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—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton declared a special legislative session dead just more than a month ago, but on Thursday, Sept. 22, legislative and executive branch staff members gather to discuss bringing legislators back this fall. The governor raised the possibility of resurrecting special session talks during a late-August State Fair interview and talked to House Speaker Kurt Daudt about it over breakfast earlier this month. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars in public works projects, including road work, and tax breaks for many Minnesotans.
ST. PAUL—Rural Minnesota wind and solar farms likely will provide a third of the electricity for the state's 23-building Capitol complex near downtown St. Paul. State and Xcel Energy officials on Wednesday, Sept. 21, announced a 20-year deal to use power from North Star Solar Project in Chisago County and Odell Wind Warm in Cottonwood, Jackson, Martin, and Watonwan counties. Before the deal takes effect, it must be approved by the state Commerce Department and the Public Utilities Commission. State officials say the support is expected early in 2017.
ST. CLOUD, Minn.—No link has emerged between terrorist groups and the man who stabbed nine people in a St. Cloud mall Saturday night, Sept. 17. St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson told reporters Monday that he will let the public know quickly if investigators find a connection between the suspect in the stabbings, identified by fellow Somali-Americans as Dahir Anad, and terrorist groups such as ISIS. An ISIS-related news agency called Anad a soldier of the organization, but did not indicate he had prior contact with it.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota is about to increase its campaign warning about the dangers of pain killers known as opioids. State officials also plan to work with medical and pharmaceutical professionals about the risks of overprescribing the drugs. The state announced Monday, Sept. 19, it is receiving $2.5 million from the federal government to fight heroin and prescribed pain killers such as morphine, codeine, methadone, OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Fentanyl and buprenorphine. Federal and state officials say dependence on those drugs is increasing.
ST. PAUL—A new Minnesota Poll shows Donald Trump closing Hilary Clinton's lead in the state, which mirrors national polls showing the presidential race tightening. The Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll indicates Clinton would receive 44 percent of the vote and Trump 38 percent if the election were held now. North Dakota native Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico governor, received 12 percent support, although more than a quarter of those surveyed said they did not know who he is.
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn.—The Minnesota State Fair is known for food on a stick, but one woman promoted food that may eat sticks: Bugs. "I know it might sound gross initially, but trust me it is quite tasty," Kiah Brasch told fair audiences. The woman from Roseville, near the fairgrounds, said that at first she had a hard time because of "the ick factor." But after a couple of tries, she got over it. "This lady over here is eating a cricket burger," she said, pointing to some pictures. "This little girl is eating chocolate covered crickets."
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn.—Chickens in cages draw reactions. Kent Campos and Abby Gross looked at a new Minnesota State Fair display called the Hen House and drew different conclusions. "It looks like there are a lot of them in there," Campos said. "They are kind of climbing over each other." Asked if it bothered him, he responded: "A little bit I guess. I would prefer they are not like that." On the other hand, the caged birds did not bother Gross.
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn.—Farmers today are not your grandfather's farmers. Minnesota State Fair visitors learn that when they stop in the Farm Bureau booth and actually talk to a real, live farmer. "We are getting a lot of fair goers who have never met a farmer," Nicole Krumrie said. "It is eye opening to them that they are not the typical American Gothic style picture when they see a farmer. But we are just real people like they are."
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn.—A message from a Black Lives Matter Minnesota State Fair booth is that people throughout the state can learn from actions the organization takes in the Twin Cities. As Todd Gramenz of St. Paul mans his booth, where he sells T-shirts with inscriptions such as "Hands up don't shoot," he hears from people around Minnesota who say that Black Lives Matter has inspired them to discuss race. "It is very touching to me to know that people actually are doing these things around the state," he said.
ST. PAUL—A group of American Indians whose ancestors rescued whites during an 1862 Indian war want to collect on a federal government promise of a 12-square-mile tract in west-central Minnesota. The six people, seeking the land for about 20,000 Mdewakanton Sioux Indians, on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue. They have fought the federal government and people who settled the land since 2003, with the high court rejecting earlier requests to consider a related case.