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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Medical Marijuana: Doctor Timidity & Red Tape Need To Go

Category: Economy
Posted: 07/01/15 23:33

by Dave Mindeman

Today the Medical Marijuana law took effect and patients could now get their medication. However, very few people are eligible because doctors are reluctant to get involved and the law is so very restrictive.

As to the restrictions, I feel that Minnesota's legislature was much too timid in regards to the writing of this law. They kept watering down the availability until we have come to the point that the medicine is not going to get to the people who need it fast enough.

But I am particularly disappointed with Minnesota's physicians. I understand that there is ambiguity in regards to State and Federal law - and there might be a certain risk to get into the middle of this-- I think it is minimal but it is still there.

But what I find particularly disturbing is the complaints from doctors about loss of control. As I understand it, the doctors evaluate their patients for eligibility in the program and then hand their patients over to the program for actual treatment. Yes, the doctors do not have much control about the patient treatment once the patient is in the program, but if they are not happy with the outcome they can encourage their patient to drop out and return to the doctor's course of treatment.

You have to wonder how different the doctors would be assessing the marijuana program if it had a Big Pharma company promoting these medications.

Viagra type advertising....doctors given lunches and paid seminars to consider the treatment...sales pitches from hard sell representatives. You know, the kind of thing they are used to dealing with.

You have to wonder how different the program's fortunes would be under that type of promotion.

This program deserves to move forward. It's not like we have a drug that has never been tested in humans. We know the side effects...we know what it will do. A multitude of opinions have been posted about it.

What is needed now is a chance for this program to succeed or fail on its own merits. We do not need to get hung up on speculation or innuendo. We have patients who desperately want to give this a chance. They want the opportunity to try this treatment. They want to take the risks. They want to see the outcomes directly.

The red tape and the doctors need to get out of the way and let the treatment begin.

The patients, the ones that are directly affected, are clear about this.
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Apparently Rep. Garofalo Thinks Sen. Bakk Needs Defending

Category: Economy
Posted: 06/10/15 16:06

by Dave Mindeman

I don't usually respond to specific comments directed at me, even when they are particularly nasty. I accept that as par for the course.

But I do think it is worth responding to this twitter reply from Rep. Pat Garofalo.....

#mnleg 2015 Session: Never has so little, been done by so few, with such a weak window of transparency.

Rep Pat Garofalo;@PatGarofalo
.@newtbuster - Your hatred for rural DFLers (specifically Iron Rangers) is getting tedious. Develop a new narrative.

Apparently Garofalo has been reading my commentary on Sen. Bakk because otherwise that reply would make no sense in response to the tweet that it answers to.....so maybe he will be reading this as well.

But let's talk about this a bit.

First of all - I don't hate "rural DFLers (specifically Iron Rangers)". As I recall, Governor Dayton made a comment that "some Republicans hate public education"....which sent them into a public snit and a demand for an apology.

I won't ask for an apology because the GOP uses this type of "hate" rhetoric all the time - they only object to it when it refers to them from the other side.

So let's move on.

It is interesting to see House GOPers defending the Senate DFL leadership in regards to this session. It is obvious that they agree with my point that Leader Bakk and his inner circle helped the House GOP in moving their agenda. Garofalo defends them as "allies".

And that has been my point all along. It is not an attack on rural DFL legislators. It is not an attack on Iron Rangers. It is an acknowledgement that the Senate leadership was not backing its own governor and embarked on a personal agenda that did not serve the interests of the Party as a whole.

As for the regional issues of the Iron Range, I only disagree with them on one issue. Mining. But that one issue has been a hard one to navigate. I fully understand that they want to help an economically depressed area, but why does it have to be only about mining?

I believe that the real natural resource in that area is the Boundary Waters. A pristine natural area that has so much potential for tourism, habitat, and water supply. I may be wrong, but I don't think the notion of adding 350 jobs coupled with a risk of chemical runoff into that water table is a fair trade off.

If Polymet can find an eco-friendly way to do it, then I happily join them in their quest. But they have shown this state that they prefer a legislative work around rather than the hard work of finding the environmentally sound approach.

And therein lies one of my problems with Senator Bakk. He uses his position for regional gain, rather than working the Democratic Party as a whole.

But that is not my only beef with Senator Bakk (and again, this is not some vendetta against rural DFLers or Iron Rangers in particular). Senator Bakk holds a position that can serve Democratic progress. If he had stood with the Governor during the session....if he had not circumvented his own caucus in making deals.....if he had not wasted political capital on an ambush of the Auditor's office...if he had not, in the dark of night, patched that sulfide waste amendment into the environment bill....maybe, just maybe, we could have accepted some of his dealings.

