MN health care votes Minnesota Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Jim Oberstar voted in favor of the health care bill, while Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson and Republican Republican Reps. John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Michele Bachmann voted against it. Oberstar joined Peterson and the Republicans in voting to bar all abortion coverage from the bill. The abortion amendment, which passed, provides that people who receive federal insurance subsidies cannot budy insurance plans that include abortion coverage. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Michelle Bachmann
NEWS DAY | MN health care votes and Michele Bachmann’s lei / MN Job Watch / Deer hunting, baiting, eating / Afghan cops, Taliban
NEWS DAY | Unemployment: 10.2% in October / Finding Fort Hood news / MN college funds gone / Don’t ask, don’t tell on MN tax refunds / Pawlenty’s bad idea / Bachmann Tea Party
“]Unemployment: 10.2% in October U.S. unemployment numbers for October rose more than expected, from 9.8% in September to 10.2% in October. Some 35.6% of the unemployed had been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. The total number of officially unemployed, plus discouraged workers, people working part time because they cannot find full time jobs, and those “marginally attached” to the work force – 17.5% in October.
President Obama is expected to sign an extension of unemployment benefits today. Yesterday’s report of the number of new unemployment compensation claims filed showed 512,000 new claims, down slightly from the previous week.
Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell to 7.3% in September, but is expected to rise in October. October figures will be released on November 19.
Finding Fort Hood news Yesterday’s shooting at Fort Hood, which left at least 13 dead, is all over the news today. Over at the Poynter Institute, Al Tompkins has a round-up of news sources, from the U.S. Army Twitter page to the New York Times Twitter list, and a comprehensive summary of what is known about the shooter. As hate groups lined up to denounce this as a Muslim crime, joined by Fox News, the Council on American Islamic Relations condemned the shooting, saying in part, “No religious or political ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence.”
MN college funds gone Minnesota college scholarship funds for the year ran out, and officials dipped into next year’s budgeted funds to keep their promises to this year’s students, reports the Star Tribune. The main reason is greatly increased college enrollment, as displaced workers return to school to upgrade their skills and more high school grads head to college because there are no jobs available. In one dramatic example, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities projected a 1.6% enrollment increase last year, but enrollment actually grew by 8%.
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education has $145.5 million allotted for MN scholarship grants, but will actually spend $158.4 million. Taking the money from next year’s allotment means meeting this year’s commitment, but falling even farther behind next year. Governor Pawlenty’s spokesperson said the governor will not recommend increasing next year’s funding.
Don’t ask, don’t tell on MN tax refunds Minnesota businesses that are owed corporate income tax and sales tax refunds by the state will have to wait a little longer, reports the Star Tribune. The reason: lower-than-predicted tax revenues, due to the recession. The state’s approach: don’t ask, don’t tell:
The state is currently delaying $128 million in corporate tax refunds to 461 companies and $11.9 million in sales tax refunds to about 350 to 400 businesses until late December. However, the Revenue Department is not notifying the firms unless companies specifically request a status update on their tax refunds. (emphasis added)
T-Paw’s not-so-new, not-so-good idea Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed a constitutional amendment Thursday, but critics immediately pointed out major flaws. The Minnesota Independent has a succinct read on it:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty unveiled a proposal on Tuesday to amend the state’s constitution in order to keep a lid on government spending. His plan would cap the size of the state’s general fund budget at the amount of revenue received in the previous two year cycle. But according to figures compiled by the Senate Majority Research office, Pawlenty has never submitted a budget proposal that would have met the fiscal strictures of his proposed amendment.
Not only is the amendment a bad idea in MN, and completely unlikely to pass in the legislature or in a voter referendum, but it is a bad idea that has recently been rejected in other states, according to Minnesota Budget Bites:
Tax and spending limit ballot initiatives were just rejected on Tuesday in both Maine (60 percent opposed it) and Washington (55 percent opposed it). So far, serious efforts to pass similar initiatives have failed in 20 states. …
And it’s unlikely to be popular with Minnesotans. In fact, Minnesota voters have recently demonstrated that they support tax increases when they are needed – note the recent successes just this week of school referenda.
The Minnesota Budget Bites post gives a detailed analysis of what the governor has proposed, what’s wrong with that proposal, and why it doesn’t matter all that much, because the governor “actually plays no role in amending the state’s constitution.”
Bachmann Tea Party vs MN true stories As MN’s Michele Bachmann rallied about 10,000 health care reform opponents in Washington, the AARP announced its support for the House health care bill.
