Minnesota lags in public contract disclosure
ST. PAUL -- A national organization says Minnesota is arriving late to an open-records dance. A Ford Foundation-funded Good Jobs First study showed the state is the worst in publishing information about contracts and contractors on the Internet. ...
ST. PAUL -- A national organization says Minnesota is arriving late to an open-records dance.
A Ford Foundation-funded Good Jobs First study showed the state is the worst in publishing information about contracts and contractors on the Internet. The organization says that means it is tough for Minnesotans to find the information.
However, that is due to change next year when a new law kicks in requiring the state to offer a public database on state contracts and grants of more than $25,000.
"The importance of replacing the Interstate 35W bridge made taxpayers keenly aware of Minnesota's less-than-transparent process for awarding even major contracts," said Good Jobs First Executive Director Greg LeRoy.
The jobs group found Minnesota's current Web-based contract disclosure system was only accessible to state agencies.
Safe toys OK'd
Rookie U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar appears en route to winning approval of a bill effectively banning lead in children's toys and other products.
"As our kids look for new toys to fill their toy box this holiday season, parents have been checking to see if everything from Barbie to Batman is safe for their children," the Minnesota Democrat said. "It's simply unacceptable that we continue to see more and more toys recalled due to high lead content and safety flaws. It's time to put clear standards in place that make it clear -- toys with toxic lead have no place on our shores or in our stores."
Consumer Reports says 70 percent of consumers buying toys this year expect to check product labels for signs of lead in the toys. But a third of American shoppers plan to buy fewer toys this year.
Millions of toys have been recalled this year due to lead in toys, many of which were made in China.
President Bush's pick for agriculture secretary is good news for Minnesota, Sen. Norm Coleman said.
Coleman said former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer, who Bush last week nominated to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, understands Minnesota issues such as farm disaster assistance, the sugar program and other crops grown in the state.
"It's great to have somebody from your neighborhood who's going to be in charge of the Department of Agriculture as we move forward implementing a new farm bill," Coleman, R-Minn., told reporters. Congress is trying to finish work on new agriculture policy.
Coleman said Republican Schafer will meet with senators this week, but the North Dakotan may not be confirmed for weeks.
Farm talks on
The U.S. Senate and House are not yet ready to hammer out a compromise farm bill, but some of the negotiating is taking place.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, the House agriculture committee chairman, said a conservation program championed by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa must include money northwestern Minnesota farmers could use to improve drainage on their land.
"One of the other prices he's going to have to pay to get that through is to allow tiling to be one of the practices that is paid for" in the Conservation Security Program, Peterson, D-Minn., said in an interview.
"That's something we need to do in the (Red River) Valley. It will help us a lot with flooding. It will help us a lot with these disasters."
The Senate debates its farm bill this week.
Minnesota's Republican U.S. senator said it's time for a former mayor to be elected to the White House, but Sen. Norm Coleman, a former St. Paul mayor, did not mean himself.
Coleman last week threw his support behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential bid.
Coleman, himself up for re-election next year, said he and Giuliani have a "shared vision" about the threat of terrorism and worked together in the 1990s to revitalize their respective cities.
"What's most important is that I think he can carry Minnesota," Coleman said. "He's electable and I'm going to be on the ballot next year, so I look forward to working with a friend."
Capitol Bureau reporter Scott Wente contributed to this story.