Shutdown: Should the state look the other way? (5×8 – 7/6/11)

Regulating Minnesota, outrage of the day, the future of Cirrus, Tsunami boosts dry casks, the dust that ate Phoenix and the Coon Lake water spout.


1) REGULATING MINNESOTA

This AP story accurately captures the frustration of the Minnesota government shutdown. Republican lawmakers, their leader suggested, are so ticked off that there is a government shutdown, that they are less willing to bend to help end it.

“They’re very angry and frustrated,” said Rep. Matt Dean, the second-ranking House Republican. “So I think it’s more difficult today than it was last week.”

Many of the problems facing people, the story suggests, aren’t so much about money as they are about licensing and oversight of regulations. A private eating-disorder clinic can’t open another clinic because there isn’t a state worker to inspect it. Hospitals can’t hire because they can’t get the state-required background checks of potential new employees. New cops can’t work because they need a license to be cops.

That’s the same situation at Canterbury Park racetrack. The horses are willing to race, so are the jockeys, but it’s a regulated activity. We got an e-mail yesterday from a man in Illinois who canceled his vacation to Minnesota because he doesn’t have a fishing license and can’t get one.

Unwittingly, perhaps, the shutdown is focusing attention on one of the issues in the Republican wheelhouse: regulations. Should horses, cops, hospitals, fishermen, and private eating disorder clinics be regulated during the shutdown?

Before you answer, consider this: If the shutdown extends to at least the end of this month, drivers whose tabs expire in July theoretically would have to take the car off the road unless the state decides not to enforce that which it regulates. Next month, the Minnesota State Fair would likely have no state food inspectors, who are assigned from the Minnesota Department of Health.

There are 300 food vendors at the Fair. With a shutdown, should they close down, too? Or should the state allow people to take their chances?

Of course, the shutdown is about the money and the impact of it is starting to trickle down from the state’s lofty perch. Washington County yesterday issued 30-day notices that it intends to cancel its contract with non-profits, including HSI, which provides several core services.

The county’s news release says:


Due to the current state government interruption, the Washington County Board of Commissioners took action to give notice to local nonprofit service providers that its contract with them may need to be cancelled, should the shutdown continue.

The County Board gave its approval to the notices as its meeting July 5.

The county has not received any assurance that the state grants currently provided to the county for these services will continue to be paid. The services are primarily funded by the state. The Community Services Department recommended that the following services purchased through a contract should stop. Should the state government shutdown end, or the county receives assurances that the money spent by the county will be reimbursed after the shutdown, the county will rescind the contract cancellation notices. These services are not deemed by the department to be essential to the life, safety, and well being of residents.

The required 30-day notice of contract cancellation will be sent to following entities:

East Suburban Resources (Dislocated Worker Program);

Family Support Grant recipients (state cash grant to families with a developmentally disabled member);

Human Services, Inc. (HSI) (Community Support Program, Basic Living Skills Program, Outreach Activities, Consumer Mentor Program, Social Recreational Services, Therapeutic Support Program, In-Home Services).

Critical safety net services provided by HSI and other vendors were recommended to continue without notice of cancellation due to the level of vulnerability of the clients. These services will be subject to ongoing review and consideration as the state government shutdown continues.

County Commissioner Lisa Weik was the only vote against the cuts, including Family Support Services, which pays families $240 each month for in-home care for a disabled member.

2) OUTRAGE OF THE DAY

someecards.com - I can't wait to express outrage over the Casey Anthony trial I just started following two hours ago

(H/T: Jason Derusha)

3) THE FUTURE OF CIRRUS

Is Cirrus still a Minnesota success story if it’s now a Chinese company? The sale of the Duluth-based airplane manufacturer to a firm in China was finalized in late June, the company announced on Monday. In an interview with the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, CEO Brent Wouters said the merger erases all of Cirrus’ debt. He says the company is making commitments to Duluth and Grand Forks to continue operations there, but says there may be a time when Cirrus aircraft are made in China, but not for planes that are sold in the U.S.

He also offered an interesting assessment of the difference between U.S. and China investors. China, he said, is interested in the long-term. U.S. investors are only interested in the short term and don’t have the patience.

