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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

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.

Cardiovascular Systems CEO leaving company to focus on cancer treatments

Board chairman will remain interim chief during search for successor.

Teamsters fund cuts would hurt 14,800 in Minn., new report says

An advocacy group says the cuts would shrink payments by tens of millions in the state. Pension officials dispute the report.
Minnesota vows to move ahead with clean power

Minnesota vows to move ahead with clean power

Despite a Supreme Court stay on EPA rules, Minnesota says it will develop plans to limit carbon and pursue energy initiatives

State Department official heads to Twin Cities to pitch trade pact

State Department official aims to build support for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Critics see accountability risk if FDA rule changes take hold

The plan may limit the legal powers of patients.
Minnesota leaders pushing feds to preserve Tokyo route

Minnesota leaders pushing feds to preserve Tokyo route

Delta Air Lines, which inherited the route in its 2009 merger with Northwest Airlines, warned two weeks ago that it is at risk because of changes at a Tokyo airport being negotiated by U.S. and Japanese authorities.
Device experiment program saves lives, speeds products to market

Device experiment program saves lives, speeds products to market

The Mayo Clinic is part of a plan to get devices to market faster.
Food industry mounts last-ditch effort to block state GMO labeling laws

Food industry mounts last-ditch effort to block state GMO labeling laws

The nation's food and farm industries are mounting a furious, last-ditch push against mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms, with dozens of Minnesota businesses backing the effort as part of a national coalition.
Unregulated legal weapons sales in state challenge Obama

Unregulated legal weapons sales in state challenge Obama

As President Obama tries to more closely regulate gun sales, hundreds of handguns remain legally available in Minnesota with no scrutiny or disclosures and no change in sight.
U.S. Supreme Court passes on Medtronic Infuse case

U.S. Supreme Court passes on Medtronic Infuse case

Woman had sought to sue Medtronic for injuries she said were due to non-FDA-approved use of bone-graft product.
Minn. medical device firms spent millions to get tax to go away

Minn. medical device firms spent millions to get tax to go away

State's medical device firms see tax suspension as a win.
Road to free trade agreement vote just keeps getting longer

Road to free trade agreement vote just keeps getting longer

The path to passage of the country's largest free trade agreement just keeps getting longer.
Travel industry scrambles to limit impact of changes to visa program

Travel industry scrambles to limit impact of changes to visa program

Proposed changes to tighten the visa program could create a $5.4 billion hit to tourism in the U.S.

Medical device tax would be suspended for two years in federal deal

The medical tech industry praised the legislation.
Deep pension cuts loom for 14,800 Minnesotans

Deep pension cuts loom for 14,800 Minnesotans

To save the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund from collapse, trustees want to slash the pensions of fund members.
Plaintiff asks Supreme Court to take on case involving Medtronic's Infuse

Plaintiff asks Supreme Court to take on case involving Medtronic's Infuse

A plaintiff is hoping for a day in court to argue that Medtronic should be held accountable for her spinal injuries. But she will need a decision by the United States Supreme Court to get it.
Rep. Tom Emmer in the middle of fight over financial oversight group

Rep. Tom Emmer in the middle of fight over financial oversight group

Rep. Tom Emmer is pushing for changes in government control of big institutions.
Mayo lobbies U.S. panel to accept noninvasive colon cancer test

Mayo lobbies U.S. panel to accept noninvasive colon cancer test

Doctor says noninvasive cancer kit "could save tens of thousands of lives."

Medtronic sees little impact from new Treasury rules for relocated U.S. companies

The regulations aim to keep companies from leaving the U.S. for low-tax foreign countries.
Likely new FDA chief promises new medical device reporting system

Likely new FDA chief promises new medical device reporting system

At a Senate confirmation hearing, Dr. Robert Califf revealed his plan to improve reporting.
GOP presidential hopefuls shine light on sugar program

GOP presidential hopefuls shine light on sugar program

As Ted Cruz attacks, Minnesota beet farmers worry the federal program will be misunderstood.
Minn. congressional delegation sticks to party line on Keystone reaction

Minn. congressional delegation sticks to party line on Keystone reaction

Republicans and one Democrat decry loss of jobs, as most Democrats tout commitment to clean energy.

Senate reverses field, dumps water rule but veto looms

The resolution passed, but its support was short of a veto-proof majority.
Government launches new crackdown on illegal debt collection

Government launches new crackdown on illegal debt collection

Effort to stop bullying, collection of nonexistent "zombie debt."
U.S. Senate blocks move to rewrite water rules

U.S. Senate blocks move to rewrite water rules

Procedural vote to close debate on changes to new clean water rules fails.
Franken stumps to end "forced arbitration"

Franken stumps to end "forced arbitration"

The senator says contracts for things like credit cards shouldn't be able to take away a user's right to sue.
St. Paul VA official takes the Fifth before House committee

St. Paul VA official takes the Fifth before House committee

A frustrated House panel receives no answers from Kimberly Graves over misconduct allegation.
Medicare delays new prosthetics rules

Medicare delays new prosthetics rules

Minnesota amputees protested the issue, which will get a new look in '16.
House backs Ex-Im Bank with rare bipartisan maneuver

House backs Ex-Im Bank with rare bipartisan maneuver

A rare maneuver backed by members in both parties sends the measure to the Senate.
Effort to reauthorize Export-Import Bank faces key vote in Congress

Effort to reauthorize Export-Import Bank faces key vote in Congress

It's been closed since July, but a rare congressional move gives it new hope

Minneapolis bar owner appeals to Congress for relief from serial disability suits

Businesses urge Congress to rein in serial lawsuits alleging violations of disabilities act.
U.S. sugar industry prevails in fight over restrictions on Mexican imports

U.S. sugar industry prevails in fight over restrictions on Mexican imports

WASHINGTON – The U.S. sugar industry, including Minnesota’s nation-leading sugar beet producers, won a regulatory marathon Tuesday as the federal government gave final approval…
General Mills, Best Buy, Target commit to White House climate initiative

General Mills, Best Buy, Target commit to White House climate initiative

General Mills, Best Buy and Target joined dozens of other major U.S. companies Monday in backing efforts to reach a global climate deal at upcoming talks in Paris.
Regulatory pact with major collectors should ease debtors' legal hassles

Regulatory pact with major collectors should ease debtors' legal hassles

Charice Goude of Brooklyn Center knew she had to pay back her overdue credit card bill. She just did not want to pay it back twice.

Court strikes down Minnesota sprinkler rule for new homes

The Department of Labor could appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
Minnesota amputees seek help in Congress to overturn Medicare limits on prosthetics

Minnesota amputees seek help in Congress to overturn Medicare limits on prosthetics

Their access to certain prosthetics is in jeopardy without Congress' help.
Review: 'The Guise of Another,' by Allen Eskens

Review: 'The Guise of Another,' by Allen Eskens

FICTION: A Minneapolis detective tries to restore his good name after his task force is accused of theft.
U.S. finishes trade deal with 11 Pacific countries; Minnesotans split in support

U.S. finishes trade deal with 11 Pacific countries; Minnesotans split in support

The Trans-Pacific Partnership divides Minnesota caucus in Congress along party lines.
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