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—Gov. Mark Dayton has authorized $3.3 million to six Minnesota counties and three American Indian reservations for damage sustained in July storms. Dayton announced Tuesday that money will go to governments to spend on damage to their facilities, not private property, that occurred July 19 to July 21 from thunderstorms, high winds and flooding in Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Lake and St. Louis counties.
ST. PAUL—A Minnesota-based beauty school abruptly has closed all 79 campuses across the country. Regency Beauty Institute schools included five, serving about 430 students, in Minnesota: Duluth, Blaine, Burnsville, Maplewood and St. Cloud. "It is with great sadness that we announce that after more than 50 years of educating cosmetology students, Regency Beauty Institute is permanently closing on September 28, 2016," the for-profit school said on its website Thursday. "We are truly sorry for the abrupt nature of this information," Regency's website said.
ST. PAUL—Unionized home care attendants want the state to increase their base pay to $15 an hour and pay for more training, even as some of their colleagues seek to disband the union. Contract talks with the state begin Friday. Workers and their clients told reporters Wednesday that the improvements are needed to stop a home care crisis. "People with disabilities are not receiving all of the care they need," Corey Van Denburgh said. "Our loved ones' health is being put at risk."
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans must be eager to vote in the Nov. 8 election. Nearly 47,000 registered to vote online last week, with about 27,000 on Sept. 23, alone, smashing the one-day record of 7,602. The big interest in registering, as well as early voting, bodes well for high voter turnout in the 2016 election. Secretary of State Steve Simon announced the figures Monday.
ST. PAUL—Rural Minnesota wind and solar farms likely will provide a third of the electricity for the state's 23-building Capitol complex near downtown St. Paul. State and Xcel Energy officials on Wednesday, Sept. 21, announced a 20-year deal to use power from North Star Solar Project in Chisago County and Odell Wind Warm in Cottonwood, Jackson, Martin, and Watonwan counties. Before the deal takes effect, it must be approved by the state Commerce Department and the Public Utilities Commission. State officials say the support is expected early in 2017.
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 pain killers 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, Sept. 19, 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. PAUL—A new Minnesota Poll shows Donald Trump closing Hillary Clinton's lead in the state, which mirrors national polls showing the presidential race tightening. The Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll indicates Clinton would receive 44 percent of the vote and Trump 38 percent if the election were held now. North Dakota native Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico governor, received 12 percent support, although more than a quarter of those surveyed said they did not know who he is.
ST. CLOUD, Minn.—No link has emerged between terrorist groups and the man who stabbed nine people in a St. Cloud mall Saturday night. 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 Adan, 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.
FALCON HEIGHTS—The Minnesota State Fair is known for food on a stick, but one woman promoted food that may eat sticks: Bugs. "I know it might sound gross initially, but trust me it is quite tasty," Kiah Brasch told fair audiences. The woman from Roseville, near the fairgrounds, said that at first, she had a hard time because of "the ick factor." But after a couple of tries, she got over it. "This lady over here is eating a cricket burger," she said, pointing to some pictures. "This little girl is eating chocolate covered crickets."