David Montgomery / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's plan to lower health insurance premiums next year had just one little complication, but it's threatening to turn into a big complication: It requires approval from the federal government. And with time running out, that approval still isn't here.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's longstanding law against disturbing public meetings violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, Sept. 13. That law, first passed in 1963, said an action that "disturbs an assembly or meeting" in the reasonable knowledge that it "will tend to alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace" qualified as disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.
ST. PAUL—The "utter failure of a rollout" began in July. On Monday came the apologies. "As the Commissioner of Public Safety I apologize to you and to the people of Minnesota and to our stakeholders and business partners," said Commissioner Mona Dohman, who oversees the state's vehicle registrations, drivers licenses and other related areas. "We'll do better." Dohman was apologizing for the trouble-ridden debut of the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System, a $90 million computer system for managing vehicle licenses and registrations.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's pension plans have long had a reputation as safe and solid, especially compared to notoriously underfunded plans in states like Illinois or New Jersey. But recent data is challenging that reputation. In 2015, Minnesota's public pensions had enough money to cover 80 percent of expected costs. Last year, under national standards, that plummeted to 53 percent. That's closer to Illinois than to well-funded Iowa or South Dakota. Local experts say that dismal picture is misleading, however.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans watching devastating footage of a flooded Houston don't need to run out and buy life rafts just yet. Experts say the Twin Cities region is largely protected from truly catastrophic flooding like that caused by Hurricane Harvey. "We certainly have risks of flooding, but it's a very different type than they have in Houston," said Craig Schmidt, the service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's National Guard is ready to deploy to the Gulf Coast to help with hurricane relief efforts but hasn't yet been asked to help. Adjutant Gen. Richard Nash said his staff are preparing for a deployment that could include the Minnesota National Guard's boats and skilled soldiers and airmen. "Texas has not asked for that," Nash said Wednesday, Aug. 30. "What we do in the military is always plan for the worst case."
ST. PAUL — Most Americans will have from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 this year to get 2018 health insurance on the individual market. Minnesotans will get an extra four weeks. The new Jan. 14 deadline was announced Tuesday, Aug. 1, by MNsure, Minnesota's state-run health insurance exchange. Because Minnesota hasn't turned its health insurance exchange over to the federal government, it has the ability to extend enrollment periods.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's insurers are proposing to lower or freeze premiums on many health plans — if the federal government approves a state program to subsidize some of the risk.
ST. PAUL—When Minnesota politicians have needed someone to clean up a troubled organization, they've turned to Michael Vekich. Vekich has been tapped to improve the state lottery, the state's tax code and even the Republican Party of Minnesota. Now DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has picked Vekich to take over the controversial board that runs the Vikings stadium.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota taxpayers are getting a happy surprise: An expensive new state program is coming in massively under budget. The program in question is a $310 million plan to give 25 percent rebates to eligible Minnesotans' health insurance premiums. It was passed in January amid estimates that more than 120,000 people might get state-funded discounts.