Handicapping the Odds of Minnesota Becoming Freer, From Sunday Liquor to Sports Gambling

Do any of these bills have a shot at passing?
Legislators from the libertarian right and free-spirited left have teamed up this year to author a variety of bills aimed at legalizing stuff Minnesotans want.

The big one every year is Sunday alcohol sales, which by all accounts has its best chance in years of passing. There's also legislation in the works that would legalize fireworks, sports gambling, slot machines at airports, and experimental drugs for cancer patients.

Could Minnesota be on the cusp of becoming a much more fun (and dare we say free?) place to live? Let's set some odds.

See also:
Four Bill Aimed at Giving Minnesotans What They Want: Sunday Liquor Sales

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"Right to Try" Bill Would Allow Dying Patients to Use Experimental Drugs

Victor via Flickr
"Everyone has the natural, constitutional right to try to save their own life so long as they don't infringe on someone else's rights."
Matthew McConaughey won an Oscar last year for his role in Dallas Buyer's Club, where he played Ron Woodruff, an activist who smuggled experimental AIDS drugs up from Mexico in the 1980s.

Not only did the film cement McConaughey's unlikely evolution into a legitimate actor, it also kickstarted a national legislative movement to make it easier for terminally ill patients to get a hold of experimental drugs. Five states signed the first so-called "right to try" bills into law last year, and Minnesota's version will be introduced in a Senate committee on Wednesday.

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Minnesota's Camel Milk Black Market

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Minnesota's Medical Marijuana Industry Launches New Pot Labs

Wikimedia, family photo courtesy of Jessica Hauser
Wyatt Hauser, 2, suffers from constant severe seizures. His parents plan to enroll him in Minnesota's medical marijuana program once dispensaries open in July.

The idea is to put pot in the pocket of every Minnesotan who is in pain. If all goes according to plan, the nation's 22nd state to legalize medical marijuana will start distributing cannabis pills and liquids to thousands of patients by mid-summer.

On Monday the state Department of Health charged two labs located in Cottage Grove and Otsego with producing Minnesota's entire supply of medical marijuana products. LeafLine Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions are responsible for opening four distribution centers each by July 1. For a hookup, individuals need only a doctor's recommendation to register with the state's medical marijuana program.

It's an exciting time for local medical weed refugees, Minnesotan families who formerly had to travel out of state in search of humanitarian cannabis treatments. It's also a good sign -- let's face it -- for the unapologetic 420 libertarians looking to get high, but the win this round is chiefly for the cancer survivors, the AIDS patients, and the kids suffering from constant seizures.

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Is It Wise to Further Criminalize Attacks on Nurses?

Categories: Crime, Health Care

Photo by xersti

On November 2, a patient at St. John's Hospital in Maplewood attacked four nurses, severely injuring two before police tackled him. One nurse came away with a broken wrist, another a collapsed lung.

This and other violent hospital encounters inspired State Rep. Joe Atkins to propose a nurse protection bill that would increase penalties for people convicted of assaulting nurses. Under the new bill, a particularly nasty patient could serve up to three years in prison and pay $6,000 for hitting a health worker.

"The law already allows for patients convicted of this crime to be put in jail. This would just allow them to be jailed longer and be fined more," Atkins said.

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Ebola Travel Ban Becomes Divisive Issue in Franken/McFadden Race

A year ago, who would've thought Ebola, of all things, would emerge as a central issue in Al Franken's reelection bid?

It has. During a WCCO TV debate yesterday, Franken and his Republican challenger, Mike McFadden, spent over seven minutes going back and forth about what the appropriate response to the virus is.

See also:
No, the University of Minnesota Isn't Saying Ebola Is Suddenly Airborne

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Patriot Health Convinced Customers to Buy Bogus Health Insurance, State Says

Ringling College of Art & Design
Health companies want some of these

Imagine, if you will, that you're brand new to the scary world of searching for the right health insurance plan. Floods of brochures and online ads fly in front of your face, but you just want something that's affordable. After furious searching, you finally feel like you've found it: a plan that's not too expensive, and with enough coverage to help out most ailments.

But then you arrive at the doctor's office with a cold or a broken bone. And things aren't as they seem. That wonderful health insurance you thought was there for you? Turns out it wasn't health insurance at all, just a "discount plan" that might save you a bit of money but certainly isn't paying your bills. You're stuck handing over heaps of cash, with your "health insurance" barely making a dent.

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Minnetonka Company Doesn't Offer Health Care Because Catholic Owner Opposes Contraception

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Erik Paulsen takes "Ice Bucket Challenge" for ALS research after voting to cut ALS research

Screengrab via New York Daily News
Paulsen helped raise money for ALS research as a private citizen, but not as a congressman.
Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen, along with 15 of his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been singled out by the Huffington Post for taking the "Ice Bucket Challenge" this summer to raise money for ALS research despite voting to cut government funding for that same sort of research back in 2011.

Sure, that sounds hypocritical on its face, but it's not necessarily so simple. The bill Paulsen supported that cut ALS funding -- the Budget Control Act of 2011 -- cut a number of federal agencies' budgets by 5 percent, including the National Institute of Health. In other words, it took a cleaver to spending, not a scalpel.

See also:
Sheila Kihne occupies Erik Paulsen's office after he says he wants to end shutdown

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Seward Co-op dumps some products made by anti-birth control Eden Foods, cites poor sales

Co-ops and groceries might not be boycotting Eden, but at Seward, a critical mass of customers are.
As local co-ops and groceries take heat for not dumping products made by Eden Foods, a Catholic-owned company under fire for refusing to provide birth control to its employees on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, the response from places like Mississippi Market and the Seward Co-op has been largely the same -- they won't boycott, but urge customers to vote with their dollars.

Some are apparently doing just that at the Seward Co-op, and in response, management announced earlier this week that they've already stopped selling some Eden products.

See also:
Abortions at record low in MN thanks to health care access, contraceptive mandate, NARAL says

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Mississippi Market's rationale for not dumping Eden Foods is similar to Seward Co-op's [UPDATE]

Categories: Food, Health Care
Courtesy of Todd Kolod
Kolod (pictured) says Mississippi Market only carries a few Eden Foods products, but even one is too many for him.
-- Update, including comments from Mississippi Market, at bottom --

Earlier this week, we shared the Seward Co-op's reasons for continuing to sell products made by Eden Foods, a Michigan-based company with Catholic ownership that's under fire for refusing to provide birth control to its employees on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling.

As you'd probably expect, the rationale invoked by at least one other Twin Cities co-op that continues to sell Eden products is largely similar. More specifically, consider how Liz McMann, Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op's consumer affairs manager, responded to Todd Kolod (pictured at top of this post) when Kolod wrote her expressing his concerns about the co-op's decision not to dump Eden.

See also:
Male birth control pill, Gamendazole, being developed at University of Minnesota

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DFL bill would nullify Hobby Lobby ruling in MN, force employers to offer contraception

Rep. Erin Murphy
During a news conference yesterday, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), introduced a bill that would essentially nullify the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling in Minnesota and force employers to offer contraceptive coverage to their employees.

Reached for comment later in the day, Murphy told us, "The goal is to make sure that women have access to affordable contraception in their employer-based coverage, similar to what the law was under the Affordable Care Act before the Hobby Lobby decision."

See also:
Minnesota's own Hobby Lobby: MN businesses gain from SCOTUS ruling

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