Josh Marshall noted that the mainstream GOP leaders showed up and spoke at the Bachmann-orchestrated event, even though obviously uncomfortable with her tone:
Early this morning The Politico got hold of a Republican Study Committee email asking staffers to send their members to the event but also to avoid words like “rally” and “protest” in favor of “press conference” or “press event”. Clearly, there was an effort to sanitize the event and get away from Bachmann’s high-strung rhetoric about a “last stand” against health care reform. So on the one hand the House Republicans wanted to take over the event. But they also felt the need to get out in front of it, to be in front of the crowd. It was a perfect, real-time illustration of the current struggle within the GOP, with the party establishment trying to harness but also control and not be overrun by the grassroots mobilization on the right.
Among the more outrageous statements: a sign carried by protesters with an enlarged photo of dead bodies at Dachau, comparing health care reform to “National Socialist Health Care.”
For Minnesota stories of the actual impact of lack of health care coverage as the House begins debate on health care reform, see stories of GAMC recipients on the TC Daily Planet and twenty-four stories of people who suffered from lack of coverage collected by Take Action Minnesota.
News Day: Unemployment numbers / Running for governor / White collar fraud / Rondo Days / Twitter hacked (why you should care) / more
I’m back in MN, after a Poynter Institute conference packed with lots of good ideas and good people … and long hours. Next up: the National Civic Summit, which started in Minneapolis yesterday. Mike McIntee of The Uptake and I will be presenting “Citizen Journalism: Your stories, your voices” on Friday at 3 p.m. — join us there at the Minneapolis Hilton!
Latest unemployment figures The Department of Labor reports seasonally adjusted NEW claims for unemployment insurance at 522,000 for the week ending July 11, down 47,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 569,000. New claims in Minnesota were up by 1,176, and MN unemployment for June rose to 8.4 percent, up from 8.1 percent in May. Although new claims are falling, total unemployment remains high.
Mad Michelle Minute Minnesota Independent chronicles the latest Bachmania, reporting that Bachmann offered an amendment to the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act to ban groups facing federal indictment for voter fraud from receiving federal foreclosure relief funds. She proudly explained that “I want to ensure that organizations, such as ACORN, are prohibited from receiving funds while simultaneously facing charges of voter fraud and tax violations.” Only problem with that: ACORN says “The truth is, no criminal charges related to voter registration have ever been brought against ACORN, its leadership, or partner organizations.”
Norm Coleman files Yesterday, Norm Coleman filed his brief before the MN Supreme Court, with “few, if any” surprises, reports Eric Black in MinnPost. Read the brief, which goes on for 62 pages ad nauseam (a legal term, of course), or the Eric Black summary — or just skip the whole lthing because there’s nothing there that you haven’t already heard over the past six months.
News Day: Mad Michelle Minutes / Sun setting for local media chain? / The virus formerly known as swine / more
Mad Michelle Minute Today’s Michelle Bachmann updates: Making hate crimes illegal means protecting pedophiles and not protecting 85-year-old grandmothers and FDR’s “Hoot-Smawley” tariffs turned a recession into the Great Depression. Of course, that’s actually the tariff authored by Republican Senators Smoot and Hawley, and signed by Republican President Herbert Hoover. Thanks to Minnesota Independent and TPM for today’s Michelle Minute.
More bad news in local media David Brauer at Braublog continues to keep us up-to-date on media news, and that’s usually bad news.
• Now the American Community Newspaper newspaper chain, which includes more than 40 local suburban Sun newspapers, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. “No impact on day-to-day operations” is the usual mantra, but nobody believes that.
• Over at the University of St. Thomas, the student newspaper is being killed to make way for TommieMedia.com, “a future one-stop shop for student-produced radio, broadcast and ‘print’ media.”
• Not that they have every been great local news sources, but now the local Clear Channel stations ((KFAN, K102, KOOL 108, KDWB, Cities 97) will get their news feeds from Colorado.
The virus formerly known as swine Now that the first MN case has been confirmed, the MN health commissioner has asked that we all learn to say “H1N1 novel influenza” instead of “swine flu.” Anybody think that’s going to catch on? There’s a good reason – too many people here and around the world are afraid you can get The Disease by eating pork, and that’s killing pork prices. (In Egypt, the government has ordered the slaughter of all pigs – an estimated 300,000 in the country.) For better answers, take a look at Pandemic and panic: Swine flu Q&A.
Medical marijuana The MN Senate passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana – on to the House – and then to T-Paw’s veto.
Schools going down for the count The Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD) has counted the damages from legislative education funding proposals, and the numbers are bad, report the PiPress, the Strib. and . Bottom line: Metro area school districts would have to cut $135.7 million to $222.5 million next year under the House and Senate budgets. That translates to job cuts for 1,200 employees at more than 30 metro districts, with 512 to 854 layoffs targeting teachers.
