Minnesota exported $21.4 billion of goods last year, the White House has announced.
President Barack Obama talked Thursday about his economic plan, which he said resulted in an American record $2.35 trillion in exports. Part of the White House push included highlighting state trade.
Obama’s team said that Minnesota’s exports supported 106,000 jobs in 2013.
“On average, jobs in these export-related industries pay up to 18 percent more than non-export related industries,” the White House reported.
Minnesota exports were boosted by the Obama “Made in Rural America” initiative, the White House said.
The report emphasized Obama initiatives including the White House Rural Council, which hosted a series of workshops to “connect rural leaders and businesses with resources to expand exports and to identify barriers to exporting for rural businesses.”
Feedback from those conferences resulted in actions to help export rural products.
Minnesota’s exports came from a number of areas, the White House reported, led by computer and electronic products ($3.8 billion); machinery, except electrical ($3.2 billion); and transportation equipment ($2.6 billion).
The state exported $10.2 billion of good to countries around the Pacific rim and $4.2 billion to the European Union.
“Minnesota has a diverse and robust export economy, with more than 930 different products going to 192 countries in the fourth quarter,” Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben of the Department of Employment and Economic Development said.
Poll shows mixed message
A new poll shows Minnesotans are split about Gov. Mark Dayton’s performance, but don’t like his highly publicized boost in commissioner pay.
SurveyUSA’s poll 600 Minnesota adults for KSTP-TV indicated that 46 percent approve of the job Dayton is doing, while 42 percent oppose, with a 4.4 percent margin of error.
At the same time, 70 percent of Minnesotans oppose the Dayton move to give raises of up to $35,000 a year to his commissioners. Nineteen percent approved the raises, with 11 percent not sure.
The Legislature approved and Dayton signed a bill temporarily rolling back the raises, but allowing Dayton to reinstate them — or other sizes of raises — on July 1. Beginning July 2, any raises would need legislative approval.
SurveyUSA’s poll showed 74 percent wants the Legislature to have that final approval.
The poll also shows that Dayton may face problems in passing his $6 billion, 10-year transportation plan. Fifty-one percent oppose the plan, with 43 percent in favor.
At the same time, a preliminary Republican plan to spend $750 million on highways and bridges received 75 percent support. However, the poll did not tell respondents that the GOP plan is just a temporary one, with a full proposal expected in coming weeks.
Peterson backs pilots
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, a pilot, has introduced Pilot’s Bill of Rights legislation to increase protections for pilots.
The Peterson bill would reform the pilot medical certification system and make it easier to provide no-cost transportation for patients receiving medical treatment to assist in disaster relief.
“The Pilot’s Bill of Rights II takes important steps to strengthen the rights of general aviation pilots and address burdensome government regulations,” the western Minnesota Democrat said. “The bill will promote safety while reducing barriers to pilot certification and protecting volunteer pilots who support the public good.”
Franken hails FCC vote
U.S. Sen. Al Franken was thrilled with the Federal Communications Commission took a vote backing up his feeling about the Internet.
The FCC adopted new “net neutrality” protections meant to ensure that the Internet remains open and free for all.
“This is an enormous victory,” the Minnesota Democrat said. “This is the culmination of years of hard work by countless Americans who believe, just as I do, that the Internet should remain the free and open platform that it’s always been.”
One part of net neutrality is preventing charging Internet users who want faster access. Franken said that such charges would allow the rich better internet access than others.
Trafficking bill heads to vote
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s anti-sex trafficking bill is heading for a full Senate vote.
The Minnesota Democrat’s legislation, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, is modeled after a Minnesota law that helps to make sure minors sold for sex are treated as victims, and not prosecuted.
The U.S. House already has passed a version of the Klobuchar bill.
“Sex trafficking isn’t just happening in some far-away nation, it’s happening in our own backyard,” Klobuchar said. “In Minnesota, we’ve already recognized that kids who are sold for sex are not criminals who need jail time; they are victims who need support.”
The best-known Minnesota Supreme Court justice is retiring.
Alan Page, who gained fame in the 1970s as a Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle, reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 this year and leaves the court at the end of August.
Gov. Mark Dayton has asked the Commission on Judicial Selection to review candidates for the Page position and any others that open this year. Justice Wilhelmina Wright has been recommended for a federal post, which could produce another opening.
Dayton asked that applications be made by April 10.
Tax rebate not favored
Senate Finance Chairman Richard Cohen of St. Paul followed Friday’s announcement of a $1.9 billion surplus with his opposition to sending rebate checks back to Minnesotans as occurred when Jesse Ventura was governor.
Cohen recounted that his “Jesse Check” was for $250, which paid for about half of an airline ticket to New York City. He said that while he enjoyed the trip, he paid for it “over the next decade with higher property taxes, higher fees.”
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, wants to send much of the surplus back to Minnesotans in the form of tax cuts.
When asked if he would like to send “Kurt Checks” to Minnesotans, he quickly responded “that’s a good idea,” but just as quickly said he was joking.