More from the Homepage
Staff Directory 81726757

Jim Spencer

Washington Correspondent | Newsroom
phone: 202-383-6123
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
Meat labeling sparks debate over national sovereignty, free trade

Meat labeling sparks debate over national sovereignty, free trade

The U.S. court system upheld rules that require meatpackers to tell consumers where animals used in their products are born, raised and slaughtered. But the World Trade Organization may have killed the rules.

Minnesota senators remain opposed to 'fast-track' authority for Obama

Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken maintained their objection to the bill to give President Obama "fast track" trade negotiating authority before and after…
U.S. House ag panel votes to repeal beef, pork, poultry labeling rules

U.S. House ag panel votes to repeal beef, pork, poultry labeling rules

The U.S. requirement to disclose country of origin ran afoul of the World Trade Organization.
Rail industry and government struggle to balance safety, efficiency

Rail industry and government struggle to balance safety, efficiency

WASHINGTON – Bob Zelenka, executive director of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, sums up the current rail shipping conditions for Minnesota grain farmers…

Rail industry and government struggle to balance safety and efficiency in shipments

Regulators and railroads work to keep oil train restrictions from slowing down a system that has just started to move again.
Senate reverses course and allows fast track trade debate

Senate reverses course and allows fast track trade debate

Klobuchar and Franken vote no; others join Republicans to move trade promotion authority for Obama into discussion.
Senate looks to have deal to debate fast track

Senate looks to have deal to debate fast track

Senate votes should lead to negotiating authority on free trade agreement.
Senate Democrats break with Obama on key trade measure

Senate Democrats break with Obama on key trade measure

Klobuchar, Franken join in denying Obama in Senate.
New rules may make oil train info harder to get

New rules may make oil train info harder to get

New disclosure rules would require communities to request information.
Appeals court rejects case claiming Medtronic's Infuse device harmed patient

Appeals court rejects case claiming Medtronic's Infuse device harmed patient

Three-judge panel rules patient can’t sue over Medtronic device.
Regulators toughen safety standards for rail cars carrying Bakken crude

Regulators toughen safety standards for rail cars carrying Bakken crude

Worried about increasing oil train traffic, the U.S. and Canada ordered cars to have thicker shells, more insulation and better valve structures.
Rural phone woes persist in Minnesota, across the country

Rural phone woes persist in Minnesota, across the country

Critics claim that some cut-rate long distance routers moving calls in the middle of the nation’s telecommunications network simply do not connect rural calls to avoid expensive connection fees.
Minnesota's food expertise reaches across the ocean

Minnesota's food expertise reaches across the ocean

General Mills and Cargill workers are spearheading Partners in Food Solutions, an effort to improve food production and distribution in Africa.
Poor U.S. steel dumping sanctions add to Iron Range woes, politicians say

Poor U.S. steel dumping sanctions add to Iron Range woes, politicians say

Three state politicians say the industry is dragged down by poor regulation enforcement.

Teamsters pension trustees to pursue benefit cuts

Law co-sponsored by Rep. John Kline allows changes in multi-employer funds. Proposal for cuts was unveiled Wednesday.
Mayo researcher appeals for increased Alzheimer's funding

Mayo researcher appeals for increased Alzheimer's funding

Funding is seen as far short of what is needed to reduce the disease’s impact by 2025.
Reroute oil trains? History suggests it's a long shot

Reroute oil trains? History suggests it's a long shot

Industry says reinforced cars on current routes are better than trying to avoid heavily populated areas.
Minnesota congressional delegation split on fast-track trade measure

Minnesota congressional delegation split on fast-track trade measure

Fight over fast-track authority puts Republicans with Obama, Democrats against him.
Insurers UnitedHealth, Medica have stake in health subsidy decision

Insurers UnitedHealth, Medica have stake in health subsidy decision

Medica, UnitedHealth have big stake in Supreme Court health subsidy case
Minn. delegation slow to propose ways to pay for repeal of medical device tax

Minn. delegation slow to propose ways to pay for repeal of medical device tax

While many in the U.S. Senate and House pay lip service to ending the sales tax on medical devices that was instituted to help pay for national health care reform, no consensus exists about exactly how.
Obama administration again pushing for free trade agreements

Obama administration again pushing for free trade agreements

White House lists export gains by state, including Minnesota.

Minnesota companies travel to Washington to support Export-Import Bank

Minnesota companies say they need the financial help.

Business may be open to trading tax on overseas profits for tax reform

But if it has to happen, leaders of big businesses want other changes to the tax code as well.
Feb. 14: Minnesotans in Congress split over Keystone

Feb. 14: Minnesotans in Congress split over Keystone

The GOP controls Congress but lacks votes to override the president's veto.
Experts think Target will follow Wal-Mart's lead on raises

Experts think Target will follow Wal-Mart's lead on raises

If Target’s pay scale slips below Wal-Mart, the turnover in personnel could affect productivity and customer satisfaction.

