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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
Tax reform could add up to billions for Minnesota's biggest companies

Tax reform could add up to billions for Minnesota's biggest companies

Minnesota's biggest companies would see billions in relief – but what about workers?
Efforts pushing alternatives to four-year degree slow to catch on

Efforts pushing alternatives to four-year degree slow to catch on

As well-paying posts in manufacturing and trades go begging, the American dream of a bachelor's degree dies so hard that public officials find themselves in a culture war.
GOP tax overhaul takes aim at widely used deductions

GOP tax overhaul takes aim at widely used deductions

Deductions on one-third of federal returns filed from Minnesota are on the chopping block.
Cargill gets praise for recruiting and supporting military vets and reservists

Cargill gets praise for recruiting and supporting military vets and reservists

The agribusiness giant has earned praise for recruiting and supporting veterans and reservists.
North Dakota oil sees hurricane-related bump in prices

North Dakota oil sees hurricane-related bump in prices

The energy reporting website Platts recently noted that "the Bakken crude differential in Clearbrook, Minnesota, soared to its highest level in four years."
Stretched for workers, Minn. businesses lament immigration pushback

Stretched for workers, Minn. businesses lament immigration pushback

Labor projections suggest the state needs to increase, not cut, legal immigration.
After others exit, Xcel CEO Fowke opts to stay with presidential panel

After others exit, Xcel CEO Fowke opts to stay with presidential panel

Benjamin Fowke called work on the security of infrastructure of "paramount importance."
Cargill receives award for treatment of reservists, National Guard members

Cargill receives award for treatment of reservists, National Guard members

Minnetonka-based ag giant honored for treatment of employees in military.
Stay or go? 3M CEO among executives under pressure to leave Trump advisory group

Stay or go? 3M CEO among executives under pressure to leave Trump advisory group

Social media campaigns called out business leaders who remain on two key panels.
For digital trade advocates, all eyes on NAFTA

For digital trade advocates, all eyes on NAFTA

U.S. exit from the TPP erased breakthrough internet measures.
Minnesota retailers played big role in thwarting border tax

Minnesota retailers played big role in thwarting border tax

Lobbying efforts by Best Buy and Target in the first six months of 2017 rivaled what they did for all of 2016. The financial numbers, drawn from government records, show the Minnesota companies' determination to kill a border adjustment tax on imports sought by the House GOP.
Border adjustment tax dropped from GOP budget plans

Border adjustment tax dropped from GOP budget plans

GOP budget drops the tax that Target CEO called "an unproven and untested theory."

U.S. House votes to roll back CFPB rule on mandatory arbitration

If repealed, consumers would lose a choice of options for certain financial grievances.
Trade watchers wary as Minnesota politicians support steel tariffs

Trade watchers wary as Minnesota politicians support steel tariffs

A tariff on imported steel that President Donald Trump says will shore up the sagging U.S. steel industry enjoys growing political popularity in Minnesota, even as those who specialize in trade policy warn that it could injure other critical parts of the state's economy.
U.S. House passes bill to lengthen time to report medical device malfunctions

U.S. House passes bill to lengthen time to report medical device malfunctions

U.S. House measure would allow more time for them to be sent to the FDA.

Regulator moves against mandatory arbitration agreements

Credit card companies and banks can't force arbitration for grievances.
Delay in revamped nutrition labels shows clout of nation's food lobby

Delay in revamped nutrition labels shows clout of nation's food lobby

Advocates believe consumers won't get needed information.
Minn. among 19 suing DeVos over delay in student loan forgiveness

Minn. among 19 suing DeVos over delay in student loan forgiveness

Refusing at the last minute to implement rules that were years in the making is "whipsawing students who deserve better," Lori Swanson said.
Medtronic nears resolution of its Infuse lawsuits

Medtronic nears resolution of its Infuse lawsuits

Medtronic did not release figures for the confidential settlements. The company reported that it set aside $300 million for all of its legal settlements in the fiscal year that ended in April, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Minnesota health CEOs say Senate bill will 'seriously undermine' care

Minnesota health CEOs say Senate bill will 'seriously undermine' care

Leaders in Minnesota's health care community called the Senate Republican health care reform bill disappointing because of the GOP's continued insistence on significantly cutting Medicaid.
Hospitals fear health plan changes will add up to big losses

Hospitals fear health plan changes will add up to big losses

Executives predict big losses from Trump's budget or the Republicans' AHCA.
Trump's pushback on NAFTA has the attention of Minnesota's economy

Trump's pushback on NAFTA has the attention of Minnesota's economy

President Trump's vow to renegotiate the trade pact with Canada and Mexico could have big impact on Minnesota's economy.
Burnsville mayor among those speaking out against Paris climate pact exit

Burnsville mayor among those speaking out against Paris climate pact exit

Elizabeth Kautz, a Republican and former mayor's conference president, broke sharply from her Republican colleagues in Washington.
Big Minnesota companies among Paris pact supporters

Big Minnesota companies among Paris pact supporters

Among them are some of the biggest names in the state: Cargill, 3M, Target, Best Buy and General Mills.
Advisory board backs dissident slate for Buffalo Wild Wings board

Advisory board backs dissident slate for Buffalo Wild Wings board

The endorsement bolsters activist investor Marcato Capital Management's bid to shake up the company.
Target CEO says import tax bets 'paychecks on an untested theory'

Target CEO says import tax bets 'paychecks on an untested theory'

Proponents of the border adjustment told Congress it would aid U.S. manufacturing.
Target CEO Brian Cornell to testify in DC against import tax

Target CEO Brian Cornell to testify in DC against import tax

Proposed rule could drive price increases for retailers.
Consumer watchdog that has helped thousands of Minnesotans now faces uncertain future

Consumer watchdog that has helped thousands of Minnesotans now faces uncertain future

A fierce debate is underway in Washington over whether to restructure the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau or perhaps eliminate it.
Minnesota's economy grew slower than U.S. in 2016

Minnesota's economy grew slower than U.S. in 2016

Growth rates throughout the Upper Midwest lagged most other regions of the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
3M says pension plan is under U.S. Labor Department investigation

3M says pension plan is under U.S. Labor Department investigation

The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating certain investments, expenses, loans and distributions made by 3M's pension plan, the company revealed this week in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
GOP health bill could boost costs for those in employer-provided plans

GOP health bill could boost costs for those in employer-provided plans

Groups representing health-care consumers are decidedly against the legislation, which could mean changes for employers plans, too.

Medtronic executive presses Congress to changes in FDA plant inspections

Current process is too "erratic," Medtronic exec tells Congress.
Minnesota businesses think tax cut could spur investment

Minnesota businesses think tax cut could spur investment

The omission of a so-called "border adjustment" tax is good news for Target, Best Buy, Polaris and others.
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.
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