News Day: Veto forecast / Charter school in trouble / New car rules / more

Even without the legislature in session, the forecast for Minnesota is high winds and lots of heat today.

T-Paw QOTD “The legislators are gone away and they are not coming back.”
Health care, bullying, transportation More end-of-session news: Pawlenty plan is recipe for massive job losses from Workday Minnesota, and Pawlenty talks unallotment, veto plans from Session Daily. Getting down to specifics:

Health care The governor’s cuts come amid a “hellish week for hospitals,” says MnIndy, reporting on staffing cuts across the state in large and small, public and private hospitals. The Strib reports that many people are cutting back on health care, waiting until they are very sick before seeing doctors, leaving prescriptions unfilled, and skipping routine screenings, such as Pap smears.

Transportation In the single bright spot, MN 2020 reports that Minnesota moved forward on transportation in this session.

Elections bill Although the legislature watered down the elections bill, leaving out provisions sought by both DFL and GOP legislators, the governor will still veto it, reports MinnPost. And just as well – moving primaries from September to August would cut lackluster participation even further, and the changes in absentee ballot procedures are no great loss. As this year’s recount shows, a bullheaded partisanship will refuse to recognize any election procedure that doesn’t produce the desired winner in a close count.

Anti-bullying bill An anti-bullying bill including specific mention of GLBT and disabled targets heads to the governor’s desk, reports MnIndy. No word on whether a veto awaits, but the bill faced strong GOP opposition in the legislature.

Medical marijuana While proclaiming, “I have great empathy for the sick,” Governor Pawlenty nonetheless vowed to veto the medical marijuana bill,reports MnIndy.

No jobs lost to smoking ban A new U of M study shows that no hospitality industry jobs were lost in eight cities with smoking bans, reports MPR. Industry representatives counter that some bars closed, and others opened. Which shows — what?

MN Job Watch Minneapolis-based ME Global of Gary-Duluth will lay off 39 of its 103 foundary workers next week, according to AP. The remaining workers will go back to a 40-hour work week, increasing from the current 32-hour week.

A $28 million expansion at the ConAgra Foods plant in Menominie, WI will create 30 jobs, reports the PiPress.

Medtronic will cut 600 jobs in Minnesota and 1800 worldwide, reports the PiPress. Company officials said they will hire 700 people in sales, research and development areas of the company, but most of those jobs are not in MN.

Charter sponsor says no Friends of Education, which sponsors 15 charter schools, said that Cygnus Academy charter school in Anoka is not authorized to expand by adding a ninth grade next year. FOE cited poor test scores in the three-year-old school, and warned that it would revoke sponsorship if those scores do not improve. Other concerns involve financial record-keeping. School officials say FOE is hard to work with and that its achievement should be measured by scores other than those cited by FOE. (More here on Friends of Education and its charter schools.)

World/National News

39 mpg standard President Obama announced new fuel efficiency and tailpipe emission standards Monday, reported the Washington Post:

Hardly any cars on the road in the United States today meet the new standard — 39 miles a gallon for passenger cars and about 30 for light trucks — and virtually all are hybrids. Several small cars are within striking distance, and by averaging hybrids and traditional combustion engines, automakers could meet overall targets even if certain models fall short. …

The fuel-efficiency standards will be applied to different classes of vehicles based on size but will still include broader fleet targets. Every category and size will be required to make improvements. Different manufacturers will end up with different targets, and some high-efficiency vehicles, such as hybrids and electric vehicles, could ease the pressure on other models. But the system is designed to make it harder for automakers to sidestep requirements as they did a decade ago by making more light trucks, which have lower standards than passenger cars.

Automakers said they welcomed the standards, which would replace a patchwork of state regulations. Prices for cars would rise, but President Obama said that fuel savings would pay back drivers within three years of purchase.

No on Guantanamo closing Senate Democrats refused to approve money for closing Guantanamo, giving in to Republican pressure for a plan that would keep all Guantanamo detainees out of U.S. jails. Senate Democrats stripped $80 million in closing funds from a large military spending bill, but Sen. Harry Reid said the closing itself was not in jeopardy and funding could be provided in another bill, according to the NYT.

War Report

Afghanistan NPR reports that assassinations are rising in Afghanistan, particularly in Kandahaur Province. Prime targets include politicians, government employees, activists and Muslim clerics who preach against the Taliban, four of whom have been killed in recent months. Sitara Achakzai, a prominent female politician and women’s rights advocate, was gunned down outside her home on April 12.

Somalia A child was killed and African Union peacekeepers were targeted in overnight shelling in Mogadishu, reports BBC

Pakistan The government offensive in Buner continues, BBC reports. International aid agencies and governments are responding to the crisis situation created by nearly 1.5 million internal refugees, reports the NYT, as the army gears up for the battle for Mingora, the region’s largest city.

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