Is it an American company or a Chinese company? If it’s the latter, the Air Force just bought a bunch of planes from the Chinese.

4) TSUNAMI BOOSTS DRY CASKS

The nuclear industry is starting to turn to “dry cask” storage of nuclear waste, the New York Times reports. Starting? Dry casks have been the preferred storage method at the Prairie Island power plant near Red Wing for decades. The original idea was it would be a temporary solution until the federal government creates a nuclear waste disposal area somewhere. It’s becoming clear, though, the nuke waste will never leave Minnesota.

The tsunami in Japan and resulting nuclear disaster has solidified dry cask storage as the new preferred nuke waste storage method, the Times says.

5) THE DUST THAT ATE PHOENIX

But it’s a dry dust

Bonus: Here’s a pretty good video of a water spout/tornado on Coon Lake yesterday afternoon…

TODAY’S QUESTION

Former Gov. Arne Carlson and former Vice President Walter Mondale have established a blue-ribbon panel to help resolve the state government shutdown. Today’s Question: What do you think of the Mondale-Carlson effort to end the state government shutdown?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The recession started in 2007 when the housing bubble burst. Bad mortgages led to the banking crisis and then to Wall Street. Why has so little attention been paid to going after the leading figures in the financial industry?

Second hour: Academy award-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Dr. Jon Hallberg.

Second hour: From the Aspen Ideas Festival: David Rohde, the New York Times reporter who was captured by the Taliban.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The week in politics with NPR political editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: The state of teen fiction. Self-mutilation. Murder. Incest. Sadistic pranks. Chances are that book your kid has his nose buried in is pretty bleak.

  • John O.

    #1 On the subject of expired license tabs, the locals might cut you some slack, but I can assure you that law enforcement in other states will not.

    Years ago, I went to Wisconsin with expired tabs and was stopped for it. I had the new ones in the car (it was January) and the officer was pleasant enough about it, but that still earned me a chewing out.

    Yes Rep. Dean, you are so frustrated that you get to go on national television. I expect more of the same from you and yours in the coming days.

  • http://www.twitter.com/#!/mblackmn Matt B

    For #1, Jason DeRusha posted a picture yesterday on his twitter feed that he was able to renew his tabs yesterday.

    Hennepin County also has posted on their website “Since state IT systems for car and driver’s licenses and birth and death certificates were ruled as core state functions and will now be available, all Hennepin’s Service Centers will remain open for now.” http://www.hennepin.us/portal/site/HennepinUS/menuitem.b1ab75471750e40fa01dfb47ccf06498/?vgnextoid=270e242e104b0310VgnVCM2000000a124689RCRD

    For #3, I think it says a lot about the current American culture, and possibly more about my generation (under 30) than any statement I’ve seen in a while. The rush to get everything now without waiting or putting the work into it is doing more to harm our long term potential than quite a few things. Too often I see people around me complain when they don’t have the nicest thing or the newest gadget right way. It’s unsettling how disinterested we are in long term planning and development.

  • vjacobsen

    Regarding tabs:

    I am pretty sure simple tab renewals are still going on. The Richfield website says, right at the top:

    Despite the State Shutdown, Richfield’s Motor Vehicle Licensing office is still able to provide motor vehicle transactions and passport applications

  • Jett S

    The super rich and corporations are holding the entire state of Minnesota hostage, and their lackeys in the legislature are doing the dirty work, bowing and scraping to the super rich all the while.

    Is there not one wealthy person in Minnesota willing to pay their fair share? Is there not one wealthy person with compassion, not one who is concerned about the common good?

  • Talon

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems you are implying that regulation is a bad thing that slows down the mechanism of the state. And it is easy to understand your feelings during a time when so many things are shut down because one or two people can’t inspect them. But you are missing the broader picture. Regulations keep business transactions above board, keep nurses from abusing patients-and vice-versa, keep e coli out of our food, keep pollutants out of our atmosphere, and guns only in the hands of people sane enough to use them. Rules don’t exist just to make you unhappy, they exist because they keep you safe. Grow up and accept it.

