1) Senate Democrats rolled out legislation that would ban businesses from not covering any treatments guaranteed by law in response to the US Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
Both Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar back the measure. “This is really about protecting employees,” Franken told the radio station.
Franken’s presumptive opponent in the fall elections, businessman Mike McFadden, said Democrats are politicizing the issue for their own gain. But, after declining to speak about the issue recently, McFadden said Wednesday he’d be open to a plan that would allow the over-the-counter sales of contraceptives.
“One of the solutions that I’m looking at is to make contraception available over the counter for women that either don’t have insurance or work for an employer that does not cover contraception,” McFadden said.
2) MNsure’s rates could increase by as much as 12 percent for next year, a health plan trade group executive speculated recently at a University of Minnesota forum, KSTP reports.
Julie Brunner, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, told the symposium that she would “not be surprised if the health plans increased their rates by 8, 10, or even 12 percent.” In a recent interview with PIM, Brunner walked back that comment.
She told KSTP: “No one knows what the rates will be when they are approved and announced in November.”
Gov. Mark Dayton said he’d be disappointed to see rates increase by that magnitude since MNsure’s came in last year at the lowest in the nation. There’s been brewing controversy over this year’s rates because they’re not set to be released until after the fall elections.
Republicans have long been calling for the rates to be released before November, which Democrats have resisted — and both have called politics. The KSTP story set fire to Republicans on Twitter after the story was published on Wednesday.
3) Gov. Mark Dayton requested on Wednesday that President Barack Obama declare a disaster in Minnesota after rains and flooding swept the state in June, the Star Tribune reports.
Dayton’s letter to Obama details 51 counties in a state of emergency. That’s up from 35 previously, and damage in southwest Minnesota already top the necessary threshold for federal relief. Estimates from 31 other counties sit at about $55 million, with most of the damages afflicting roads and bridges.
“The flood damage recently inflicted on Minnesota roads, highways and bridges has been severe and widespread,” Dayton said in a statement. “These funds will speed up important repairs statewide.”
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Mary Kay Delvo has joined the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council as the trade industry group’s new head of membership and development. Delvo was most recently head of advocacy and statewide programs at the University of Minnesota’s College of Food Agriculture and Natural Sciences (CFANS), a a title she held for almost a decade.
- Conservative talk show host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham is coming to Minnesota for a get-out-the-vote effort on behalf of gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour, according to a tweet from that campaign’s official account. Ingraham will be in the state on August 3, but no further details were released on Wednesday.
- The Northland Foundation, a grant-making and loan-issuing nonprofit focused on Northeastern Minnesota, is hiring for a new president. At least 10 years of experience in nonprofit, philanthropic or community leadership work is required. More information, including organization background, available here.
- Lobbyist Lyall Delaney deleted his registration to work for the Police Officers Alliance of Minnesota. That termination, along with another recent change, leaves Delaney without any current clients, and his switch reduces the law enforcement alliance to two lobbyists on retainer.