Scott Croonquist, executive director of AMSD, says “The governor has the best proposal on the table right now, absolutely,” since T-Paw’s plan gives a slight increase in funding in year two of the biennium, albeit targeting that funding to specific schools under Q-Comp.
Minnesota 2020 has surveyed rural schools, and reports grim prospects for cuts there as well.
The districts reported that on average they plan to lay off 4 percent of their faculty, 5 percent of administration and 6.5 percent of non-licensed staff to make ends meet.
MN Job Watch From the U.S. Department of Labor: New unemployment claims for the week ending April 25 stood at 631,000, down from the previous week’s revised figure of 645,000. According to AP, the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits increased to 6.3 million, the highest number since 1967.
• BBC: Watch out, Google! Here comes Wolfram Alpha, which”is like plugging into a vast electronic brain,” according to one expert. “It computes answers – it doesn’t merely look them up in a big database.”
• BBC: Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish targets in northern Iraq, hours after the deaths of 10 Turkish soldiers in two separate attacks that were blamed on the rebels.
• Daily Kos: Fox refused to carry the president’s press conference – and President Obama didn’t call on Fox for a question, though he did call on all the major networks. The Daily Kos says “Amen — there’s no reason to pretend that Fox is anything but a GOP propaganda tool.
• Congress passed a non-binding budget resolution — with no GOP votes.
News Day: Big stink at the MPCA / Lies, mistakes and spreadsheets in St. Paul / “New wave” foreclosures / more
NOT in News Day today News about swine flu, Arlen Specter, the neverending Franken/Coleman saga, or the first 100 days of Barack Obama’s presidency. (Except to note that the ever-in-the-press Michelle Bachmann archly observed that swine flu seems to occur only under Democratic presidents. Only one problem, Eric Black points out: the other recent swine flu scare started under the decidely non-Democratic Gerald Ford in 1976.
Big stink at the MPCA Neighbors repeatedly driven from their homes by the stench from the 1,500-cow Excel Dairy near Thief River Falls are seeking to close it down. State and federal health officials have declared the dairy a public health hazard. Neighbors want the dairy shut down, citing past bad behavior. (This is not a small bunch of tree-huggers — the Marshall County Board also is also on their side.)
News Day: Ellison arrested / Fong Lee inside story / Mpls: From suspended principal to school closings / MN health cuts / more
In good company Rep. Keith Ellison was arrested Monday, along with civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, and others, as they protested at Sudan’s embassy in DC. After indictment of President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in Darfur, Bashir ordered foreign aid workers to leave the country. That cuts a lifeline for embattled Darfur, where the U.N estimates that 300,000 people have been died in the war since 2003, and 2.7 million people are receiving aid after being forced out of their homes. Ellison said:
Today, I join with my Congressional colleagues and advocates from Save Darfur and ENOUGH to demand the Government of Sudan immediately take humanitarian action on the situation in Darfur. …
We implore all countries to demand that the Government of Sudan respect and protect human rights and put an end to the acts of atrocities and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Fong Lee: The inside story Hmong Today has just published a major story on the Fong Lee case, including the family’s point of view as well as a detailed analysis of the evidence released to date. The story describes the police failure to interview eyewitnesses to the chase and shooting, and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department’s failure to investigate a complaint filed with the agency. Editor Wameng Moua notes that, “Despite Chief Dolan’s many references to an article that ran in Hmong Today, our request for an interview in regards to the Fong Lee case has been denied, “’At the request of the City Attorney.’”
The TC Daily Planet reported earlier this month that the chief gave an exclusive interview to the Strib about the legal case arising from the 2006 police shooting of Fong Lee, but did not respond to requests for interviews from the PiPress, which has reported on the family’s side of the ongoing lawsuit. Subsequently, Chief Dolan also gave exclusive interviews to MPR and KSTP.
Rallying support for Cadotte Last night, supporters gathering to protest the suspension of Burroughs principal Tim Cadotte heard that several legislators were demanding action as well:
Sen. Scott Dibble, Patricia Torres Ray, and Ken Kelash — as well as Rep. Frank Hornstein, Jeff Hayden, Paul Thissen and Speaker [Margaret Anderson] Kelliher, calls the quick move to place Cadotte on leave “alarming.” The letter added that Cadotte “must be reinstated to his position as soon as possible.”
MPR also reported receiving an email from Cadotte that read:
“I am overwhelmed at the support I have received. Sometimes you forget that there was a day you helped a first grader zip up their coat, called home for a student that forgot their lunch or double over when a student tells you a joke you have heard a hundred times but somehow it is funny all over again. I have been reminded 10 fold. I want my families to know I say ‘Thank you.'”
