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The Capitol Note: MNsure enrollment topped 68,000 before deadline

Mike Mullen//January 6, 2014

The Capitol Note: MNsure enrollment topped 68,000 before deadline

Mike Mullen//January 6, 2014

Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, said the governor should stop blaming technology vendors for MNsure's problems. (Staff photos: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)
Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, said the governor should stop blaming technology vendors for MNsure’s problems. (Staff photos: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

1.) As 2013 came to a close, MNsure became even more popular than officials there had initially indicated, according to a press release issued on Friday, but that news has not protected the state’s health insurance exchange from further criticism. More than 68,000 Minnesotans registered for insurance through MNsure before the midnight New Year’s Eve deadline, including 25,860 who purchase private insurance; the latter figure demonstrates a huge increase in consumer interest in the final days before the cutoff point for Jan. 1 coverage. The news was celebrated by interim MNsure CEO Scott Leitz, though others aren’t so high on MNsure at the moment.

The Pioneer Press writes about the harsh letter that Gov. Mark Dayton sent to IBM in December, which faulted the tech company for failures with the exchange website. has had repeated instances of failure since the beginning of open enrollment, and was inoperable from Thursday afternoon through the weekend. Dayton’s letter made a specific demand for IBM to deploy a team of experts to fix the website, which was granted in mid-December. Also worrying and writing about MNsure is Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, who said the fault for MNsure’s problems lies with Dayton, not IBM. “As chief executive, it is insincere to blame a vendor when according to news reports, the state didn’t even test the product prior to purchasing it,” Davids said.

2.) Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, dropped out of the 6th Congressional District race on Friday morning, explaining that he would prefer to focus on his legislative and personal goals. Pederson, a political moderate, had faced an uphill battle in the decidedly conservative district, where former GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer is thought to be leading the field. “It has become apparent to me that I cannot continue this campaign and still balance my other priorities in life,” Pederson said. “Because of this conflict, I have decided to withdraw my name from the race.” Pederson’s decision comes shortly after a crucial year-end fundraising deadline, which many candidates for federal office use as a benchmark to gauge interest and momentum; earlier fundraising reports had found Pederson trailing Emmer, as well as Rhonda Sivarajah and Phil Krinkie, both of whom opted to loan their campaigns significant amounts of personal money.

3.) Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, has made his concern about the Minnesota Vikings explicit by going public with a letter he sent to team owner Zygi Wilf regarding recent accusations by former punter Chris Kluwe. Kluwe became an outspoken advocate in favor of gay marriage and, according to a first-hand account he authored last week, his activism was met with criticism by Vikings coaches, who later dismissed him from the squad. The Vikings seem to have taken Kluwe’s report seriously, as the team has retained former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson to lead an investigation into Kluwe’s allegations about the locker room culture within the organization. In his letter to Wilf, Dibble, chief author of the gay marriage legislation, said he applauds the team’s approach to the controversy, but writes that he plans to continue to monitor the situation. “Vikings fans and the entire state are closely watching how you will be investigating this matter and we expect a thorough and public review of these accusations.”


  • Longtime legislator and former House Speaker Rod Searle has died at age 93, the Mankato Free Press reports. Searle, a Republican, spent a dozen terms representing the Waseca area following his first election win in 1956. Searle retired from the Legislature after a single term with the House gavel, and later became a booster for the Independence Party, endorsing Tom Horner in the three-way gubernatorial contest in 2010.
  • Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has been resting at Abbot Northwestern Hospital following a heart attack on Saturday. News of Rybak’s trip to the emergency room brought numerous statements of support, including one from Gov. Mark Dayton. Since entering the hospital, Rybak has kept up a steady, mostly tongue-in-cheek stream of updates on his Twitter feed.
  • Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing, scheduled a string of public events to take public input as part of his “Border to Border Broadband Tour.” Schmit will hold a meeting in North Branch at 3:00 p.m. today, followed by visits to Chatfield and Duluth on Tuesday. Full schedule available here.
  • The Scott County GOP is hosting a gubernatorial candidate forum in Lakeville at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Brackett’s Crossing Country Club is to be the site of the event; suggested donation $10. More information here.
  • Frederickson & Byron lobbyist Christina Brusven has terminated her registrations to advocate for both Gamesa Energy USA and High Country Wind Energy Project.


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