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 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.
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn.—Gov. Mark Dayton paused Tuesday before making an announcement. "Good Minnesota clean water..." he declared after drinking from a blue bottle at the Minnesota State Fair. "May we always keep it available." Dayton then asked every Minnesotan to take a pledge to care for the state's water. "It is something we can no longer take for granted," he said in front of the Department of Natural Resources' fair fish pond.
MORGAN, Minn.—Ruth Meirick was like most members of most farm families: There was too much work to do to worry about safety. Then, "it just happened." Her brother-in-law was moving a bale of hay and the tractor he was driving on a northeastern Iowa farm flipped over, killing him. "It only takes a second to make a bad decision and another second to have a consequence of that bad decision," Meirick said. "We have dealt with the consequences of having a death in my own family."
RED LAKE FALLS, Minn.—John Proulx learned his lesson, without a fireball. He was tipping over a tree while clearing land on his northwestern Minnesota farm when he heard a scraping sound. He knew he did not hit a rock with his end loader, and the thought crossed his mind that he may have hit an oil pipeline. He did. But he was lucky because it was just dented, not sliced open, which could have caused an explosion or spill. The Enbridge pipeline had to be shut down and fixed. "We thought we knew where it was," Proulx said.