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Jim Spencer

Washington Correspondent | Newsroom
phone: 612-270-1266
Jim Spencer works in the Star Tribune's Washington, D.C., bureau. He covers the intersection of Minnesota businesses and industry with national politics, legislation and regulation. Spencer has more than three decades' experience as a news reporter, columnist, feature writer and sports writer.
Recent content from Jim Spencer
Senate panel questions benefit for consumers in AT&T-Time Warner deal

Senate panel questions benefit for consumers in AT&T-Time Warner deal

Senators were skeptical of the claim by the CEOS of the two companies that their megadeal would result in lower prices.

Senate passes 21st Century Cures Act; bill heads to Obama

The bill makes changes in regulatory review and helps to finance research.
Deal means exit for Vascular Solutions CEO who beat government in court

Deal means exit for Vascular Solutions CEO who beat government in court

Howard Root said he would rather step away from the Maple Grove-based business he co-founded and ran for 20 years than face the risks that he says come from running a publicly traded medical device company.
Senate vote clears way for 21st Century Cures Act

Senate vote clears way for 21st Century Cures Act

WASHINGTON — The 21st Century Cures Act, which speeds up approval of medical devices and drugs and sets up a sweeping medical research framework for…

U.S. House passes 21st Century Cures Act

Included in the bill, which heads to the Senate, are key changes in the regulatory process used to evaluate new medical devices.
Wavering by Trump creates uncertainty for Minn. businesses

Wavering by Trump creates uncertainty for Minn. businesses

Minnesota businesses whose growth plans depend on exports will face a new obstacle if President-elect Trump enacts the trade program he outlined during the campaign.
Review: 'I'll Take You There,' by Wally Lamb

Review: 'I'll Take You There,' by Wally Lamb

FICTION: A wise but gimmicky novel about a film producer who uses time travel and visiting ghosts to look back on how the world has changed for women.
Bankruptcy judge blocks attempt to rescind Essar Steel's mineral rights

Bankruptcy judge blocks attempt to rescind Essar Steel's mineral rights

The ruling gives the company until February to work out plan to restart its stalled Nashwauk project.

FDA hearing on off-labels use of devices explores risks to patients

The FDA is grappling with how far companies can go in touting uses that haven't been studied.
FDA urged to recognize need for exchange of info about unapproved uses of devices, drugs

FDA urged to recognize need for exchange of info about unapproved uses of devices, drugs

They want freer exchanges on unapproved uses; critics are leery.

Klobuchar, Franken critical of FDA's reporting program for medical devices

It "stands in the way" of keeping public informed.
Suit against Medtronic questions the company's handling of spinal device

Suit against Medtronic questions the company's handling of spinal device

A former sales rep alleges the company misrepresented how the device would be used.
Senators ask Mylan to provide detailed EpiPen pricing info

Senators ask Mylan to provide detailed EpiPen pricing info

They wonder if product was intentionally misclassified to lower rebates paid to Medicaid.
Franken, Klobuchar take aim at AT&T-Time Warner deal

Franken, Klobuchar take aim at AT&T-Time Warner deal

Within hours of AT&T's announcement that it had agreed to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion, U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota put out a statement saying he was "skeptical of huge media mergers."

Senate committee plans Nov. 30 hearing on EpiPen

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Nov. 30 hearing to discuss pricing policies for the Mylan Pharmaceuticals EpiPen epinephrine injector that…
Public can report medical device problems at new FDA webpage

Public can report medical device problems at new FDA webpage

Patient safety advocates welcome move, but say enforcement is the key.

