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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
Going digital: Device makers chase fast-growing, data-driven market

Going digital: Device makers chase fast-growing, data-driven market

Companies big and small are looking to carve out a chunk of the hot sector.
Minnesota has seen 75 percent rise in H-1B visa requests since 2012

Minnesota has seen 75 percent rise in H-1B visa requests since 2012

Mayo Clinic, U and Medtronic among top employers in state for visa fillings.
Compass Airlines to move flight operations from Twin Cities to West Coast

Compass Airlines to move flight operations from Twin Cities to West Coast

Compass Airlines, a contract carrier which flies for Delta as Delta Connection, will move its flight operations to the West Coast from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, taking more than 100 Twin Cities-based jobs with it.

Medical device trade group remains upbeat on tax repeal prospects

AdvaMed wants to end Obamacare's 2.5% levy.
Minn. senators hope anger will drive support for bill to curb drug costs

Minn. senators hope anger will drive support for bill to curb drug costs

Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar hope the timing is right for a major consumer bill.

That trade group endorsement? Not all members may be on board

Member views often diverge in the heat of a lobbying battle.
Does Neil Gorsuch's nomination portend shift in balance between judges, regulators?

Does Neil Gorsuch's nomination portend shift in balance between judges, regulators?

While the arcane precedent recognizing the right of civil servants to write policies that implement U.S. laws may sound boring, sacking it, as Gorsuch has suggested, will resonate for businesses and citizens across the country.
Older, poorer Minnesotans would lose most under GOP plan

Older, poorer Minnesotans would lose most under GOP plan

Minnesotans who are older and less affluent would get significantly fewer tax credits from the new Republican national health care plan, according to a new analysis.

Minnesota regulators feel caught in middle as Feds pare rules

WASHINGTON – Last week, the U.S. Senate killed a rule that in part required federal contractors to report and correct safety violations in order…
Gretchen Carlson says ending mandatory arbitration now 'my mission'

Gretchen Carlson says ending mandatory arbitration now 'my mission'

At the U.S. Senate, the former Fox News anchor talks of sexual harassment case and the inability to go to trial.
Medical device makers stand to gain if Neil Gorsuch approved for Supreme Court

Medical device makers stand to gain if Neil Gorsuch approved for Supreme Court

The state's device makers stand to gain if Supreme Court nominee confirmed.
Review: 'The Hearts of Men,' by Nickolas Butler

Review: 'The Hearts of Men,' by Nickolas Butler

FICTION: Saga follows several flawed characters through a Wisconsin Boy Scout camp, war and adulthood.
Trump name-checks 'Tar-zhay' in meeting with Target, Best Buy CEOs

Trump name-checks 'Tar-zhay' in meeting with Target, Best Buy CEOs

President Trump called the meeting 'a great listening session,' and said a tax proposal would be coming soon.
Target, Best Buy CEOs to meet with Trump on tax plan

Target, Best Buy CEOs to meet with Trump on tax plan

The retail industry argues that a border adjustment tax would be costly for consumers.
U law prof Richard Painter sues Trump over ethics

U law prof Richard Painter sues Trump over ethics

Richard Painter has yet to become the subject of a Donald Trump tweet. That’s fine with the University of Minnesota law professor. On the other…
Mexican import tax would be dire for Minnesota industry, trade experts say

Mexican import tax would be dire for Minnesota industry, trade experts say

Mexican import tax could severely harm agriculture sector.
Minnesota ag companies sign on to letter touting NAFTA gains to Trump

Minnesota ag companies sign on to letter touting NAFTA gains to Trump

WASHINGTON – Minnesota-based Cargill, Land O’Lakes and CHS Inc. have joined more than 100 agriculture-related companies and trade associations to sing the praises of…
Trump's tough trade stance gets mixed reviews among business leaders in Minnesota

Trump's tough trade stance gets mixed reviews among business leaders in Minnesota

Deals with Minnesota's top foreign partners upended.
Immense crowds in Washington, elsewhere protest Trump over women's rights

Immense crowds in Washington, elsewhere protest Trump over women's rights

Millions rally in historic protests against Trump.
Minnesotans in Congress split by party in reaction to Trump speech

Minnesotans in Congress split by party in reaction to Trump speech

Minn. Republicans in DC strike upbeat note, but Democrats hear little to like from Trump
Feds' suit says TCF tricked customers on overdraft fees

Feds' suit says TCF tricked customers on overdraft fees

Lawsuit cites $35 service fee to cover each overdraft. The bank said it has treated customers fairly and will defend itself against the allegations.

Dim outlook for expanded overtime pay

Trump administration has made its opposition clear.
Paulsen takes aim at medical device tax again and is ready for success

Paulsen takes aim at medical device tax again and is ready for success

With GOP in control, his chances look excellent.
Charlie Weaver: Business gets ready to find its voice in a new administration

Charlie Weaver: Business gets ready to find its voice in a new administration

Charlie Weaver got a sense of the new world order when he found himself begging Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House to vote for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Minnesota AG sues Volkswagen over tampered vehicles

Minnesota AG sues Volkswagen over tampered vehicles

The suit follows a $11.5 million fraud settlement that the state reached with the automaker.
St. Louis court clears way for first Infuse jury trial

St. Louis court clears way for first Infuse jury trial

The judge's ruling could make sealed records public, where they would be available for additional cases.
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.
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