1.) Scott Leitz made his debut in the newly created role of MNsure CEO yesterday, the Pioneer Press reports, taking over the leadership role formerly held by executive director April Todd-Malmlov, who resigned on Tuesday. Leitz, who until this week worked as a deputy commissioner at the Department of Human Services, apologized for any problems Minnesotans had experienced in their attempts to enroll for insurance plans using the MNsure.org website, and said his first priority would be fixing those flaws as soon as possible. MNsure board chair Brian Beutner told reporters that he was sad to see Todd-Malmlov leave, and said she might continue to offer expertise to the exchange in a consulting capacity.
Also on Wednesday, the board met to discuss a variety of pressing topics, including the latest round of enrollment figures. Through December 14, nearly 39,000 customers had reached the “enrollment in process” stage, a gain of nearly 50 percent over enrollments at the end of November. More importantly, the number of consumers buying insurance on the private market more than doubled — 4,448 on November 31 to 11,805 by December 14 — during the first half of this month. That development indicates that at least some of the previously uninsured people targeted by the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, are now getting around to registering with MNsure as the Dec. 23 sign-up deadline approaches.
2.) Critics can no longer reflect — or project — on the reflecting pool that had once been a part of designs for the new Senate office building, according to Minnesota Public Radio. While that eye-catching feature has since hit the cutting room floor, some are still made a bit uneasy by the upper chamber’s plans to erect a nice new facility adjacent to the Capitol. That list includes Gov. Mark Dayton, as well as House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, who said Wednesday that she hopes the Senate approaches the idea with the “virtue of modesty.” Senate committee chairs would continue to office at the Capitol once the new building is done; despite calls from Murphy and others to house all 67 senators in the facility, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said project constraints — the building cannot be taller than the Capitol — mean the new office structure will not be big enough to hold all 67 Senate offices.
3.) Rep. John Benson, DFL-Minnetonka, will retire from the House after his fourth term in office ends next year. Benson said he was pleased to have contributed to balancing the state budget; he plans to continue to find ways to serve the public, but did not specify any future plans. Unlike the retirements of his fellow DFL Reps. Tom Huntley (Duluth) and Michael Paymar (St. Paul), Benson’s departure leaves an opening in a fairly competitive district. Benson may have signaled his intention to area Democrats, who seemed to have been prepared for the news. By day’s end, two of the district’s DFLers had registered campaign committees with the state: Attorney and real estate consultant Jon Applebaum — whose campaign launch came replete with a logo — was joined by Jon Tollefson, a former U.S. State Department staffer who now works at the Minnesota High Tech Association. Tollefson also announced that Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, will serve as his campaign co-chair.
COMINGS & GOINGS