The Minnesota legislature is taking data privacy seriously. Good show! Better protections for personal data, whether in the hands of retailers or the government, are sorely needed.
The diversion of the Red River to protect Fargo-Moorhead from flooding is getting further funding for engineering studies. Perhaps the pace of the project will begin to accelerate once a final plan is drawn up.
President Obama highlighted transportation infrastructure in a speech in St. Paul Union Station, and the need for Congress to provide steady funding for the nation’s transportation networks in the face of stagnant fuel tax levies in a nation slowly but surely becoming less dependent on the gas pump.
The Twin Cities are making strides in reducing their car-dependence through investments in transit and bicycling infrastructure, as well as tweaking land development. Minneapolis is looking for a plan to add 100,000 people and not-nearly-so-many cars, while St. Paul is adding over 300 km of bike trails.
There will be a day in court for thousands of North Dakotans affected by the grave breach in the fabric of the credit card system at Target Stores.
It is hardly enough to end at compensation for the victims, though. The large-scale data heist was only possible in an era of mass aggregation of payment data, where banks and merchants conspire to find purchase patterns to sell to advertisers, or really whoever will pay.
In all reality, each and every one of the 1797 retail outlets Target operates in the United States is big enough to allow serious fraud if the wrong person gets hold of payment data. Add them all together, and you get an irresistible target for thieves.
The fallout from the data breach has shown the tremendous danger to public safety that comes from aggregating that payment information in a single place. Merchants and bankers must end their delusions of omniscience and return to policies that protect individual privacy, not the thin cashouts on data sales. Lawmakers need to step up and make it illegal for hundreds of millions of dollars in payment data to be stored centrally.
Just thirty-six sources provided the majority of PAC funds in Minnesota over the past seven years, according to the StarTribune.
One wonders on these last fundraising days of the year, when e-mail inboxes are clogged with unusually large numbers of solicitations, just how much the little guy counts, when parties and candidates can score so much bigger from a handful of key players.
According to State Exchange data aggregated by SteveMorse.org, a 40-year-old resident of East Grand Forks (Polk County) pays $199.59 monthly for a Gold plan, where the cheapest such plan costs $323.04 monthly in Grand Forks.
What’s more, the North Dakota “Gold” plan only pays 70% coinsurance, where the Minnesota plan covers everything after the deductible. Sure, the math for 100% after $2000 is subtly different than the math for 70% after $500, then 100% after $19500 in health costs, but on average, 80% paid out is 80% paid out, and the only real difference between the cost of such plans should be the costs over the entire risk pool. Unless someone has mathematical proof it’s 62% deadlier to be a North Dakotan, we’re getting hosed.
Another hosing: No North Dakota insurer offers a Platinum level plan, which would pay an average of 90% of healthcare costs. In Minnesota, the cheapest such plan would still cost less than a Bronze Plan (the 60% coverage tier) in North Dakota.
Whether it comes in a modest bump or a significant rise, the minimum wage in Minnesota is going to increase very soon. Community groups are backing the House bill that calls for $9.50 indexed, while the Senate is still running a version that just ticks things up to $7.75.
A higher wage standard is a public policy strategy that will be positive for the increasing number of individuals forced to accept minimum wage. It will yield exponentially larger benefits for the economy as a whole, as the wage rise manifests in increased consumer demand.