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—Greater Minnesota Republicans flexed their muscle. They helped provide the state House and Senate a GOP majority and forced some U.S. House races into closer-than-expected contests in the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election. While House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump deserves some of the credit in attracting rural voters to the polls, some legislative candidates outpaced the president-elect in votes.
ST. PAUL—Election day may be Tuesday, but 568,196 Minnesotans already have voted. That is the word this morning from the secretary of state's office and represents the most early voters ever. This is the first presidential election in which a state no-excuse, early-voting law is in effect. The figure represents the absentee vote count plus mail-in ballots used in some rural predicts.
ST. PAUL—Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says the election is rigged against him, although he has offered no proof. Many people, including some in the federal government, fear Russia will try to affect the election with electronic attacks. But Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon disregards such talk, at least in the state where he is chief of elections. While votes are reported via computer, Simon said that Minnesota retains a paper trail so returns may be recreated from scratch if needed.
ST. PAUL—Individual health insurance policies have been hot sellers this week, but Gov. Mark Dayton says the allotment is nowhere near sold out. Insurance companies are limiting the number of new policies they sell this year to 152,000, and Dayton said on Friday, Nov. 4, that limits are not being approached. However, he offered no estimate about how long it would be before any of the three major health plans would reach their caps.
Lawmaker pay amendment on ballot While most Minnesota voters focus on presidential politics with interest in local, legislative and congressional races, they also will decide whether state lawmakers should set their own salaries. A constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot would establish a 16-member independent commission to decide how much lawmakers are paid. They would vote for raises, lower pay or keep the status quo.
ST. PAUL — Technology issues are fixed and the state's MNsure health insurance sales program has enrolled 10,000 Minnesotans, a mark not hit for nearly a month last year. "We've helped more Minnesotans than we have in any two-day period in our history," MNsure executive Allison O'Toole told reporters Thursday, Nov. 3.
ST. PAUL—A telephone attack slowed the MNsure health insurance sales telephone system on the first day Minnesotans could buy policies Tuesday, Nov. 1, and about 70 state Websites experienced outages at mid-day. A state information technology official said it did not appear the incidents were linked, but they combined to make life miserable for thousands of Minnesotans trying to heed officials' suggestions to buy health policies early.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota deputy sheriffs are back home after aiding North Dakota law enforcement officials at an oil pipeline protest. While Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said on Facebook that she opposed sending Minnesota officers to North Dakota, where American Indian and other protesters have objected to building a new pipeline for months, Gov. Mark Dayton said he has no problem with it. "I do not object," Dayton said Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, when asked by Forum News Service.
ST. PAUL—The opening of individual health insurance policy sales Tuesday, Nov. 1, was greeted by a robocall effort to block people from reaching the state agency selling policies. Gov. Mark Dayton said the seven-minute wait time for people calling about insurance policies at 9 a.m. slowed to 19 minutes when the automated telephone calls tied up the system. The robocall system was blocked from the MNsure state-run insurance sales agency, the governor added, and call waits quickly dropped.