments and state agencies. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies on a range of business regulations and tax issues, led the way with nearly $2.2 million in spending. Next up was the Minnesota Business Partnership, a consortium of major corporation leaders, that devoted $1.2 million in lobbying. Education Minnesota was third at $980,000.”

A KSTP-TV story by Josh Rosenthal says, “A Wisconsin woman said a mix-up in the morgue lead to her husband being cremated against his family’s wishes. As a result, the family is suing Mayo Clinic and a Rochester funeral home. ‘I hope that this doesn’t ever happen to anybody again,’ Jennifer Huber said Monday from inside the offices of Bennerotte & Associates in Eagan.”

A Forum News Service story says, “Minnesota cities need more state money to help prepare for the loss of ash trees, nursery and tree organizations say. Legislation by Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, would provide $13 million to fight the emerald ash borer’s advance into a dozen Minnesota counties. It was first detected in Duluth last year. Under the bill, the money would be available as matching grants for projects such as removing infested trees, or treating trees at risk with insecticide to fight the ash borer.”

In a Strib commentary, Urban League President Steve Belton says, “I am among those who believe there are significant and obvious flaws in the county attorney’s analysis of the evidence and law. … But, while the text was unpersuasive, the subtext was quite clear. Whether intentional or unintentional, Freeman’s narrative was peppered with gratuitous coded language designed or defaulted to dehumanize Clark — and by extension, African-American men, in general — and provides subliminal justification for his killing.”

Says the AP, “In an attempt to address a string of assaults against teachers in Minnesota, state lawmakers took up another bill Tuesday that would give teachers more control in their classrooms. Education chairwoman Rep. Jenifer Loon’s measure would clarify a teacher’s authority to remove students from their classroom, establish a fund to help pay for medical costs after an incident and notify teachers when students with violent histories are placed in their classrooms.”

Dee DePass of the Strib says, “Essar Steel Minnesota has reneged on another promise to the state of Minnesota, this time failing to make a $10 million payment that was due late last week. The company, building an Iron Range taconite operation, made a deal with Gov. Mark Dayton in December to pay back the $66 million in economic incentives it had received for its Nashwauk project because it failed to meet several of the project deadlines … . The first payment of $10 million was due on March 31.”

Another AP story says, “Fairview Health Services said Tuesday it will acquire the UCare health plan, which had been struggling since losing contracts with the state to cover low-income people enrolled in the MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance programs. Under the agreement, UCare will become a subsidiary of Fairview … .”

In a Strib piece, Kristen Leigh-Painter says, “Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts is now involved in the makeover of the Nicollet Hotel Block in downtown Minneapolis, local developers said Tuesday. The Canadian company, one of the biggest brands in luxury hotels, has been advising the development team on design of the 35-story tower, with 300 hotel rooms and 164 residences, for the last three months.”

Also, Eric Roper of the Strib says, “The $50 million overhaul of Nicollet Mall appears to be back on track after Minneapolis secured five bids Tuesday to reconstruct the pedestrian corridor. The project suffered a hiccup in December when only one firm submitted an offer, which was $24 million over budget.”

Brian Bakst at MPR writes, “At first, Kristi Anderson needed answers about how her son, a University of Minnesota college freshman, wound up on the riverbank near campus where he died after last being seen at a campus-area party. She thought his smart phone would provide some answers. Denied data from Jake’s phone after his 2013 death in below-zero temperatures was ruled accidental, Anderson still craved the pictures, writings and other files on his phone and a fingerprint-protected computer that would be mementos of his last days. … The Andersons, from Orono, are appealing to Minnesota lawmakers to pass a law defining and governing digital access. The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed legislation Tuesday doing just that.”

In a Strib column, Jon Tevlin says, “Like a lot of small towns across the state, tiny Remer continually looks for ways to draw people to its community of 370 residents, midway between the upscale resorts of Brainerd Lakes and the fishing spots on Leech Lake. The town is just off the tourist trail that brings in seasonal cash for the local main street, so they need something to get noticed. This weekend, they are putting modest hopes on something that is big, hairy and apparently smells pretty awful: Bigfoot. Remer will hold its first annual Bigfoot celebration this Saturday to honor the legendary creature who appeared in a fuzzy photo that was taken nearby and published worldwide in 2009. The festivities will begin with a talk by the head of Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team. There will be scavenger hunts, a Bigfoot calling demonstration and a screening of ‘Harry and the Hendersons.’”

At MPR. Tim Pugmire reports, “Republicans in the Minnesota House are pushing again for tax cuts with a renewed focus this session on phasing out the state tax on Social Security income. GOP leaders say the move is needed to keep retirees from leaving the state, although Senate Democrats and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton warn that the loss of revenue from such a large cut would damage future state budgets.”

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 04/06/2016 - 08:23 am.

    Violent histories

    I do wonder what the definition of a “violent history” includes. You could say a student who throws loud dramatic temper tantrums has a “violent history”, but that would certainly not be in the same league as one who has pounded a teacher’s head against a wall. This provision – if mishandled – has the potential to be a convenient umbrella to stigmatize any student deemed to be inconvenient or problematic.

    And continuing with this same concern (How is it defined? How is it communicated?), although the idea might sound attractive at first glance, attaching this label to a student is bound to predetermine how a teacher views and interacts with that student in a class setting. So while I understand a teacher’s desire to be “forewarned”, I also think the conditions under which the label would be applied needs to be considered very carefully.

  2. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/06/2016 - 07:29 am.

    GOP And SS Retirement

    Does the House GOP have any empirical evidence that retirees are leaving the state because of the tax on benefits?

    Why do they want to raise the tax burden on families like mine, that are working hard to raise another generation of tax payers?

