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 — Political reporters love it when a high-level politician stands in front of them fielding questions on all sorts of topics. Washington reporters got a ton of stories when President Donald Trump did that in the Rose Garden a few days ago. Minnesota reporters had the same opportunity the next day when Gov. Mark Dayton started a "press availability" by briefly talking about health care and the state's attempt to lure the second Amazon headquarters, then took questions on a wide variety of topics for 40 minutes.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans have another year before they must have a Real ID-compliant driver's license to board airliners. Gov. Mark Dayton announced Wednesday, Oct. 18, that the U.S. Homeland Security Department had granted the extension. "All Minnesotans should be assured that they can continue to board commercial airplanes and access federal facilities with their existing driver's licenses or birth certificates as we work to fully implement Real ID and comply with federal requirements," Dayton said.
ST. PAUL — Two Minnesota health programs could be winners under a new federal health care proposal backed by the president. The U.S. Senate plan, which so far lacks leaders' backing, would restore money to the government-subsidized MinnesotaCare health insurance program that serves 91,000 low-income people. It also would provide aid to nearly 170,000 Minnesotans who buy buy individual insurance policies because they are not covered by employee- or government-provided plans.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has approved a crude oil pipeline crossing from Canada into northeastern North Dakota that will send oil across northern Minnesota. The Monday, Oct. 16, announcement allows Canada-based Enbridge to pump oil across the border at maximum capacity of the Alberta Clipper pipeline, also known as Line 67. The 1,112-mile pipeline has been operating, but since 2010, but Enbridge has used another pipeline to move oil at a lower rate across the international border.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans can begin shopping for individual health insurance policies but only to window shop, not to buy yet. Since buying insurance for people not covered by employer or government programs can be complicated, state-run MNsure has opened its website for examining and comparing 2018 insurance plans. Minnesotans may buy 2018 policies Nov. 1 to Jan. 14. Most Americans only have until Dec. 15 to pick policies.
ST. PAUL — The U.S. Senate's top Republican is determined to fill empty judge seats, even if it means rolling over Sen. Al Franken. The Minnesota Democrat is using a Senate tradition to stop the confirmation of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the federal appeals court. But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is tired of the tactic and promises to find a way around it.
ST. PAUL—Wind power is not living up to promises its Minnesota backers made, a conservative think tank said Tuesday, Oct. 10, the same day the federal government began peeling back rules that discouraged coal-fired power plants. The report written for the Center of the American Experiment concluded that Minnesota has lost is lower-than-average electricity cost, carbon dioxide is not dropping as state policy intended and more than $10 billion has been spent on wind farms that do not save money or reduce pollution.
ST. PAUL—Both sides of the issue made a lot of noise, but in the end allowing companies to stop birth control insurance coverage may affect few Minnesotans. "Almost all Minnesota employers covered contraception before the (current federal law) and we don't expect that to change," Eileen Smith of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans said Monday, Oct. 9, after the Trump administration announced it will let firms drop the coverage. However, Planned Parenthood said the decision could lean to more pregnancies.
ST. PAUL—Meg Moynihan sat in her farmhouse, looking out at the rain. Her dairy farm did not need the precipitation Friday, Oct. 6, leaving her feeling a bit down. The day illustrated that as a farmer herself, Moynihan understands about the need for a new state program she just planted at the Minnesota Agriculture Department: Farm and Rural Helpline. The line is a new service, replacing an earlier farm crisis line, that allows rural Minnesotans to call (833) 600-2670 to deal with all sorts of problems, even if they do not rise to crisis level, Moynihan said.
ST. PAUL — U.S. Rep. Tim Walz became the first Minnesota governor candidate to pick a running mate, and if elected lieutenant governor she would become the highest ranking female American Indian office holder in any state. State Rep. Peggy Flanagan of St. Louis Park joined the ticket of the Democratic governor hopeful. After a Thursday night, Oct. 5, emailed news release about the decision, the pair set off on a tour of Minneapolis, Rochester, Mankato, Duluth, Hibbing, Bemidji, Moorhead and St. Cloud.