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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FALCON HEIGHTS -- A woman walked up to the Jacobs Lefse Bakeri booth at the Minnesota State Fair with a simple question: "How do you get it not to stick?" Jack Jacobs, who has heard that question thousands of times, was happy to give her the secret: "You are always rolling in flour." The key to avoiding the woman's sticky rolling pin situation is to sprinkle flour on lefse dough before rolling it and again about half-way through, Jacobs explained. He should know.
Most Minnesota State Fair visitors smile, but Laura Olson beamed. Olson stood outside a glass-enclosed, refrigerated booth containing one of her three daughters and a sculptor.
FALCON HEIGHTS -- Emily Schaefer and Bethany Urban form a Kandiyohi County one-two punch in defending and promoting the dairy industry. For Schaefer, one of the things she sees as her job as a dairy ambassador is making sure people understand that "cows are well cared for." Urban hopes to make a career in some form of scientific dairy research. "It has been my life so far, so I might as well keep it up." The two Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalists "are like sisters," Urban said, both coming from Kandiyohi County.
ST. PAUL -- So far, Minnesota pandemic flu cases have centered on the Twin Cities, they typically have affected younger people and most cases have not been severe. But state health officials warn that the H1N1 "swine" flu outbreak expected this fall may be different and anyone could be affected. "We want the citizens to be motivated, but not frantic ..." Health Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota leaders are bracing for a fiscal fallout as federal policymakers debate health-care reform proposals costing $1 trillion. Most state governments, including Minnesota, faced huge deficits as they wrote new budgets this year.
BROOKLYN PARK -- Minnesota schools should learn from the suicide of a St. Louis teenager and more than a dozen others that cyberbullying is serious business, according to an expert on the subject. School leaders need to act now to prevent cyberbullying, Parry Aftab told those at the Minnesota School Board Association's annual meeting Friday.
ST. PAUL -- With light music and a soothing voice in the background, a content couple leaps into the air and another happy couple sits in a meadow amid wildflowers. To any television viewer, it appears to be a commercial for the latest wonder drug, available only by prescription. But upon closer examination, this "Reforma" being promoted is President Barack Obama's health-care reform plan and the script is a biting criticism of it. "Consult your congressman or senator now," the male announcer intones. "'Reforma.' Side effects include bureaucratic waste and delay.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Republicans stopped a straw poll for governor halfway through the annual Farmfest event. "A straw poll was started but stopped because the state chair had not authorized it," state Republican spokesman Mark Drake said. "We didn't want to take attention away from our sanctioned state convention poll in October." Governor candidate state Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall, who grew up near the Farmfest grounds, said he was told the poll was halted "apparently because it favored me. ...