Hormel, General Mills among food companies fighting label changes

Minnesota’s food giants are fighting an FDA proposal to list “added sugars” separately on nutrition labels.
Industry abandons lawsuit against meat origin labels

Industry abandons lawsuit against meat origin labels

Cargill and Hormel were part of trade groups seeking to avoid packages that say where animals are born, raised and slaughtered.
Medtronic pays $2.8M to settle off-label promotion charges

Medtronic pays $2.8M to settle off-label promotion charges

The devicemaker will pay $2.8 million after feds said it encouraged unapproved use of neurostimulation product.
Obama proposes tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations

Obama proposes tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations

President Obama wants to impose a one-time mandatory 14 percent tax on foreign profits that U.S. companies have stashed abroad, a move that would force Minnesota’s major companies to pay the government billions of dollars.

Mayo genetic data bank could boost Obama's new 'precision medicine initiative'

The president proposed a national initiative to help research, fight diseases.

Industry says device tax cost 4,500 jobs in 2014

Survey is at odds with other analyses that saw little change.
Congressional Research Service refutes device tax claims, puts tax foes in a bind

Congressional Research Service refutes device tax claims, puts tax foes in a bind

Conclusions differ sharply from the case the med-tech industry is making against the tax.
Minneapolis mayor says fixing income inequality is key to city's growth

Minneapolis mayor says fixing income inequality is key to city's growth

Mayor Betsy Hodges says city’s future as “majority minority” requires closing income gap.
Ex-UnitedHealth exec named acting Medicare chief

Ex-UnitedHealth exec named acting Medicare chief

Andy Slavitt led UnitedHealth’s Optum subsidiary.
Mayo fights stricter oversight of lab tests

Mayo fights stricter oversight of lab tests

Proposed FDA rules would require new premarket approval of certain diagnostic tests.
Cargill takes the lead in urging end to Cuba trade restrictions

Cargill takes the lead in urging end to Cuba trade restrictions

Cargill and the new U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba — more than two dozen trade associations representing virtually every crop and meat produced in the United States — have engaged Minnesotans in Congress for help.
Keystone XL pipeline poses a political dilemma

Keystone XL pipeline poses a political dilemma

Environmentalists dislike Keystone XL, but without it more oil trains could roll through Minnesota.
Paulsen touts device tax repeal as proof Congress can work together

Paulsen touts device tax repeal as proof Congress can work together

Rep. Erik Paulsen hopes Congress can negotiate a way to offset the lost revenue with health care savings.
BNSF must provide emergency coal delivery plans

BNSF must provide emergency coal delivery plans

BNSF fought order sought by power companies and politicians to address low stockpiles in Minnesota and surrounding states.
Meat industry prevails on Congress to roll back origin labeling rule

Meat industry prevails on Congress to roll back origin labeling rule

The change, and the fact that it was included in a spending bill, doesn’t sit well with some farmers.

U.S. agency sues U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo over losses

Regulator says banks failed to protect credit unions from bad mortgage-backed securities.
Watchdog group asks: How are you going to pay for that?

Watchdog group asks: How are you going to pay for that?

Deficit hawk says leadership now is key to avoiding painful entitlement cuts.

Members of Congress hold up to $39 million in Minnesota companies' stock

Questions inevitably arise, whether there are any conflicts of interest or not.
Utilities, railroads guardedly optimistic about coal deliveries

Utilities, railroads guardedly optimistic about coal deliveries

They worry that if weather turns harsh this winter, the rail system could be overtaxed
Rep. Kline's proposed cuts catch pensioners by surprise

Rep. Kline's proposed cuts catch pensioners by surprise

Minnesota Rep. John Kline’s push to get it into the omnibus budget bill needed to keep the government running has enraged retirees. The Republican says it's necessary to prevent insolvency.

Bar Association warns corporations: Clean up supply chains

Bar Association initiative focuses on human rights.
Minnesota paid $40B more to the feds than it got back in 2013

Minnesota paid $40B more to the feds than it got back in 2013

Minnesota ranks near the bottom in federal contracts, jobs, grants and benefits.
Minn. revenue growth third-fastest in country since before Recession

Minn. revenue growth third-fastest in country since before Recession

The state’s diversified corporate base serves as a hedge against revenue losses, Commissioner of Revenue Myron Frans said.
June 3: Feds point to Minnesota as example of how to cut greenhouse gases

June 3: Feds point to Minnesota as example of how to cut greenhouse gases

The EPA cited the state’s efforts as an example for others to follow as new regulations regarding greenhouse gases and clean energy goals are set.