  • JackU

    The legislature was so quick to roll out constitutional amendments this year they should have added one to the list. The text could be as follows:

    In the event that the Legislature and the Governor fail to agree on a budget by the appointed deadline funding will continue for all departments based on existing proportions and determined by projected tax revenues. This will continue until new budget bills are passed.

    I’m certain when I receive my paycheck this week my MN state income tax deduction will be on there. When I go to the store I still pay sales tax. The state has money coming in. It has guidelines for how to spend. (The previous budget bills.) There is no reason to “shutdown” the government.

  • Bob Collins

    //And it is easy to understand your feelings

    I’m not from Minnesota. If I don’t actually *say* it, it isn’t.

  • matt

    @JackU,

    To go one better there was a wonderful, short, letter to the editor in the Strib this weekend something to the effect of – if the Gov and leg fail to pass a timely budget than immediate elections should be held.

    If they risked having to defend their offices within two weeks of a budget deadline it is unlikely that many deadlines would pass without a budget.

  • Jamie

    Very cool videos. Especially the dust storm – that looked like it was from a disaster movie or something.

    // “Is there not one wealthy person in Minnesota willing to pay their fair share?” //

    Sure Jett, there are many. MPR had a nice “thing” about this a few months ago (?). It was a collection of short writngs by people of means about how they would feel about paying higher taxes, or something like that. Very good reading. Maybe Bob can post a link to it.

    Also, Talon is right (albeit somewhat snarky) about regulations. And, a couple other notes about that: The MN Dept. of Agriculture does food inspections at the State Fair, too. It’s not just Health. And, there are LAWS that say they must inspect food establishments, so if there are no inspectors to do that at the State Fair, there would probably be no food. I suppose Agriculture could do ALL the inspecting there if the shutdown is still on (Agriculture is open for business — they’re the only agency with a 2012-13 budget).

  • matt

    @Talon,

    As the husband, son, brother in law and friend of many nurses I can assure you that it is not the state nursing board that keeps them from abusing patients. Furthermore, if your absurd propostition were true, once regulation was brought into place no bad things would ever happen again. Shall I post a listing of abused patients, e coli outbreaks, pollution and gun crimes?

    You suggest that people need to grow up an accept it but it seems that believing in the govt protection fairy might be more adolescent than noting that govt fails us.

  • Jon Hunter

    On nuclear waste, you touched on a topic that was often overlooked at this last legislative session’s debate on removing Minnesota’s moratorium on new nuclear reactors. Given that there is no federal place to ship it off to, the waste in Minnesota should be assumed to be permanent. As I understand it, that’s why the legislature said we should not build any more during their debate in the 90s. Of course, as I have heard it Xcel (then NSP) said they wouldn’t seek any more dry casks beyond their original amount either, but now they have and they’ve relicensed for another 20 years too. That’s a lot of waste.

    On the shutdown, I’ve heard that there were dozens of weddings planned for state parks, the History Center, and other state spots this past weekend, but I haven’t seen that in the media. Have you seen anything about this? I am guessing there are a lot of upset families there.

  • http://wcco.com/jasonblog Jason DeRusha

    I just renewed my license tabs yesterday – in person at the Hennepin County Service Center. I think they’ll keep renewing tabs until the registrars run out of stickers that say “11.”

  • Jamison

    I’ve been a public sector employee for 15 years, and have been in many agencies over that time. The thing that always makes my head spin is the short memory of our elected officials. The reason that we have regulations and laws and other programs is because an elected official thought it would benefit someone in their constituency to have them. Yet, every two years the legislature goes on and on about how big government is, and how much waste there is. Look in the mirror! State workers are simply doing what the elected officials have told them to do!

    I’ve lost track of the number of times that an agency has had to make a decision about how to use it’s resources, not from a sound business perspective, but because a legislator got a bill passed that made no sense when carried out. But, since our job is to carry out the law, we have to follow it, no matter how silly.

    And then the media turns around and blasts public employees for being inefficient….

  • Kristina

    Other states are making fun of us…sad to say I live here.