Meanwhile, Minneapolis Public Schools continue to move forward with a reorganization plan for 2010-2011 that would include redrawing attendance lines, reducing busing, and closing four schools: Pratt Elementary, Northrop, Longfellow and Folwell. The recommendation will be presented to the school board tonight, with a month of public hearings to follow before school board action. News stories about the plans cite the need to fix a $28 million deficit in the 2009-2010 school year, but it’s not clear how changes for 2010-2011 could do that.
As the district, school board, and community contend with the painful decisions on cuts and equally painful charges and countercharges of racism, currently focused on the Burroughs dispute, School Superintendent Bill Green sent out an op/ed article calling for reconciliation.
MN Job Watch GM cuts in dealerships and staff across the country will hit Minnesota hard:
Scott Lambert is vice president of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association. He estimates that that as many as 50 of Minnesota’s 138 GM dealerships could be closed. And he says some 2,000 jobs in the state could disappear under GM’s plan to close 42 percent of its 6,200 U.S. dealerships by the end of next year.
• The Minnesota Historical Society Press is cutting four of 11 positions and decreasing the number of books it will publish by 30%, due to state budget cuts.
House, Senate slash health funding Both the House and Senate passed omnibus health and human services funding bills, and both slashed funding for health and human services. Session Daily reports:
After more than eight hours of debate, the House passed 85-49 the omnibus health and human services finance bill. HF1362 does not change eligibility requirements for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare, but hospitals, long-term care facilities and those using public dental assistance would all receive reductions.
Sponsored by Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth), the bill includes delayed rebasing for nursing homes; a 3 percent cut to long-term care facilities; a 3 percent reduction to hospitals, including reducing reimbursement rates for those on Medical Assistance and General Assistance Medical Care; and limiting personal care attendant hours to 310 per month per individual.
Senate cuts go even deeper, though not as deep as the cuts demanded by the governor.
Now that’s reassuring!
Bachmann: The energizer bunny Not only does she get around to dozens of talk shows – now Michelle Bachmann, who said she wanted citizens “armed and dangerous” over Barack Obama’s proposed energy tax has been appointed to the House GOP American Energy Solutions Group. And, just in time, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Commiteee has launched “Bachmann Watch,” a website for fact-checking Michelle Bachmann. MnIndy reports that she’s already using the existence of the site as a basis for a new fundraising appeal.
Less help for immigrants Centro Legal closed its doors after 28 years, leaving one less place for MN immigrants to find legal aid. The burden on the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota will increase, and it has committed to taking on many of the people whose cases are still open and who were previously represented by Centro Legal. Federal restrictions severely restrict the ability of most legal aid programs to serve immigrants. Some of Centro Legal’s funders will transfer grants to the Immigrant Law Center of MN, including a United Way grant for work on domestic violence issues.
News Day: Media spotlight on media / Best Buy, worse pay? / Cigarettes, surcharges, furloughs / more
Media spotlight on media From Fox News to the Strib, media is the news this morning.
Not all media are equal in the eyes of the law — or at least not in the eyes of Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan. The TC Daily Planet reports that the chief decided to give an exclusive interview to the Strib about the legal case arising from the 2006 police shooting of Fong Lee, but isn’t answering requests for interviews from the PiPress, which has reported on the family’s side of the ongoing lawsuit. Since then, the chief has also talked to MPR. Guess he doesn’t like the PiPress coverage of inconsistencies in stories about the gun found near Fong Lee’s body or questions about the patrol car video.
And then there’s Fox: the “news” channel sponsored and heavily promoted yesterday’s national tea bag protest day — and then joined the rest of the media in extensive coverage of the events. Sponsorship? Oh, yes — as Media Matters reports, “from April 6 to April 13, Fox News featured at least 20 segments on the “tea party” protests scheduled to take place on April 15 and aired at least 73 in-show and commercial promotions for their April 15 coverage of the events,” which Fox hyped as “the FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” This goes so far beyond the bounds of journalistic ethics that it’s hard to know where to begin.
It’s Friday, almost 10 a.m., and I’m still plowing through news items. Though there is really serious news, including tax policy analysis, today’s crop includes massive silliness — tea baggers, more Michelle, and silliness from Wisconsin. Enjoy!
News Day: T-Paw: No new senator /From snow to fire /When is a Republican not a Republican? /Michelle again, more
No new Senator T-Paw told MSNBC that the Senate race will take “a few more months” until “we get a proper result.” Minnesota Independent reports that Pawlenty said he won’t sign an election certificate until the appellate process is over. The PiPress reports that only 387 ballots remain to be counted Tuesday. Judges originally ordered 400 ballots counted, but it turns out that 13 of those listed have already been counted.