Debate over forced arbitration finds its second wind, with help from events like Wells Fargo scandal

WASHINGTON – Nearly eight years after launching a legislative assault on binding arbitration clauses buried in service and employment contracts, U.S. Sen. Al Franken,…
Klobuchar, Franken critical of FDA's reporting program for medical devices

Klobuchar, Franken critical of FDA's reporting program for medical devices

It "stands in the way" of keeping public informed.
FDA rules allow device makers to keep injuries under wraps

FDA rules allow device makers to keep injuries under wraps

"Physicians might change their minds if they knew how many problems there really were," said a former FDA official who left the agency to found a search engine that tracks device performance.
Federal spending on EpiPen devices jumped 463 percent over 5 years

Federal spending on EpiPen devices jumped 463 percent over 5 years

WASHINGTON – Federal Medicare and Medicaid payments for Mylan Pharmaceutical’s EpiPen epinephrine injector rose from roughly $86 million in 2011 to about $487 million…
Review: 'The Heavens May Fall,' by Allen Eskens

Review: 'The Heavens May Fall,' by Allen Eskens

FICTION: In lawyer turned writer Allen Eskens' third mystery, troubled detective Max Rupert investigates and broods.
Responsible budget committee fears presidential campaigns are ignoring national debt

Responsible budget committee fears presidential campaigns are ignoring national debt

The fiscal committee, led by Minnesotans, says it is off the voters' minds, too.
Census: Minnesota income growth lagged nation's in 2015

Census: Minnesota income growth lagged nation's in 2015

While income growth remains a worry, fewer people are living in poverty and the ranks of the uninsured have thinned.
Senators want to know if EpiPen maker violated law

Senators want to know if EpiPen maker violated law

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, they question how Mylan classified device in order to lower rebates.
Mixed response at hearing to Rep. John Kline's pension proposal

Mixed response at hearing to Rep. John Kline's pension proposal

Hybrid approach would allow benefits to change if needed, but critics say the approach poses risks for workers.
Senators lambaste Wells Fargo CEO over fake accounts

Senators lambaste Wells Fargo CEO over fake accounts

Stumpf apologized, but wouldn't call what happened 'fraud'
Pokemon knows where you go – and much more

Pokemon knows where you go – and much more

The trove of personal data that Pokemon Go and other popular smartphone apps obtain and keep on users has led privacy advocates to warn that players risk having personal details exploited commercially and possibly criminally.
Minnesota manufacturers look for personal touch to fill jobs

Minnesota manufacturers look for personal touch to fill jobs

Schools and manufacturers find they must team up to nurture a talent pool.
Kline proposes more flexible benefits as part of pension reform

Kline proposes more flexible benefits as part of pension reform

Opponents include labor unions that say the changes provide inadequate protections for workers.
Klobuchar among senators seeking investigation of EpiPen classification

Klobuchar among senators seeking investigation of EpiPen classification

Device's "non-innovator" status is estimated to be costing states millions in Medicaid overpayments.
EpiPen makers are being overpaid, Sen. Amy Klobuchar says

EpiPen makers are being overpaid, Sen. Amy Klobuchar says

Auto-injector was inappropriately given generic designation, she says.
Franken joins mounting criticism of EpiPen manufacturer

Franken joins mounting criticism of EpiPen manufacturer

A letter from senators sent Tuesday questions Mylan's plans to introduce half-price generic.
EpiPen manufacturer says it will offer new discounts on the product

EpiPen manufacturer says it will offer new discounts on the product

Mylan CEO says pricing is only "part of the problem."
Klobuchar, others call for FTC to investigate increases in EpiPen prices

Klobuchar, others call for FTC to investigate increases in EpiPen prices

Amy Klobuchar is among several senators criticizing sharp price rise for product she calls a 'life preserver' for millions.
Minnesota businesses uneasy with campaign's anti-trade rhetoric

Minnesota businesses uneasy with campaign's anti-trade rhetoric

New protectionist stance tests traditional alliance.

Feds award $1.1M to Twin Cities & Western railroad for safety upgrade

The money will be used for a system that automatically stops trains to avoid accidents.
After DNC hack, Minnesota braces for digital threat to election

After DNC hack, Minnesota braces for digital threat to election

Across the country, in the aftermath of the extraordinary attack on the DNC computers, cyber security experts are newly assessing the vulnerability of the nation's voting system. Some say the technological weaknesses are significant enough to disrupt the presidential election.
Patients injured by Medtronic product settle for $8.45M from UCLA

Patients injured by Medtronic product settle for $8.45M from UCLA

UCLA will pay two patients who suffered injuries after a doctor there treated them with the Infuse bone graft. Medtronic will pay one of them a confidential settlement.

