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—Steve Sviggum is about to rejoin Dean Johnson, but the pair from opposite political parties who held the top legislative positions a decade ago say it will be different this time as they work together as University of Minnesota regents. A joint session of the Republican-controlled Minnesota House and Senate elected Sviggum, a former GOP House speaker, to the university Board of Regents Wednesday night, Feb. 22. That means he will join a board where Johnson serves as chairman.
ST. PAUL—A White Earth Nation judge will join the Minnesota State board of trustees. Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday, Feb. 22, named George W. Soule to fill a vacancy on the board of what had been known as the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. "George Soule has had a very distinguished career bringing justice and opportunity to people throughout Minnesota," Dayton said. "I believe that Mr. Soule will bring this dedication to ensuring excellent higher education and career training opportunities for all students at Minnesota State."
ST. PAUL — Cindy Woldstad lived in pain, then became hooked on opioid painkillers. While being treated in Hibbing, doctors only wanted to give her "pills, pills, pills, pills," she told a Minnesota House committee Tuesday during a day in which fighting opioid addiction was in the Minnesota Capitol spotlight. She did not want to leave bed, and certainly did not want her grandchild to see her in pain and know of her addiction. "I lived in bed ... because I was so drugged up from these pills." However, Wolstad said, she wanted more of a life.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota representatives lifted their glasses to Sunday liquor store sales, the first time either chamber of the state Legislature has approved removing a ban that dates back to statehood. With an 85-45 House vote Monday, attention now turns to whether senators also want to overturn the sales prohibition. House members voted 70-56 last year against dumping the law, giving supporters of the legislation hope because of the massive turnaround.
ST. PAUL—Midwestern members of Congress worry about what the Trump administration may do about agriculture-related issues, especially a law requiring use of crop-based fuel. U.S.Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said she drove home that point during a recent meeting with agriculture secretary nominee Sonny Perdue. Also, a bipartisan group of representatives sent a letter to President Donald Trump saying the Renewable Fuel Standard law is critical.
ST. PAUL — Ethics discussions moved beyond the troubled U.S. Bank Stadium governing authority after its two top officials resigned. While allowing family and friends into U.S. Bank Stadium free has been center of a controversy, the Thursday, Feb. 16, resignation of the facility's chairwoman and executive director spurred discussion about other venues, too. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, said they would like to expand the freebie ban to other public facilities.
ST. PAUL — It is not fair that three counties are funding a fight to allow all 87 Minnesota counties to save money, a Becker County commissioner says. "It is a bigger issue than just our county," Commissioner Barry Nelson told a state House committee Wednesday, Feb. 15, but so far a lawsuit by State Auditor Rebecca Otto has cost Becker $41,990.56 with only two other counties also funding the battle. "It is very hard for counties of our size to continue on with litigation with the state," Nelson said. "It is not Minnesotan."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota law enforcement officers, who have received minority community criticism after high-profile shootings and other incidents, likely soon will be required to take diversity training, partially at state expense. Police groups not only welcome the concept, but presented it to state legislators.
ST. PAUL—Educating the public about opioid drugs may be the best way to fight their dangers. That is what Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson hopes. On Monday, Feb. 13, she announced that she has adapted a year-old Wisconsin opioid public awareness campaign to counteract the growing addiction problem to opioid pain killers. Swanson said a website (doseofreality.mn.gov) is the centerpiece of the effort, with a brochure and public service announcement for television stations and movie theaters also available.
ST. PAUL — A third job probably would have meant Madilyne Wegener needed more than four years to graduate from St. Cloud State University. State and federal college grant programs made the difference for her, she said, and she expect to graduate in May after four years. "Honestly, I either would have had to take out a lot more loans than I have or I would have had to take less credits because it is cheaper..." Wegener said. "Or maybe gotten a third job, but that may have been too much."