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—Rural Minnesota may never have been mentioned so often in a state Senate debate not about a specific rural issue. Small towns and farmers were featured Thursday, Jan. 12, before senators passed 35-31 legislation to help Minnesotans afford individual health insurance policies. Rural residents like farmers tend to rely on individual policies more than do those living in cities.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton walked out of a meeting he chairs Tuesday, Nov. 29, over a battle about whether Civil War paintings should hang in his office. "It has been a deeply distressing issue for me," Dayton said, claiming Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, wishes to return six paintings to the governor's office once the state Capitol building restoration finishes next year is rooted in political ambitions.
<p>ST. PAUL—Very early election returns showed Minnesotans favoring establishing a 16-member independent panel to determine state legislator pay.</p><p>With just 370 of 4,120 precincts reporting Tuesday night, Nov. 8, unofficial returns from the secretary of state indicated nearly 76 percent support. Ballots without any votes for or against the proposed constitutional amendment were counted as "no" votes.</p>
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—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—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.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton declared a special legislative session dead just more than a month ago, but on Thursday, Sept. 22, legislative and executive branch staff members gather to discuss bringing legislators back this fall. The governor raised the possibility of resurrecting special session talks during a late-August State Fair interview and talked to House Speaker Kurt Daudt about it over breakfast earlier this month. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars in public works projects, including road work, and tax breaks for many Minnesotans.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota is about to increase its campaign warning about the dangers of painkillers 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 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. CLOUD, Minn.—No link has emerged between terrorist groups and the man who stabbed nine people in a St. Cloud mall Saturday night, Sept. 17. St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson told reporters Monday that he will let the public know quickly if investigators find a connection between the suspect in the stabbings, identified by fellow Somali-Americans as Dahir Anad, and terrorist groups such as ISIS. An ISIS-related news agency called Anad a soldier of the organization, but did not indicate he had prior contact with it.
ST. PAUL—Local government officials across Minnesota need to know if a special legislative session will be called to pass a tax bill. They are nearing a deadline to plan for money the bill would provide them, but Friday is the earliest state leaders will meet about the issue.