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 — Minnesotans can begin shopping for individual health insurance policies but only to window shop, not to buy yet. Since buying insurance for people not covered by employer or government programs can be complicated, state-run MNsure has opened its website for examining and comparing 2018 insurance plans. Minnesotans may buy 2018 policies Nov. 1 to Jan. 14. Most Americans only have until Dec. 15 to pick policies.
ST. PAUL—Meg Moynihan sat in her farmhouse, looking out at the rain. Her dairy farm did not need the precipitation Friday, Oct. 6, leaving her feeling a bit down. The day illustrated that as a farmer herself, Moynihan understands about the need for a new state program she just planted at the Minnesota Agriculture Department: Farm and Rural Helpline. The line is a new service, replacing an earlier farm crisis line, that allows rural Minnesotans to call (833) 600-2670 to deal with all sorts of problems, even if they do not rise to crisis level, Moynihan said.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans who do not have employer or government funded health insurance received good, but not great news when state officials released 2018 premiums rates they will pay. Most individual insurance premiums will remain about the same as this year when Minnesotans can start buying them in a month, but many say the rates already were not affordable. About 112,000 who benefited from a 25 percent discount funded by state taxpayers this year (averaging $136 a month) will not see that rate cut again next year.
ST. PAUL—"A bridge in America just shouldn't fall down." The often-quoted comment by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was what Minnesotans thought 10 years ago when the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis did just that. But state leaders did not stop with talk, they began taking action to prevent more bridge disasters the day after the Aug. 1, 2007, collapse. They started inspecting every bridge in the state, then fixing and replacing those most in need.
ST. PAUL—Two days does not a trend make, but to Christopher Arnold what happened in the first two days Minnesota liquor stores could be open on Sundays looks familiar. "It basically follows what happened in Colorado," said Arnold, manager at Bagley's city-owned liquor store. Colorado allowed Sunday sales in 2008 for the first time since prohibition. Many stores opened to long lines, then sales leveled off. Or, as Arnold said in a phrase Coloradans may use, "it sort of mellowed out."
ST. PAUL—An overtime Minnesota legislative session provided an opening to protest the state budget as legislative leaders worked out plans to finish on Thursday. Hundreds gathered at the state Capitol Wednesday, May 24, delivering chants like "veto everything" because they do not like spending bills mostly written by Republicans. In many cases, the complaints were that the legislation would not spend enough money. Protesters came from a wide-ranging coalition including teachers, religious leaders, immigration supporters, local government control advocates and others.
ST. PAUL — A rookie Minnesota senator may have said it best in social media. "With less than a week left of legislative session, here's a list of what we still need to finish: 1. Everything." That Tuesday, May 16, summary of the Legislature by Sen. Matt Little, D-Lakeville, said it all, other than progress was being made at the highest levels.
ST. PAUL — Voters around greater Minnesota can expect to see a lot of Jeff Johnson. The 50-year-old Hennepin County commissioner and Detroit Lakes native launched his second Republican bid for governor Wednesday, May 10, saying that the area outside the Twin Cities is critical.
ST. PAUL — The sky has not fallen since Donald Trump became president. But, opponents are quick to say, there still is time. Trump's 100th day in office arrived Saturday, April 29, and the milestone passed with too few concrete actions for most Minnesota leaders to give him a full grade.
ST. PAUL — No one wants to celebrate a 70th birthday with a new cancer diagnosis and recent history of fainting on statewide television. But that is what Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton faces Thursday, Jan. 26, when that landmark day arrives.