The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (

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Friday, November 15, 2002
Public Services and e-Government. Minnesota Governor-Elect Lauds Online and Streamlined Services. In a tour of the Division of Motor Vehicle Services Minnesota Governor-Elect Tim Pawlenty lauded the turnaround in services and use of online technology in the department and indicated this was the model for what he would like to see more of in state government services. The full story may be found at: (212)

Thursday, November 14, 2002
The Economy. US Ranks Number One In Global Competitivenss. The World Economic Forum issued a report in November 20002 ranking 80 countries on competitiveness and economic growth potential. In the two main categories, the US ranked number one. hThe full report may be found at: (211)

Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Healthcare: Nursing Home Information Online. On November 12, 2002 the US Department of Health and Human Services released information on quality for 17,000 nursing homes in the country. Families will have information on 10 quality indicators examining such things as the prevalence of physical restraints at a facility and the percentage of residents who have bed sores. Information on deficiencies found during annual inspections and complaint investigations also is being made available. The government also is placing ads about the new availability of the data in several major newspapers nationwide. Consumers can access the information on the government's Web site at: — or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. (210)

Energy and Environment. Energy Secretary Unveils Hydrogen Blueprint for US. On November 12, 2002 Energy Secretary Abraham unveiled the National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap during his keynote address to an international audience of senior government, industry and academic officials at the Global Forum on Personal Transportation in Dearborn, Mich. You can download the Roadmap document from the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Information Network at The press release for the speech may be found at: (209)

Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Healthcare: Rx in a Box. Jim McCartney wrote for the November 10, 2002 issue of the Pioneer Press on a vending machine for prescriptions. The InstyMeds machine allows patients to get prescriptions without visiting the pharmacist. The process to use the machine begins when a physician enters a prescription for a patient in a personal digital assitastant (PDA) and the patient’s information is checked electronically and the patient gets a written voucher with a security code. The patient then goes to an InstyMeds machine and enters the code and the appropriate drug, dosage, amount, label, instructions and packaging are assembled automatically. If there are problems, there is a telephone on the side of the machine for direct access to a pharmacist on 24-hour call. With more than 500 openings for pharmacists in a state with 3,300 licensed pharmacists, automation may be in our future. More information on the system may be found at: (208)

Monday, November 11, 2002
Transportation and Transit. Minneapolis City Council Spends 2.9 Million Dollars on “Green” Buses for Circulator. Kevin Featherly wrote for a November issue of Skyway News about a Minneapolis City Council action on October 25, 2002 to order eight low-emission shuttle buses as part of a downtown circulator system. The city's share will be reimbursed through an $8 million Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant. The agency in 1992 awarded Minneapolis funds to buy alternative-fuel buses for a proposed Nicollet Mall shuttle program, which ultimately failed. The buses would run daily along the Nicollet Mall, from a turnaround at Washington Avenue and 3rd Avenue South to the Convention Center. Councilmember Sandra Colvin Roy, chair of the council's Transportation and Public Works committee, said adding a Hennepin Avenue loop to the circulator system on evenings and weekends also is a goal. The Metropolitan Council would operate the buses as part of its Metro Transit fleet. The council's 13-0 vote modifies a 1999 agreement with the Met Council, increasing the city's share of the buses' price tag to $2.9 million. The 1999 agreement called for $2.4 million in city funding. The Met Council's share of matching funds for the bus purchases will rise to $725,000, up from $600,000 in the '99 agreement. The full article may be seen at: (207)

Sunday, November 10, 2002
Healthcare: Costs Bite Hard on Minneapolis City Budget. Scott Russell wrote an article for a November issue of Southwest Journal entitled: “Health-care cost surge squeezes city budget, employees”. Employee health-care premium hikes will consume 30 percent of next year's property tax hike in the City of Minneapolis on top of additional payments by employees. Health insurance costs for city, park and library workers will increase by 19 percent in 2003, translating into a $3.6 million tax hike -- or nearly three dollars in 10 of the mayor's proposed $12.3 million property tax increase. The city is working with a property tax increase cap of 8 percent – which about four times the rate of inflation. A number of cuts are on the table including police reductions. The full story may be found at: (206)