J. Patrick Coolican | Editor-in-Chief

Good morning. 

Imagine bills on the floor if Republicans still had the state Senate majority: Sen. Torey Westrom, R-Alexandria, introduced a bill to do the following:

Authorizing pharmacists to prescribe, dispense, and administer hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin for preexposure prophylaxis use, postexposure prophylaxis use, or the treatment of COVID-19.  

Thank you Dr. Westrom! 

Moms Demand Action celebrates 10 years at the Capitol today, and we’ve got excellent reporting on guns: 

Michelle Griffith looks at two greater Minnesota DFL senators who could make the difference on gun laws, with a lot of focus in particular on Sen. Grant Hauschild, the first-termer from Hermantown. Both Hauschild and Sen. Robert Kupec of Moorhead have de facto veto power in the 34-33 Senate. 

How do they feel about this issue that has been gripping American governance at all levels for decades? They aren’t saying

Chris Ingraham gives us excellent data from ATF that traces the path of guns purchased to guns recovered from crime scenes. 

In 1,878 cases, the purchaser and possessor were the same person: The good guy who purchased the gun lawfully had become the bad guy holding it at the crime scene. That’s about 18% of the crime guns for which authorities were able to identify both the purchaser and possessor.

He’s got other great data in there. It was all released at the behest of Attorney General Merrick Garland, Chris reports

Max Nesterak reports that Allina hospital doctors have filed for a union election. If this sounds unusual to you, you’d be correct, but conditions are rapidly changing. Here’s Max: 

Health care consolidation has squeezed out small private practices and more hospitals have chosen to employ doctors directly. A study sponsored by the Physicians Advocacy Institute found that the share of physicians employed by hospitals, health systems or corporate entities grew from 62% in 2019 to 74% in 2022.

In commentary today: Anoka County prosecutor and former Minneapolis City Council President Paul Ostrow writes that the biggest issue in criminal justice reform in Minnesota has to do with our public records law. That might sound surprising, but he’s referring to the ability of Minneapolis to cover up disciplinary issues with police by steering wayward officers into “coaching,” which isn’t considered discipline and therefore remains private, i.e., secret. 

As Ostrow points out, there’s a simple legislative fix here. Capitol types: Is this in the mix?

With former Vice President Mike Pence in town Wednesday (dozens of Minnesotans came out to see him!), our legal analyst Marshall Tanick greeted Pence with a column about Pence’s novel argument for not appearing at the Jan. 6 grand jury. He says he’s shielded from having to testify by the speech and debate clause of the U.S. Constitution that protects members of the House and Senate. Tanick calls it “cockamamie.” 

I’ll take a bow on the photo caption — do you get the reference?

Bakk redux and the U’s lobby shop

As expected (indeed, hoped for) our item on former Sen. Tom Bakk drew strong responses. 

Update from yesterday: The University has severed its relationship with Bakk. Myron Frans, the senior vice president for finance and operations: ​​”We appreciate the advice we got from former Sen. Bakk but felt like it was time to go in a different direction.” (Frans was commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget under two governors, Dayton and Walz.) 

Legislative and lobbying sources tell me the U was under heavy pressure at the Capitol to cut ties with Bakk. 

“If you could read a room you’d know that was a bad call,” a lobbyist told me. Bakk’s new lobbying gig with Twin Metals (copper-sulfide mining) and a big tobacco company were a bad fit with the university given its health care and clean water research concerns. Moreover, Bakk lost his DFL leadership position in 2020, then started caucusing with Republicans after the election. We’re in a polarizing environment: How did they think it was going to go?

The U’s government relations team has been in flux. J.D. Burton is off to Washington University in St. Louis. Matt Kramer, chief of staff to former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, will be CEO of a nonprofit. 

Frans, who is well known and respected at the Capitol, will do day-to-day government relations until they hire someone this summer. Sarah Erickson of United Strategies will coordinate at the Capitol. Tara Erickson, a longtime health care lobbyist, is running point at the Capitol to save the U of M academic research hospital from the Sanford-Fairview merger.

“We’re very engaged on our operational and capital bonding request, and we're anticipating making a request for the academic health center,” Frans told me. “We take the opportunity of this session seriously and we're working hard.” 

Sarah Erickson’s business partner at United Strategies, Richard Carlbom, has joined the Walz administration as deputy chief of staff, as the Strib first reported. 

Macalester makes the Times

NYTimes columnist Michelle Goldberg writes (no paywall) about the controversy over a Macalester art exhibition by an Iranian-American artist, first covered by Sahan Journal. Goldberg begins by calling the art of Taravat Talepasand “cheeky, erotic and defiantly anticlerical.” Some offended Macalester students got the exhibition — which satirizes modest Muslim dress and celebrates the recent uprising of Iranian women — shut down. The paintings were veiled by black curtains for a weekend. The show reopened after a “community conversation” and with a content warning and frosted glass on some gallery windows. 

Goldberg says Macalester handled it better than Hamline’s brush with something similar. But she’s unsparing about the whole episode: 

The administration’s response was still distinctly apologetic, demonstrating the anxious philistinism that can result when bureaucratic cowardice meets maximalist ideas about safety.

Goldberg provides context for this moment of repression: 

I’m not naïve enough to believe that if the left rediscovered a passionate commitment to free speech, the right would give up its furious campaign against what it calls wokeness. But I do think that if the left is to mount a convincing response to what has become a wholesale assault on intellectual liberty and free expression, it needs to be able to defend challenging and provocative work. Art need not defer to religion. If that’s no longer obvious, we’ve gone astray.

I heard “Losing my Edge” from LCD Soundsystem on Radio K this morning and I’m feeling it: 

Yeah, I'm losing my edge.

I'm losing my edge.

The kids are coming up from behind.

As James Murphy continues: “But I was there.” 

Correspond: patrick@minnesotareformer.com 

Have a great day all! JPC



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