Democrat Anne Nolan of St. Cloud says her congressional campaign against Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann will focus on many of the same issues that the Occupy Wall Street movement has highlighted.
"How do we get the economy moving again? How do we make it fair for the 99 percent, not just the 1 percent?" said Nolan. "Let's have a financial transactions tax and put a sales tax on speculative transactions on Wall Street and hold accountable the folks who crashed the economy in the first place and raise the resources to rebuild it."
Nolan works for a small business that helps employers develop flexible work schedules for their employees. She ran unsuccessfully three times for the state Legislature. So far she is Bachmann's only DFLer challenger.
In response to Nolan's candidacy Rep. Bachmann sent out a fundraising email soliciting "emergency contributions," to help her defend against what she characterized as her new "Occupy Wall Street" opponent.
Long before it was on the books, Rep. Michele Bachmann positioned herself as one of the most vocal critics of the new federal health care law.
It remains a signature issue for the 6th Congressional District Republican, and earlier this week she found a new flaw in the law: it could allow the government to limit insurance coverage for births.
"Women have a lot to lose under 'Obamacare,'" Bachmann said during a March 6, 2012 interview on a Glenn Beck TV program called Real News From the Blaze. Bachmann claimed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "said that it's important that we have contraceptives because that prevents pregnancy, and pregnancy is more expensive to the federal government."
"Going with that logic, according to our own Health and Human Services secretary, it isn't far-fetched to think that the President of the United States could say 'We need to save health care expenses. The federal government will only pay for one baby to be born in the hospital per family, or two babies to be born per family.'"
Bachmann goes further to say that she does not think President Barack Obama's administration is considering such caps. But her leap in logic is misleading.
The health care law requires that new private health insurance plans cover an array of preventative care. In 2011, the Institutes of Medicine suggested contraception should be included, which most government plans, including Medicaid, already pay for.
Religiously-affiliated employers, including Catholic hospitals and charities, said paying for contraceptives would violate their beliefs. As a result, the Obama administration ultimately decided that insurers, rather than religiously-affiliated employers, would fully cover contraception.
That means a female professor working at a Catholic university will still have access to free contraception, but her employer won't have to pay for it.
It is true Sebelius said that contraception could lower the cost of health care by preventing unintended pregnancies.
"Providing contraception as a critical preventative health benefit for women and their children reduces health care costs," she argued during a House committee hearing on the new contraception rules.
But that's where Bachmann's claim gets off track. To say that the contraception policy is just a step away from a government policy that limits births is far-fetched.
The new health care law does not cap insurance for child birth, nor does it give the Obama administration new authority to do so.
Further, the Obama administration has not indicated it wants to change insurance coverage for child birth.
Bachmann spokeswoman Becky Rogness explained in an e-mail that Bachmann's comments were meant to underscore her concern that Obama has overstepped his authority on the contraception rule.
"There is a fundamental difference between her position, and that of the Obama Administration," Rogness wrote. "That is, no presidential administration should ever be able to mandate who pays for certain services."
Bachmann's statement is carefully worded. She doesn't go so far as to say that the administration is implementing this policy, only that it could.
But the new health care law does not limit how many births are covered by insurance, nor has the administration in any way indicated that it would ever adopt such a policy in the first place.
Bachmann's claim is at best misleading.
The Blaze, Bachmann Warns: Feds Could Use Budget to Limit Number of Babies Born per Family, March 6, 2012
The News House, Sebelius Explains White House's Contraception Compromise, Feb. 10, 2012
Kaiser Family Foundation, Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives, February 21, 2012
YouTube, Sebelius on contraception, March 1, 2012
CNN, Birth control should be fully covered under health plans, report says, by Madison Park, July 19, 2011
Institute of Medicine, Clinical Preventative Services for Women: Closing the Gaps, July 19, 2011
The Kaiser Family Foundation, Summary on New Health Reform Law, accessed March 8, 2012
E-mail exchange, Becky Rogness, spokeswoman, Rep. Michele Bachmann, March 8, 2012
Governor Dayton says he's revising his stadium plan to try to encourage charities to sign on to the use of electronic pull-tabs.
