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 — Technology issues are fixed and the state's MNsure health insurance sales program has enrolled 10,000 Minnesotans, a mark not hit for nearly a month last year. "We've helped more Minnesotans than we have in any two-day period in our history," MNsure executive Allison O'Toole told reporters Thursday, Nov. 3.
ST. PAUL—Dramatic numbers show something was up when the MNsure state agency opened individual health insurance policy sales. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Minnesota agency's telephone call center received 50,000 calls in the first hour it was open to sell 2017 policies. Throughout the day, 80,000 calls were attempted. On Wednesday, the number was 4,100 by 3 p.m., a figure that officials said was to be expected. Gov. Mark Dayton said someone was trying to jam the MNsure phone lines as the agency opened its annual sales effort.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota deputy sheriffs are back home after aiding North Dakota law enforcement officials at an oil pipeline protest. While Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said on Facebook that she opposed sending Minnesota officers to North Dakota, where American Indian and other protesters have objected to building a new pipeline for months, Gov. Mark Dayton said he has no problem with it. "I do not object," Dayton said Tuesday when asked by Forum News Service.
ST. PAUL—The opening of individual health insurance policy sales Tuesday, Nov. 1, was greeted by a robocall effort to block people from reaching the state agency selling policies. Gov. Mark Dayton said the seven-minute wait time for people calling about insurance policies at 9 a.m. slowed to 19 minutes when the automated telephone calls tied up the system. The robocall system was blocked from the MNsure state-run insurance sales agency, the governor added, and call waits quickly dropped.
ST. PAUL — A federal study of relations between Minnesota police and their communities has expanded from Hennepin County to statewide. A Minnesota advisory committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission decided Monday the discussion should not be limited to the state's largest county. "I would want to include folks from communities outside of the metro area," said director Velma Korbel of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, who heads the 15-person advisory committee heavy with Twin Cities members.
ST. PAUL—Voters will face more than two choices for president on Nov. 8, even though just two are well-funded enough to have a chance. Minnesota voters see candidates from the Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Independence, Legal Marijuana Now, the Socialist Workers and the American Delta parties. Other than Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the candidates lack enough money to make much of an impression.
ST. PAUL—Look at history and it would appear Democrats will control the Minnesota Legislature next year. After all, Democrats have won control of the Senate in every presidential election year since 1992. And House Democrats came out on top in four of the six most recent presidential years. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party voters have a tradition of turning out in greater numbers when the presidential race is on the ballot than in other years. When they show up to vote for their presidential candidate, they usually vote for other Democrats on down the ballot.
ST. PAUL—"The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people." Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton had not even finished the sentence when political reporters knew they had a story. After all, Dayton has been a strong proponent of the federal health care law, better known as Obamacare, and pushed to establish a state online health insurance sales portal. That MNsure operation is Minnesotans' connection to Obamacare.
ST. PAUL—The two major presidential candidates appear to agree on something. Hillary Clinton: "America's rural communities lie at the heart of what makes this country great." Donald Trump: "Growing our farm sector and supporting our nation's farmers are absolutely critical steps to making America great again." The two short quotes from Democrat Clinton and Republican Trump are more than most Americans hear about rural issues in the campaign, so the two apparently agree that rural issues are not critical enough to their chances on Nov. 8 to talk about them much.
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.