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—Chickens in cages draw reactions. Kent Campos and Abby Gross looked at a new Minnesota State Fair display called the Hen House and drew different conclusions. "It looks like there are a lot of them in there," Campos said. "They are kind of climbing over each other." Asked if it bothered him, he responded: "A little bit I guess. I would prefer they are not like that." On the other hand, the caged birds did not bother Gross.
FALCON HEIGHTS—A message from a Black Lives Matter Minnesota State Fair booth is that people throughout the state can learn from actions the organization takes in the Twin Cities. As Todd Gramenz of St. Paul mans his booth, where he sells T-shirts with inscriptions such as "Hands up don't shoot," he hears from people around Minnesota who say that Black Lives Matter has inspired them to discuss race. "It is very touching to me to know that people actually are doing these things around the state," he said.
ST. PAUL—A group of American Indians whose ancestors rescued whites during an 1862 war want to collect on a federal government promise of a 12-square-mile tract in west central Minnesota. The six people, seeking the land for about 20,000 Mdewakanton Sioux Indians, on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue. Since 2003, they have fought the federal government and people who settled the land, with the high court rejecting earlier requests to consider a related case.
FALCON HEIGHTS—Gov. Mark Dayton paused Tuesday before making an announcement. "Good Minnesota clean water ..." he declared after drinking from a blue bottle at the Minnesota State Fair. "May we always keep it available." Dayton then asked every Minnesotan to take a pledge to care for the state's water. "It is something we can no longer take for granted," he said in front of the Department of Natural Resources' fair fish pond.
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.