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 — 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.
ST. PAUL — Most Minnesota farmers will meet the first deadline to put buffers between cropland and water. Executive Director John John Jaschke of the state Board of Water and Soil Resources announced Thursday, Oct. 5, that 94 percent of parcels will have pollution protections in place by the Nov. 1 deadline. The Department of Natural Resources has provided maps showing land that must meet this year's deadline, land adjoining rivers, many creeks and some other water. A 2018 deadline applies to public ditches, such as man made ones.
WASHINGTON — Two men with Minnesota backgrounds are set to move into their U.S. Department of Agriculture offices. The Senate late Tuesday, Oct. 3, approved the nominations of Steve Censky to be the No. 2 person in the department and Ted McKinney to become the first-ever undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs. The nominations by President Donald Trump were not controversial, but it took weeks for senators to give their blessing to the pair.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's new car dealers are at war, fighting an unlikely foe: car manufacturers. "MANUFACTURING LIES" a headline blares in the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association most recent magazine. That is followed by a series of other headlines, such as "The Dahms obstacle," "The misinformation campaign" and "Overcoming alternative facts." They are biting comments considering dealers need an alliance with automakers, whose products they sell.
PAUL — Minnesotans who do not have employer or government funded health insurance received good, but not great, news when state officials released 2018 premiums rates they will pay. Most individual insurance premiums will remain about the same as this year when Minnesotans can start buying them in a month, but many say the rates already were not affordable.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota can keep its program that indefinitely locks up sex offenders after they finish serving prison terms. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday, Oct. 2, that it will not consider a case brought by patients of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, who claimed the state cannot keep them in a prison-like setting. That means the state program is constitutional and may continue. Still, state officials said that they will continue to find ways to release sex offenders from the program after years of no releases.