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—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.
ST. PAUL—The 250,000 Minnesotans who buy their own health insurance face rate increases that state officials say are unacceptable. The state Commerce Department announced Friday, Sept. 30, that premiums are going up 50 percent to 67 percent in 2017. The rate increases do not affect those who get insurance through their employers or state programs such as MinnesotaCare.
ST. PAUL—A Minnesota-based beauty school abruptly has closed all 79 campuses across the country. Regency Beauty Institute schools included five, serving about 430 students, in Minnesota: Duluth, Blaine, Burnsville, Maplewood and St. Cloud. "It is with great sadness that we announce that after more than 50 years of educating cosmetology students, Regency Beauty Institute is permanently closing on September 28, 2016," the for-profit school said on its website Thursday, Sept. 29. "We are truly sorry for the abrupt nature of this information," Regency's website said.
ST. PAUL—Unionized home care attendants want the state to increase their base pay to $15 an hour and fund for more training, even as some of their colleague seek to disband the union. Contract talks with the state begin Friday, Sept. 30. Workers and their clients told reporters on Wednesday that the improvements are needed to stop a home care crisis. "People with disabilities are not receiving all of the care they need," Corey Van Denburgh said. "Our loved ones' health is being put at risk."
ST. PAUL—A conservative group says Minnesota's taxes are the 46th most competitive in the country. The Tax Foundation reported on Wednesday, Sept. 28, that when considering corporate, individual income, sales, property and unemployment insurance taxes, Minnesota finished near the last. Only Vermont, Washington, D.C., California, New York and New Jersey have worse business tax climates, the foundation reported.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans must be eager to vote in the Nov. 8 election. Nearly 47,000 registered to vote online last week, with about 27,000 on Friday, Sept. 23, alone, smashing the one-day record of 7,602. The big interest in registering, as well as early voting, bodes well for high voter turnout in the 2016 election. Secretary of State Steve Simon announced the figures on Monday, Sept. 26.
ST. PAUL—A new Minnesota presidential poll continues to show a closer contest than is common in the state, with Hillary Clinton up by 7 points. However, if Minnesota voters are like Americans in general, half were waiting for debates to begin to make up their minds. A just-released SurveyUSA poll from the Twin Cities' KSTP-TV indicates that if the election were held before the Monday, Sept. 26, opening presidential debate that 46 percent would vote for Democrat Clinton while 39 percent were behind Republican Trump.