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—First it was an effort to keep agriculture runoff out of the state's waters by the use of plant buffers, then last week it was a restriction on the use of some pesticides. Many of Minnesota's farmers and farm organizations are not happy with Gov. Mark Dayton, who began both efforts without what farmers say was adequate consultation. Many say they agree with Dayton's desire to clean up pollution and protect bees, but disagree with how he approaches agriculture-related issues.
RED LAKE FALLS, Minn.—John Proulx learned his lesson, without a fireball. He was tipping over a tree while clearing land on his northwestern Minnesota farm when he heard a scraping sound. He knew he did not hit a rock with his end loader, and the thought crossed his mind that he may have hit an oil pipeline. He did. But he was lucky because it was just dented, not sliced open, which could have caused an explosion or spill. The Enbridge pipeline had to be shut down and fixed. "We thought we knew where it was," Proulx said.
MORGAN, Minn.—Ruth Meirick was like most members of most farm families: There was too much work to do to worry about safety. Then, "it just happened." Her brother-in-law was moving a bale of hay and the tractor he was driving on a northeastern Iowa farm flipped over, killing him. "It only takes a second to make a bad decision and another second to have a consequence of that bad decision," Meirick said. "We have dealt with the consequences of having a death in my own family."
WASHINGTON—Federal officials plan to buy cheese to help poor Americans who need food assistance and dairy farmers who are suffering from low prices. Tuesday's announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend $20 million to buy 11 million pounds of cheese from private companies comes as the dairy industry experienced a 35 percent revenue drop in the past two years.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he plans to campaign for clean water in coming months instead of against Republicans he blamed for torpedoing a special legislative session over a southwestern Twin Cities light rail proposal. The Democratic governor has been very strong in his statements against Republican opposition to the rail project, which he says is needed to move commuters from places like Eden Prairie to Minneapolis. No bus line can do that, he says.
ST. PAUL—Supporters of a western Minnesota private prison may not want to get their hopes up that the state could buy the facility. Thursday's news that the federal government plans to withdraw inmates from private prisons encouraged speculation that Corrections Corporation of America would reduce its nearly $100 million price tag on the Appleton facility since private prisons are losing favor. That could make a purchase attractive to the state, reasoned lawmakers in the area of the western Minnesota prison.
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn.—The numbers needed to describe video boards in the new U.S. Bank Stadium are impressive: The biggest scoreboard, for instance, is 68 feet tall and 120 feet wide. More than 19 light emitting diode displays are in or just outside the stadium, providing nearly 31,000 square feet of video boards. But Amy Barnes, and nearly 200 others who built the video boards in Redwood Falls, summarize all of those figures into one easy-to-understand word: pride.
MORGAN -- Scott VanderWal came across the South Dakota border to southwest Minnesota's Farmfest to scare farmers. The American Farm Bureau vice president wasted no time doing that as keynote...
MORGAN -- Temperatures bumped 90 degrees and humidity was high, but U.S. House candidates remained cool as they debated Tuesday in front of a Farmfest forum. Answers about crop insurance...
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans may not be very involved in the presidential campaign. The state often does not draw the candidates because of its tradition of voting Democratic. Republicans see little hope in Minnesota and Democrats see little reason to leave a swing state to campaign in a state they expect to win. On top of that, there is so little love for either candidate this year that many party activists on both sides are expected to spend most of their time working on other races, for U.S. House in some areas and for the state Legislature in much of the state.