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—The two major presidential candidates appear to agree on something. Hillary Clinton: "America's rural communities lie at the heart of what makes this country great." Donald Trump: "Growing our farm sector and supporting our nation's farmers are absolutely critical steps to making America great again." The two short quotes from Democrat Clinton and Republican Trump are more than most Americans hear about rural issues in the campaign, so the two apparently agree that rural issues are not critical enough to their chances on Nov. 8 to talk about them much.
ST. PAUL—"The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people." Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton had not even finished the sentence when political reporters knew they had a story. After all, Dayton has been a strong proponent of the federal health care law, better known as Obamacare, and pushed to establish a state online health insurance sales portal. That MNsure operation is Minnesotans' connection to Obamacare.
ST. PAUL—Workers have replaced nearly 6,000 deteriorated marble pieces on the Minnesota Capitol building's outside walls as part of a comprehensive $310 million inside and outside renovation project. They also made about 20,000 other repairs to the exterior. The marble work wrapped up in the past week when the final new marble piece was placed in an arch above the building's main entrance. The replacement was a milestone as work begins to wrap up in anticipation of the Capitol's Jan. 3 reopening.
ST. PAUL—Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton do not talk much about rural issues on the campaign trail, but there is plenty of evidence showing they differ greatly on the subject. Trump generally buys into traditional Republican ideas and Clinton embraces Democratic principles. And perhaps nothing illustrates the contrast better than how they stand on federal government regulations, an issue common among farmers and miners, energy workers and homeowners. Both sides say they will work with those who affected by regulations, but that is about where the agreement ends.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson, co-chairman of the council, said there is no one-size-fits-all solution. "I believe that all policing is done at the neighborhood level," Johnson said. "What works in one neighborhood may not work in another neighborhood. Having said that, I don't think this stuff is all that complicated."
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's governor says a President Barack Obama inspired health-care law needs work. "The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people," Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday, Oct. 12, while encouraging state and federal lawmakers to make changes. Soaring health insurance costs are a "very serious problem," Dayton told reporters seeking reaction to his administration's recent announcement that individual health insurance policies' premiums will jump 50 percent to 67 percent next year.
ST. PAUL—Presidential candidate Donald Trump's comments containing crude comments about women convinced many Minnesota Republicans to denounce him during the weekend, but his Sunday night, Oct. 9, debate performance apparently was good enough to stop the defections, at least for now. Some of the state's GOP leaders dropped their support of Trump, with a few calling for him to drop out of the race, but other Republicans decried the comments he made 11 years ago about groping women but still support his candidacy.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton has authorized $3.3 million to six Minnesota counties and three American Indian reservations for damage sustained in July storms. Dayton announced on Tuesday, Oct. 4, that money will go to governments to spend on damage to their facilities, not private property, that occurred July 19 to July 21 by thunderstorms, high winds and flooding in Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Lake and St. Louis counties.
ST. PAUL—A new study raises the question about whether rural communities actually grow because of broadband. "It may not be having the effect you want," one of the Oklahoma State University authors of an academic paper said. The paper, in a Southern Regional Science Association publication, indicated that increasing broadband high-speed Internet connectivity may improve rural residents' ability to see job opportunities elsewhere. Entrepreneurs and others may move out of their rural communities after using the Internet, the study indicates.
ST. PAUL—Loni Kemp is an example of what farmers and other self-employed Minnesotans face: an ever-increasing health insurance bill and no way to get around it. The 63-year-old consultant, who lives in southeast Minnesota's Canton, said that in 2015 she and her husband had a family insurance plan costing $18,000 annually.