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—Election day may be Tuesday, but 568,196 Minnesotans already have voted. That is the word this morning from the secretary of state's office and represents the most early voters ever. This is the first presidential election in which a state no-excuse, early-voting law is in effect. The figure represents the absentee vote count plus mail-in ballots used in some rural predicts.
ST. PAUL—The Nov. 8 election will be rare. The big difference from other elections, obvious to anyone paying attention, is two unpopular presidential candidates sit at atop the ballot. In Minnesota, the only statewide race is a little-followed one for Supreme Court justice. Once every 12 years the ballot is void of a statewide political race. There is no governor contest, no mention of U.S. senator, attorney general, state auditor or secretary of state.
ST. PAUL—Individual health insurance policies have been hot sellers this week, but Gov. Mark Dayton says the allotment is nowhere near sold out. Insurance companies are limiting the number of new policies they sell this year to 152,000, and Dayton said on Friday, Nov. 4, that limits are not being approached. However, he offered no estimate about how long it would be before any of the three major health plans would reach their caps.
ST. PAUL—Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says the election is rigged against him, although he has offered no proof. Many people, including some in the federal government, fear Russia will try to affect the election with electronic attacks. But Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon disregards such talk, at least in the state where he is chief of elections. While votes are reported via computer, Simon said that Minnesota retains a paper trail so returns may be recreated from scratch if needed.
ST. PAUL — Technology issues are fixed and the state's MNsure health insurance sales program has enrolled 10,000 Minnesotans, a mark not hit for nearly a month last year. "We've...
ST. PAUL—Dramatic numbers show something was up when the MNsure state agency opened individual health insurance policy sales. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Minnesota agency's telephone call center received 50,000 calls in the first hour it was open to sell 2017 policies. Throughout the day, 80,000 calls were attempted. On Wednesday, the number was 4,100 by 3 p.m., a figure that officials said was to be expected. Gov. Mark Dayton said someone was trying to jam the MNsure phone lines as the agency opened its annual sales effort.
ST. PAUL—The opening of individual health insurance policy sales Tuesday, Nov. 1, was greeted by a robocall effort to block people from reaching the state agency selling policies. Gov. Mark Dayton said the seven-minute wait time for people calling about insurance policies at 9 a.m. slowed to 19 minutes when the automated telephone calls tied up the system. The robocall system was blocked from the MNsure state-run insurance sales agency, the governor added, and call waits quickly dropped.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota deputy sheriffs are back home after aiding North Dakota law enforcement officials at an oil pipeline protest. While Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said on Facebook that she opposed sending Minnesota officers to North Dakota, where American Indian and other protesters have objected to building a new pipeline for months, Gov. Mark Dayton said he has no problem with it. "I do not object," Dayton said Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, when asked by Forum News Service.
ST. PAUL—A federal study of relations between Minnesota police and their communities has expanded from Hennepin County to statewide. A Minnesota advisory committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission Monday, Oct. 31, decided the discussion should not be limited to the state's largest county. "I would want to include folks from communities outside of the metro area," said Director Velma Korbel of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, who heads the 15-person advisory committee heavy with Twin Cities members.
ST. PAUL—"What we've got here is a failure to communicate." The famous quote from the 1967 movie "Cool Hand Luke" would seem to fit the Minnesota health insurance premium situation. All four legislative caucuses and the governor have released plans to help keep rising premiums in check, but they don't seem to be able to sit down together to come up with a compromise. The communication issue came to a head Wednesday, Oct. 26, when Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt talked about each other, but not to each other.