For consumers, health care cost and quality information remains hard to find and understand

Getting basic information on costs and procedures remains a challenge in the Twin Cities.
Frenzel confronts Americans' fear of open markets

Frenzel confronts Americans' fear of open markets

Former U.S. representative who helped pass NAFTA calls it “the gold standard of trade treaties.”
Power plants worry about winter coal supplies

Power plants worry about winter coal supplies

After months of rail service problems, some utilities and elected officials say BNSF Railway needs to prove it has a plan to rebuild coal stockpiles.
Sugar makers fend off import threat

Sugar makers fend off import threat

Sugar producers, including the Minnesota sugar beet industry, back new limits on Mexican sugar that some say undermine NAFTA.
Feb. 2012: In Congress, no one beats the influential beet lobby

Feb. 2012: In Congress, no one beats the influential beet lobby

Consumers pay extra $1 billion per year because of government price supports for sugar, economists say.
With Republican Senate, many eye a device-tax repeal

With Republican Senate, many eye a device-tax repeal

Critics say a likely presidential veto means a repeal would come as part of a broader bill.
Minnesota companies shelter billions in cash from U.S. taxes

Minnesota companies shelter billions in cash from U.S. taxes

Foreign profits sit on sidelines as companies seek tax reform.
U.S. Bank tests ways to fight bias against long-term unemployed

U.S. Bank tests ways to fight bias against long-term unemployed

U.S. Bank is piloting a federal program that tackles an ugly legacy of the recession – a hiring bias against the long-term unemployed.
U.S. places new student debt rules on for-profit colleges

U.S. places new student debt rules on for-profit colleges

To keep federal aid, for-profit colleges’ graduates’ debt repayments must be less than 8 percent of total earnings.

Optum buys Alere, provider of wellness services, for $600M

The deal will increase parent UnitedHealth’s business with health insurance exchanges.

WTO meat labeling rule invites backlash from U.S. interest groups

Consumer groups, foreign and domestic producers are at odds over new labeling measures.
New reports on backlogs bring renewed criticism of railroads

New reports on backlogs bring renewed criticism of railroads

Critics say they prove oil favoritism; railroads say numbers are misleading.
Cargill disputes link to child slavery claims on Ivory Coast cocoa farms

Cargill disputes link to child slavery claims on Ivory Coast cocoa farms

Minnesota-based ag giant wants court to overrule decision that connects it to Ivory Coast farms that used child labor.
Klobuchar praises end of Canadian Pacific-CSX merger talks

Klobuchar praises end of Canadian Pacific-CSX merger talks

Minnesota’s senior U.S. senator had criticized potential deal in light of rail-shipment delays.
Cybersecurity changes, beefed-up identity theft protection coming

Cybersecurity changes, beefed-up identity theft protection coming

Federal agencies will adopt “chip and PIN” cards, providing a boost for anti-hacking technology.
Klobuchar urges inquiry of proposed rail merger

Klobuchar urges inquiry of proposed rail merger

Reported talks between Canadian Pacific, CSX led to a quick reply from Klobuchar, who says shipping delays are costing millions.
Class-action suit over Infuse could put Medtronic-Covidien deal at risk

Class-action suit over Infuse could put Medtronic-Covidien deal at risk

The class-action lawsuit over Infuse bone implant advances, may hurt $43B Covidien deal.
Medtronic shareholder sues over plan to pay execs' taxes

Medtronic shareholder sues over plan to pay execs' taxes

The company plans to cover taxes executives will incur from its takeover of Covidien. But a plaintiff calls the decision by senior managers and the Medtronic board self-serving.
Dairy Queen says 395 stores hit by August cyberattacks

Dairy Queen says 395 stores hit by August cyberattacks

Edina-based company says 18 stores in Minnesota were affected in the cyberattack.
Thousands fewer companies than expected pay medical device tax

Thousands fewer companies than expected pay medical device tax

Opponents of the tax, including big med-tech companies, are continuing efforts to kill it.
Export-Import Bank lives to lend on borrowed time

Export-Import Bank lives to lend on borrowed time

The government-run bank got a nine-month reprieve after a fierce attack from Tea Party Republicans.
Pawlenty-led group's campaign ends in controversy

Pawlenty-led group's campaign ends in controversy

Big banks reportedly asked the former Minnesota governor’s lobbying group to back off.
Minnesota farmers beg officials to fix rail problems

Minnesota farmers beg officials to fix rail problems

Price of shipping cars explodes as deliveries remain uncertain.
Cargill sues Syngenta Seed over China shipments

Cargill sues Syngenta Seed over China shipments

The company said it lost $90 million after corn grown from genetically modified Syngenta seed was refused by China.
Treasury decision could scuttle Medtronic-Covidien deal

Treasury decision could scuttle Medtronic-Covidien deal

In speech, Treasury Secretary Lew calls for strong action against pending deals like Medtronic’s.

Time running out for doctors to dispute device and drug makers' disclosures to feds

Sept. 10 is the deadline for doctors to dispute info.
Sponsored Links
From Around the Web
More from Star Tribune
Top Stories
Most Read