Feds fund Scott County project to improve truck traffic on Hwy. 169

$17.7 million grant aims to unclog a dangerous intersection and move freight faster.
House gives thumbs-up to GMO label law; bill goes to Obama

House gives thumbs-up to GMO label law; bill goes to Obama

Agriculture Department officials will have two years to determine how to implement labeling rules.
'She can handle Donald Trump,' Rep. Ellison says in endorsing Clinton

'She can handle Donald Trump,' Rep. Ellison says in endorsing Clinton

Minneapolis congressman and big-time Bernie Sanders backer says Clinton is progressive enough to rally Democrats and tough enough to beat Trump.
Franken raises privacy concerns with Pokemon Go

Franken raises privacy concerns with Pokemon Go

Many children are among millions of users of the app, which tracks personal data.
Sens. Franken and Klobuchar will support bill requiring GMO foods to be labeled

Sens. Franken and Klobuchar will support bill requiring GMO foods to be labeled

Legislation would make foods across the country carry labels disclosing genetically engineered ingredients.
Teamsters are still looking at pennies on dollar in retirement

Teamsters are still looking at pennies on dollar in retirement

Efforts to mitigate Central States pension woes still take back seat to finger-pointing.
As Vermont GMO law takes effect, Senate debates national standard

As Vermont GMO law takes effect, Senate debates national standard

Vermont recently implemented the country's first law that makes food distributors reveal the presence of genetically engineered ingredients. In a few weeks, that law could be dead.
Ikea to stop selling dresser linked to death of Minn. child

Ikea to stop selling dresser linked to death of Minn. child

Ikea has agreed to stop selling and recall a dresser that had a tipping problem that had injured or killed several people, including a 22-month-old boy from Apple Valley, who died in February.
National GMO labels a step closer, but not everybody's happy

National GMO labels a step closer, but not everybody's happy

Deal could provide first national law mandating on-package notification of genetically engineered ingredients.
In letter to Franken, FDA defends handling of Medtronic's Infuse study

In letter to Franken, FDA defends handling of Medtronic's Infuse study

Franken had asked it questions about late Medtronic report.
Lawmakers seek public disclosure of where companies book profits

Lawmakers seek public disclosure of where companies book profits

Franken, others want U.S. multinationals to publicly disclose profits country-by-country.
National gun debate echoes in Minnesota political campaigns

National gun debate echoes in Minnesota political campaigns

Minnesota's Republican House members voted to prevent debate on a bill to ban firearms sales to suspected terrorists. Their reluctance is not just predictable, it is probably pragmatic politics, experts said.
Food companies appear resigned to GMO labeling

Food companies appear resigned to GMO labeling

Due to a new Vermont law, some food companies are already redoing packages.
Keep pushing Cuban trade, Klobuchar and Emmer tell business leaders

Keep pushing Cuban trade, Klobuchar and Emmer tell business leaders

Two top Minnesota lawmakers say the business case will be key to building support to end the long-standing trade embargo.

McCollum, others meet with Twin Metals over BWCA

Some in state's D.C. delegation are at odds over desire to mine.
Rep. Keith Ellison says anti-Muslim speech won't end without political clout

Rep. Keith Ellison says anti-Muslim speech won't end without political clout

He says Muslims must build political clout to fight hate and discrimination.
Food label overhaul raises profile of calories, 'added sugars'

Food label overhaul raises profile of calories, 'added sugars'

New details about added sugar, calorie counts are among the rules the FDA approved.
Klobuchar calls on Ikea to recall Malm dressers, halt sales

Klobuchar calls on Ikea to recall Malm dressers, halt sales

WASHINGTON – Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has teamed with Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois in urging Swedish furniture seller Ikea to “conduct a…
Medtronic says failure to report Infuse data was unintentional

