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 — Tensions have ramped up in the past couple of years between law enforcement officers and some communities they serve. Some states have passed laws meant to discourage attacks on police and many in the Minnesota Legislature want to join them. Legislation awaits action by the full House; a similar bill has not been considered by any Senate committee.
ST. PAUL — Much of a Minnesota budget surplus is thanks to the federal government. As budget surpluses go, it is not a biggie; "razor thin" is the way Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, described the expected $329 million after it was announced Wednesday, Feb. 28.
ST. PAUL — Most greater Minnesota residents have one or two choices for health insurers, which Gov. Mark Dayton said shows a need to expand a state health insurance program to everyone. The state-subsidized MinnesotaCare insurance program especially could help farmers, who often struggle with finding and affording health care coverage, Dayton said.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's state budget has flipped from being in deficit to surplus, but the added money is less than legislative leaders expected. Minnesota Management and Budget, the state finance agency, projects a $329 million surplus for the current $46 billion budget, which ends July 1, 2019. However, Minnesota legislative leaders told a Forum News Service forum two weeks ago that they expected a surplus of $600 million to $1 billion.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota lawmakers will be drawn into a gun debate that has blossomed since last week's Florida school shooting that left 17 dead. Protect Minnesota, an anti-gun violence group, will lead a Capitol rotunda rally at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22. Among legislation those art the rally will oppose are giving gun owners more freedom to defend themselves and to carry guns without permits.
ST. PAUL — Last week's precinct caucus governor straw poll has taken its second victim: former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. "I am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received," the Democrat said Monday, Feb. 12. "So, it is with a heavy heart that I announce today the suspension of my campaign for governor of Minnesota." State Rep. Paul Thissen of Minneapolis dropped out of the race the day after the Feb. 6 caucuses.
ST. PAUL—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty stole the spotlight from Republican candidates in the governor's race Tuesday, Feb. 6, hours before party loyalists gather to pick their favorite candidate in a straw poll. The two-term Republican governor made a surprise announcement Tuesday morning that he will leave the Financial Services Roundtable next month. As leader of the Washington-based group, Pawlenty has been spokesman and lobbyist for financial services companies.
ST. PAUL — A high school junior leads an effort to prevent sex trafficking around Minnesota. Jessica Melnik of Hopkins High School founded Girls United Minnesota after she and friends saw one of their classmates being trafficked. Now, she is pushing state legislation to modify current sexual abuse prevention law to include sexual exploitation prevention education in schools. "This is a small, but we think common sense step," state Sen. Paul Anderson, R-Plymouth, said of the bill he will offer.
WASHINGTON — Tina Smith says she understands greater Minnesota's needs as she takes over for U.S. Sen. Al Franken. "I have traveled every corner of the state," the Minneapolis resident told Forum News Service in a telephone interview Wednesday, Jan. 3, after she took the oath to become senator. That, she said, included learning how important agriculture is to Minnesota. "It is sort of the foundation stone to the economy."
WASHINGTON—Minnesota's best-known politician has resigned from the U.S. Senate while a well-known political celebrity considers running for the job. Al Franken resigned as senator at noon Tuesday, Jan. 2, as Lt. Gov. Tina Smith prepared to replace him Wednesday. In the meantime, an interview with former U.S. Sen. Michele Bachmann, who sought the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, surfaced in which she said she is trying to determine if God is calling her to run for the Senate.