The stadium plan uses revenue from electronic pull-tabs to finance the state's $398 million dollar share of the stadium. Dayton said today that he wants give the state's charities an annual tax break of $10 million because earlier officials with the charitable gambling industry said their costs were so high they were unlikely to use electronic pull-tabs. Dayton said he wanted to respond to their concerns.
"The kind of increase that they're going to have in bottom line profits is very significant," Dayton said. "But one of my axioms in politics is that more is never enough. So you think more satisfies people and you find it just whets their appetite for more."
King Wilson, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, said he was working with the Dayton Administration on the proposal but he had concerns that the tax break wasn't large enough.
"If the number is $10 million, I don't think that gives us the reform and relief we need that will make it work," he said.
Dayton's announcement comes on the same day he's meeting privately with the four legislative leaders to discuss the stadium.
The bill is scheduled to be formally introduced on Monday. Update: You can read the bill here.
Here are some of the documents put forward by Gov. Dayton's office:1 Comments)
WASHINGTON - With the bill authorizing a new bridge over the St. Croix River awaiting President Obama's signature, Michele Bachmann wants a public signing ceremony to celebrate the long-delayed project.
"A signing ceremony would send a strong signal of the bipartisanship on this issue in an often partisan process," said Bachmann in a written statement. The St. Croix River bill is also the biggest piece of legislation Bachmann has helped pass during her three terms in the U.S. House.
According to Bachmann's office, the bill arrived at the White House on March 6th, after passing the House on March 1st and President Obama has until March 17th to sign the legislation into law.
According to UPI, President Obama hasn't held an official bill signing ceremony since early February, when he signed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' last piece of legislation into law. Some Republican lawmakers have grumbled that the relatively few ceremonies Obama has held are an electoral tactic to play down the GOP's legislative accomplishments.
Posted at 5:09 PM on March 9, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Vikings stadium
With Tom Scheck contributing
The Vikings stadium bill is out, and it largely follows an agreement reached last week by the City of Minneapolis, Gov. Mark Dayton and the football team.
The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, calls for the state and city to chip-in $538 million of the $975 million need to build the facility on the Metrodome site. The rest will be covered by the team.
Operating and capital costs will be covered by the city and the team once the stadium is built.
According to the bill, the state will approve appropriations bonds to pay the public share of the stadium. To pay off that debt over 30 years, the state plans to use revenue raised from electronic pull-tab gambling. Appropriations bonds are not backed by the full faith and credit of the state, so they're riskier to investors.
The bill creates a new stadium authority that is on the hook for additional construction costs, but the bill also stipulates that the Vikings can take over construction of the facility if the authority allows it.
The bill also answers a few unresolved questions about the details of the agreement.
For instance, it contains a blanket exemption from the Minneapolis City Charter, which requires voter approval before the city can spend more than $10 million on a professional sports facility.
Further, the bill allows Minneapolis to use extra sales tax funds to renovate the Target Center.
There's also good news in the bill for die-hard Vikings fans: If the team breaks its 30 year lease in the new stadium, Minnesota retains rights to the Vikings name, logo, trophies and memorabilia.
Here are some more details from the bill, by the numbers:
It's a 65,000 seat stadium which could be expandable to 72,000 seats
There are 7,500 club seats (the expensive skybox seats)
The bill requires 2,000 parking spots be within 1 block of the stadium and another 500 spots be with 2 blocks of the stadium.
The stadium will have a fixed or retractable roof.
The stadium authority (which will run the stadium's operations) will sell commemorative bricks. The funds will be used to help pay for the stadium.
The Vikings will have to sign a 30-year lease
If Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf sell the team, a portion of the sale will be given to the state. It starts at 18 percent above the "amount in excess of the purchase price of the NFL team by the selling owner or owners, declining to 15 years" after the stadium is built.
The team will have to sell "affordable tickets," but the legislation doesn't specify what "affordable" means.