But he just went too far.

I appreciate rural issues. I grew up on a farm. I understand Greater MN's need for broadband. I understand how the MNSure rules actually benefited farmers unable to get insurance at group rates. I understand how the buffers that Gov. Dayton has requested need to have a lot of farmer input to be acceptable. I understand how rural hospitals and rural nursing homes are in need of more than the average state help. And I understand how roads and bridges and transit are just as important in rural areas as they are in the metro.

But I never saw very many of those rural needs addressed by the House GOP that pledged to do so....promised to do so.

I also appreciate Iron Rangers. The Iron Range is a Democratic base. My environmental beef with the Iron Range is with the mining companies - not the workers....not the region. I don't have a problem with their need to protect hunting and fishing rights. To find a means to grow their economy. To increase the transportation funding for a sprawling, mostly rural area that needs state help in that regard.

And the needs in the metro match the needs of Duluth. The educational needs of UMD match the needs of UMN-Twin Cities (UMD is going to hold a particular place in my heart because my recently graduated son is going to attend the Swenson College of Engineering at UMD this fall.)

I do not "hate" rural issues or Iron Range issues. I support finding solutions that satisfy all concerned.

But I cannot accept the back room deals and the ambush of Democratic office holders that have marked the tenure of Senator Bakk.

The House lost a number of rural seats in the last election. But few, if any, were in the Iron Range. Yes, we need to address rural issues, but frankly, I think Democrats have always addressed those issues better than what the House did in their current "pledge to help" session.

I understand the need for Garofalo and his cohorts to make this a rural vs metro division. They only understand politics that divide people.

I want leadership that works for the entire state. That engages in political negotiation out in the open. That encourages input from all sides. That meets state needs head on and in the present, rather than kicking it down the road on borrowed money.

That is what my narrative has been....and I'm sticking to it.
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A Layman's Suggestion For A MN Budget Solution

Category: Economy
Posted: 05/13/15 09:47

by Dave Mindeman

Look, people, I think there is an 80% chance that we have a special session over the budget. And a 70% chance of a partial shutdown. The two sides are just so far apart, it looks impossible.

So, you won't read it, or look at it..and you may even laugh at it, but here are some suggestions for compromise.

1. First of all, two billion dollars in tax cuts is just ridiculous on its face. If House GOP wants tax cuts so bad, then go with the tax credit for regular Minnesotans. It sunsets after two years and will give the GOP a talking point on giving some of the surplus back. But the business property tax cut and the estate tax cut are just too ludicrous for words. Why should business who profits from property use get a cut, while the rest of us who simply live on our property make up the difference? And the estate tax deal only affects a handful of rich people. What's the point?

2. Although universal Pre-K is the ideal and hopefully the longer term goal, targeted scholarships for low income students is acceptable.

3. MinnesotaCare should be off the table. Period. But if the House wants those other $300 million in cuts - then please, use some real numbers. The phantom number that is proposed cannot be negotiated because no one seems to know where it resides.

4. In transportation, maybe the DFL should cut the gas tax request in half and then use the House proposal to take a portion of the surplus for transportation. (Get rid of the revenue shift to only roads and bridges - dumb idea) And if everybody is bold enough, the metro sales tax increase for transit should go through because the metro favors the tax increases in total. Allow them to at least meet some of their transit requests. That still is not going to meet all of the needs of Minnesota's transportation infrastructure. More kicking the can, but at least its new revenue.

5. And for pete's sake, why not meet some of the greater Minnesota requests in a bonding bill? As we have seen before, costs for projects only go up if delayed. Maybe some of the unmet needs in transportation can be relegated to a bigger bonding bill. And if greater Minnesota emphasis is the need, then don't talk, ACT.

6. Its worth noting that the cutback on cigarette taxes is nuts. But please keep the e-cigarette tax in place...and make it bigger.

7. Education funding needs to be increased. And the U of M low ball number doesn't punish the administration, it only hurts students. The numbers have to be reworked in this regard, and making tax cuts a priority in light of stalled education budgets is absolutely ludicrous.

8. And find money for broadband....or go into next election at your own peril. Hint. hint.

9. The punitive LGA cuts for Twin Cities and Duluth need to be gone.

There you are....a layman's suggestion.

Feel free to ignore and I'm sure you will. But for heaven's sake, get something done.
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