    For current retirees, a good deal of their earned income from their working careers was taxed at 4% for Social Security. For nearly all of us currently in the workforce, we’ve been paying 6.2%. Further, most of us now pay on 100% of our income (since income up to $110K is subject to the tax), while some current retirees enjoyed an effective increase in their pay due to having met the (then) lower cap before the end of the year.

    • Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 04/06/2016 - 11:41 am.

      Social Security taxable cap?

      @Frank wrote: “[S]ome current retirees enjoyed an effective increase in their pay due to having met the (then) lower cap before the end of the year.”

      I’m not sure where you’re getting your numbers but, no, present-day retirees’ earned incomes were also taxed at 100% during their working years if the incomes fell below the allowable taxable-maximum cap. A great majority of those incomes were below the cap, just as most wage earner’s incomes today are below $110k.

      Compare today’s average wage and taxable-maximum cap with previous years:

      Year Avg. wage Taxable-max cap
      2014 …… $46,500 …… $110,000
      2001 …… $33,000 …… $ 80,400
      1991 …… $22,000 …… $ 53,400
      1981 …… $13,700 …… $ 29,700
      1971 …… $ 6,500 …… $ 9,000
      1965 …… $ 4,700 …… $ 6,600
      1951 …,,, $ 2,800 …… $ 3,600

      Source: Social Security Administration [https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/policybriefs/pb2011-02.html]

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/06/2016 - 12:31 pm.

        Not So Fast

        From what I can tell, the data for average yearly wage includes part-time and full-time workers. Of course part-time workers would be below the cap. Secondly, the part-time/full-time divide shows the pitfalls of relying on “average” for a snap shot. My young daughter and Michael Jordan average 5′ 0″; but neither is close to that.

        My old man, who was blue collar all his life, was done paying FICA by the end of October for most of his working life. I believe that ended around the time Ronald Reagan (the “Tax-Cutter”) increased FICA taxes in 1982. Further, when I entered the building trades in mid 80’s, of the fellas who I worked with who were then about 40 or over also spoke about have reached the cap sometime in the fall. This was common for decent paying middle class jobs, and those are the retirees we’re talking about here.

        The economy is producing more wealth, but it’s not being shared as well as it once was, and FICA taxes are higher on stagnant incomes.

        I’m really surprised the GOP has it in for today’s working families.

  3. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 04/06/2016 - 07:52 am.

    A living legend?

    Remer plans to create Big foot Festival to promote tourism?

    Does anybody know Trump’s shoe size?

    Talk about an appropriate shoe-in. Either/or…foot to mouth, or mouth to foot? Could say, one defines the other?

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/06/2016 - 08:09 am.

    I’m Somone Who Receives Social Security Payments

    and I’m certainly NOT wealthy,…

    but I still don’t want the income taxes I pay on my Social Security cut.

    As a Senior Citizen, I and my fellow seniors are among the highest users of state and local government services.

    I value living in a state as civilized as Minnesota and regard the taxes I pay as my own contribution to the civilization and services I enjoy.

    I have voted in every election since I turned eighteen (a long time ago).

    My Republican representatives are NOT going to win my vote by seeking to starve of resources the government upon which I depend,…

    an on which I am likely to depend more as I age.

    As we watch what the Republicans are seeking to do in the legislature,…

    consistently trying to put the state back in the position we were in under Gov. Pawlenty,…

    where consistent underfunding allowed Pawlenty to demand cuts in many of the services on which those of lesser means depend,…

    we Senior Citizens, especially in rural areas,…

    had blessedly well remember that far too many of us, as we age,…

    move more and more into the group to whose services our Republican friends want to be able to cut to the bone,…

    or wipe out completely.

    If you resent your tax dollars going to help “those kinds of people,”…

    it’s very important to remember that, the older you get,…

    the more you become in the eyes of our Republican legislators,…

    one of “those kinds of people,” yourself,…

    i.e. people who need,…

    legitimately deserve,…

    (and have contributed throughout your working life to help pay for),…

    government services.

  5. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 04/06/2016 - 08:57 am.

    Sorry to say I new neither the poet nor the poem, but…

    Death of a poet, Kirk Washington

    This is a time for poets to bloom…not die? One can only ask why?

    My sympathy to those who knew him best.

    Can only add a line or two from a fellow student’s-unpublished poem – I suppose – and from a long time ago, coming from the fifties…

    “After the thoughts have been thought,
    after the sentence has been formed, and
    the word has been spoken,
    what will be the ethic for man?” PJ Jensen

    There is a similarity between now and then, the fifties…a certain disconnect and apathy and denial in the cultural and the political…but a few voices do rise and a good time to stop; be still and listen to the voice of the poet…

  6. Submitted by Norm Champ on 04/06/2016 - 11:23 am.

    Emerald Ash Boar

    We seriously need to start reacting to EAB before we repeat the history our state had with Dutch Elm Disease. Experts started to alert folks about DED decades before the State finally acted in the early 70’s (and it took the Elms being removed in the front of the Capital to bring attention to the plight of the Elms). EAB has swept west from Michigan, destroying all untreated Ash in its path. We must react NOW to slow it down and plant replacement trees to fill n the tree canopy.

    The big difference between the Elm disaster and the Ash threat is the make up of the tree specious: Elm will die and stand dead for many years (have you ever tried to split Elm? It is very fibrous – even dead – it just doesn’t split); Ash is the opposite. It pops when it meets an axe. Think of ash baseball bats – broken every game. The long winded point is when Ash die they are very brittle, and when a wind storm comes they will snap; falling on your car, house, power line.

    We can pay now, or pay a lot more latter.

    We already saw this story just 40 years ago. Why can’t we learn?

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