Opinion: Cheers to solid Minnesota growth
Cheers to Minnesota, which has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, according to a study by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The U.S. Commerce Department bureau said Minnesota tied California for fifth place in growth of gross domestic product last year, based on data for durable-goods manufacturing, construction, mining, agriculture, wholesale trade, and finance and insurance.
GDP for Minnesota and California climbed 3.5 percent in 2012, compared with a national average of 2.5 percent. The total value of Minnesota’s GDP was $253 billion, which ranked 17th nationally.
“Minnesota continues to outpace much of the rest of the nation in economic growth and recovery,” said Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “We are experiencing healthy growth across several sectors, creating new jobs for Minnesota workers and new opportunities for Minnesota businesses.”
Minnesota also has one of the country’s lowest unemployment rates, ranking 11th nationally in April at 5.3 percent.
The Twin Cities, the state’s major economic engine, had the second-lowest unemployment rate among major U.S. metropolitan areas in April at 4.9 percent.
Oil-rich North Dakota had the fastest-growing economy in 2012, with a GDP growth of 13.4 percent.
Texas was second with 4.8 percent growth, followed by Oregon (3.9 percent) and Washington (3.6 percent).
Minnesota may not have the rapid growth of the oil states, but it appears its strategy of investing tax dollars in education and services continues to pay off.
Cheers to a bipartisan group of senators, including Minnesota’s Al Franken, who are pushing new legislation to bring greater transparency to federal surveillance programs.
Their bill would require the Attorney General to make public as much information as possible about the significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court legal opinions justifying the surveillance programs that have recently come to light.
“There needs to be a balance between Americans’ right to privacy and the government’s responsibility to keep Americans safe,” said Franken.
“And ensuring that the court overseeing surveillance programs is as transparent as possible is a key step toward reaching that balance. This legislation will help make the process more open to the American people and to the people of Minnesota.”
Franken has long called for greater transparency and privacy protections for surveillance programs carried out under the PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In 2011 and 2012, he voted against reauthorizing these laws after efforts to increase transparency and oversight failed.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is a special U.S. federal court tasked with authorizing requests for surveillance both inside and outside the United States. Because of the sensitive nature of these requests, the FISC opinions are not made public.
The bill accommodates for national security concerns,while bringing some much-needed sunlight into federal surveillance programs.