The Senate has spoken. For the Strib, Erin Golden says, “The Minnesota Senate voted Thursday to send $300 million in state relief to people struggling with surging health insurance bills, but the party-line vote has the Legislature’s Republican majority headed for conflict with Gov. Mark Dayton and DFLers. As many as 123,000 Minnesotans who buy insurance on the state’s individual market but whose income makes them ineligible for subsidies are facing premium increases of 50 percent or more this year. Republicans who took charge of the Legislature last week put a relief package on the fast track, with a rapid series of packed hearings culminating in a lengthy floor debate.”
For MPR, Brian Bakst writes, “Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, a doctor, touted the GOP plan as going beyond a simple fix to start rescuing an ailing insurance system. ‘I don’t think the urgency is to specifically get checks into people’s hands, whether it’s three months, six months or nine months,’ he said. ‘If we don’t elevate the problem to the level of our interest and all we do is throw money at it, that’s just a Band Aid. And that’s not what I’m hearing from my patients.’” Hmm. So repeal and replace?
The AP story says, “Republicans who control the Legislature have advocated for income-based subsidies to offset the 50 percent to 67 percent hikes on the individual market this year. They’re also pushing for broader reforms like allowing for-profit insurers to sell plans in Minnesota.”
The Strib editorial page says, “Republicans also want to make the aid contingent upon income after three months. They also want to link the aid’s passage to other controversial reforms, such as easing access to the Minnesota market for for-profit insurers. This page has made clear that rate relief for consumers should not be held up for other reforms, which should be considered later in the session. But even setting the reforms aside, it’s clear that the political gulf remains regrettably wide over how best to deliver the aid.”
More “youthful indiscretions,” apparently. Josh Verges in the PiPress says, “Jim Carter, the former Green Bay Packer and a finalist for a seat on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, says his ‘bad behavior’ with a team employee in 1976 should not disqualify him for the role. A receptionist sued Carter and the Packers, alleging the linebacker exposed himself to her in her work area, then ‘blocked her exit with athletic shorts at his ankles,’ according to news reports from 1976. She further claimed that the team fired her after she complained about it. At the time, Carter described the incident to reporters as ‘harmless.’ Forty years later, he sees it in a different light.” Do the Russians have any video of this?
I bet you never worried about this before. Dan Kraker at MPR says, “First came the itching — hives so maddening they made Suzanne Keithley-Myers want to claw her flesh. Then came waves of stomach pain so dizzying and disorienting they made her ‘kind of afraid for my life.’ The 45-year-old nurse couldn’t explain her body’s breakdown. She suspected it was tied to ticks that had bitten her during a June mushroom hunting trip in the woods near Aurora, Minn., but this didn’t seem like a typical tick reaction. On a hunch, she Googled ‘meat allergy’ and found something that seemed like a perfect fit — a rare, potentially severe allergy to ‘alpha-gal,’ a sugar found in red meat, triggered by a bite from the lone star tick.”
About those two who were making such a scene that the pilot turned an LA-bound flight around back to Minneapolis? Says Paul Walsh of the Strib, “Blake Fleisig, 35, of Los Angeles, and Anna C. Koosmann, 36, were arrested Dec. 28 by police at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport while still on the Delta airliner. Fleisig was arrested and cited by police for disorderly conduct. Koosmann also was arrested, then cited for disorderly conduct as well as obstructing the legal process. Defense attorney Alex Spiro said Fleisig ‘will not be prosecuted for any offense whatsoever’. … Misdemeanor charges remain against Koosmann.” Really? You’re acting up so badly they turn the plane around and you walk? But four ounces of a liquid in your carry on and there’s a problem.
Here’s a trifecta. Richard Chin of the PiPress reports, “A traffic stop just after midnight in Anoka County revealed a bizarre situation: a woman who said she was in labor, in a stolen van smelling of marijuana and containing a handgun and five young children with packing tape over their mouths, according to police and prosecutors.” Actually it’s more like a SepFecta.
Who doesn’t want a little Xanax in their sunfish? Says MPR’s Dan Gunderson, “Trace levels of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals may be harming fish in Minnesota rivers and lakes, according to a study released Thursday by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Several studies in recent years found a variety of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals in Minnesota waters, ranging from antidepressants to insect repellant.”
Of course, front and center is a sauna. Says Stribber Jenna Ross, “A sauna has popped up outside Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Its steam will signal the start of a yearlong celebration of the 100-year anniversary of Finland’s independence. Like its mascot, a sauna on wheels, ‘Finland 100’ events will travel across the country, with two large festivals in Washington, D.C. But the U.S. celebration starts and ends in Minnesota, land of the Finns. The state boasts the biggest percentage of people with Finnish ancestry in the country.”
It’s earnings reports time from the big banks. Brena Swanson at HousingWire.com writes, “Wells Fargo is viewed as a great read on the pulse of the American economy since 97% of its revenue comes from the U.S, meaning investors will be paying close attention to the bank’s mortgage business, a briefing.com report explains. Wells Fargo is projected to post revenue of $22.304 billion. There are still a lot of factors on the line for Wells Fargo, as FBR Capital Markets & Co. points out. FBR predicts that the stock ‘will remain range-bound until they are able to get more clarity into ongoing regulatory investigations, the recently announced independent audit, and the steps still needed to be taken in order to put the sales practice issue in the rear-view mirror.’”