Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL—Agreement is at hand, it would appear, about a flare-up over a state agency's officials taking family members and others to watch Minnesota Vikings games for free.
ST. PAUL—What happens in Washington doesn't stay in Washington. A new president and a stronger Republican Congress are expected to make major changes in the federal budget, which Minnesota state budget writers said on Friday, Dec. 2, will affect their work. But they do not know how. "There is probably more than the usual range of uncertainty here," said Chairman Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, of the House Ways and Means Committee as state officials reacted to news of a projected $1.4 billion budget surplus.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton walked out of a meeting he chairs Tuesday, Nov. 29, over a battle about whether Civil War paintings should hang in his office. "It has been a deeply distressing issue for me," Dayton said, claiming Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, wishes to return six paintings to the governor's office once the state Capitol building restoration finishes next year is rooted in political ambitions.
ST. PAUL—Soaring insurance premiums apparently jolted Minnesotans into seeking federal aid to pay for their policies. The state's health insurance marketplace, MNsure, announced on Tuesday, Nov. 29, that the number of Minnesotans getting financial aid for 2017 policies tripled over this year. Rural Minnesotans especially benefit from the aid, which comes from the federal government, MNsure Allison O'Toole said in a Forum News Service interview.
ST. PAUL—The Nov. 8 election was unpredictable and the 2017 Minnesota Legislature likely will be, too. GOP candidates took many by surprise, including some fellow Republicans, and took over the state Senate. The GOP held a Senate majority in 2011-2012, but because of the election calendar this time it will be for four years, unless a Republican leaves office early.
ST. PAUL—Rural Minnesotans are happy, to a point. They are optimistic, to a point. They see local jobs available, to a point. "It is kind of a mixed bag," Executive Director Brad Finstad of the Center for Rural Policy and Development said.
WASHINGTON—Many American farmers are thankful today for an Obama administration decision to boost the amount of renewable fuels, such as made from corn and soybeans, in the country's gasoline and diesel supply. The Wednesday, Nov. 23 announcement was a turnaround for the Environmental Protection Agency, which earlier planned to require less renewable fuel to be mixed with gas and diesel.
MINNEAPOLIS—An oil pipeline protester was recovering in a Minneapolis hospital Tuesday, Nov. 22, after her arm was seriously injured during a confrontation between pipeline opponents and law enforcement officers. Injuries sustained by Sophia Wilansky, 21, of New York prompted thousands of people donated money for her recovery, which was underway at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Within 19 hours of a gofundme site being established, 8,000 people had combined to give more than $220,000.
ST. PAUL—Turkey talk turned thoughtful Monday, Nov. 21, as a hunger fighter said she worries about feeding Minnesotans. Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota said the number of people in the state using food shelves has reached an all-time high, and now she is concerned about discussion in Washington to remove funding from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. "I am very worried," she said during the governor's office annual ceremony denoting Thanksgiving week and honoring the state's 450 turkey farmers.
ST. PAUL — The 2016 election still looms large in Minnesota's rear-view mirror so, of course, it is time for the 2018 campaign to begin. And it has. The first big name out of the gate was Ryan Winkler, a Bemidji native who for years served in the state House serving the Golden Valley area. He said he would run for attorney general if incumbent Lori Swanson doesn't. Both are Democrats. Swanson's name is being batted around for governor, to replace Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who says he will leave office when his term is up early in 2019.