Medtronic says failure to report Infuse data was unintentional

Franken, Klobuchar had sought explanation of how review was misplaced, findings unreported.
National Research Council: GMO foods cause no more health problems than others

National Research Council: GMO foods cause no more health problems than others

Report finds no difference in human health problems as GMO labeling issue heats up.
Nolan pushing bill to stop Congress from 'dialing for dollars'

Nolan pushing bill to stop Congress from 'dialing for dollars'

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota spoke at the National Press Club Monday to tout legislation that would prohibit members of Congress from making personal requests for political donations.
Minnesotans in Congress press transportation secretary on Delta flight from MSP to Tokyo

Minnesotans in Congress press transportation secretary on Delta flight from MSP to Tokyo

Leaders say Minnesota business is at risk without direct flight to Asia.
Teamsters pension fund to Congress: We need your help

Teamsters pension fund to Congress: We need your help

With the retirements of 407,000 people on the line, the Teamsters' Central States Pension Fund is appealing to Congress to help solve its dire financial predicament.
U.S. Treasury rejects cuts to the Teamsters' pension fund

U.S. Treasury rejects cuts to the Teamsters' pension fund

The U.S. Treasury Department has rejected the deep retirement cuts sought by the ailing Teamsters Central States Pension Fund. The decision is a relief to thousands of retirees, who stood to see pension checks slashed.
Federal consumer protection bureau moves against forced arbitration in financial industry

Federal consumer protection bureau moves against forced arbitration in financial industry

Move by consumer protection bureau targets forced arbitration in the financial industry.
Minn. agencies fight the clock with new OT rules

Minn. agencies fight the clock with new OT rules

Human services groups ask for time to comply with new pay threshold.

Minnesotans join demonstrations as Supreme Court hears immigration case

Fifty people traveled by bus to join rallies outside the Supreme Court.
Rep. Tom Emmer's banking bill faces tough going in the Senate

Rep. Tom Emmer's banking bill faces tough going in the Senate

Critics say the measure would undermine oversight of banks, while he sees politics at play.
Crowds in Washington, D.C., Burnsville denounce Teamsters pension cuts

Crowds in Washington, D.C., Burnsville denounce Teamsters pension cuts

Groups protest against proposal that proponents say would save fund
Sen. Franken pushes Medtronic, FDA for Infuse study details

Sen. Franken pushes Medtronic, FDA for Infuse study details

Company has said review of its Infuse product did not reveal any new types of problems.
Question of risk: Medtronic's lost Infuse device study

Question of risk: Medtronic's lost Infuse device study

Medtronic collected data on thousands of patients given its Infuse device, uncovering complications. The problems went unreported for years – even as scrutiny intensified.
General Mills to start using GMO labeling nationwide

General Mills to start using GMO labeling nationwide

With Vermont's labeling law looming, the company said it needed to find a cost-effective solution.
Ban on state-level GMO labeling fails to advance in U.S. Senate

Ban on state-level GMO labeling fails to advance in U.S. Senate

Critics said the measure lacked a workable federal standard.
D.C. pushes new myRA savings plan

D.C. pushes new myRA savings plan

WASHINGTON – If you work for a business that offers no retirement benefits, Jacob Lew has a deal for you. The U.S. Treasury secretary…
Twin Cities included in Obama's new tech training program

Twin Cities included in Obama's new tech training program

Training programs at three Twin Cities facilities will expand as a result.
Report spurs calls for action to address rail-safety measures

Report spurs calls for action to address rail-safety measures

When a train derailed alongside the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota on Jan. 26, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz said it took 12 hours to find out the exact contents of six tanker cars that fell into the water.
Bill outlawing state GMO labeling laws passes Senate committee

Bill outlawing state GMO labeling laws passes Senate committee

Amy Klobuchar voted for the bill barring state mandates, but says it will need amendments to pass the whole Senate.
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