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.
- Member for
- 5 years 7 months
ST. PAUL—Kris Sundberg's story is tough to hear. Her father was in an assisted living center. Newspapers piled up outside his door and he did not go to the dining room for a week. Finally, a neighbor urged staff to check on him. Once they did, they found he was dead, apparently for seven days. It was so bad, Sundberg said, that a hazardous materials team had to clean the room before the family could remove belongings. Minnesota does not regulate assisted living facilities such as where her father lived.
ST. PAUL—Appropatiing nearly $1 million is a life and death matter, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says. The governor on Thursday, April 12, asked lawmakers to quickly find that money so a statewide suicide hotline can remain in operation. It was one of several topics he discussed during a session with Capitol reporters. Crisis Connection is the only center in Minnesota taking calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and it will be forced to start shutting down May 21 unless it gets funding help.
ST. PAUL — Jessie Diggins won a historic Olympic medal on Feb. 21, and Minnesota's leaders gave her a hero's welcome when she visited the "people's house." Diggins, from Afton, landed back in Minnesota for the first time since she won the first Olympic medal of any American woman cross-country skier and hours later was in the Capitol on Thursday, April 12. Holding her medal next to her face, she said: "I am here to celebrate this and cross country skiing in Minnesota."
ST. PAUL—Shauna Reitmeier sat at a Minnesota Senate committee table telling lawmakers the bill they were considering would hurt mentally ill patients she serves. Sitting inches to her right Thursday, March 29, was Sen. Mark Johnson, author of the bill she pleaded that senators defeat. It would require some able-bodied people to work if they receive government-funded health care.
ST. PAUL — A stick or rabbit dropping in the yard of a Minnesota child care center, or a crayon mark on a table, may be enough to get a citation from state regulators. That is going too far, child care center workers told a state Senate committee Wednesday, March 28, and senators agreed. "If you truly want to stop the child care crisis now ... then you need to hold the Department of Human Services accountable," Elizabeth Bangert of the Here We Grow child care center in Mankato told a Senate health and human services committee.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's broadband situation is better than some other states but 12 percent of Minnesotans, mostly in greater Minnesota, have internet connection speeds slower than the state standard. "We're not taking the elevator, we are taking the stairs on this one," General Manager Dave Wolf of Gardonville Telephone Co-op of the Alexandria area said Wednesday, March 28, standing alongside Gov. Mark Dayton and other broadband advocates.
ST. PAUL — Tens of thousands of Minnesota state workers will get a raise after the House and Senate approved negotiated contracts. Senators voted 56-10 Monday, May 26, to bump up pay for more than 30,000 workers by 2 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The House followed a few hours later with a 93-33 vote. About half of workers are eligible for other increases, too, Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said. The raises will not increase taxes, Sen. Erik Simonson, D-Duluth, said because the added pay would come out of existing budgets.
ST. PAUL — Many Minnesota government pension plans are paying out more than they are taking in. State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, says that is troubling. Her colleagues agreed Monday, March 26, when they unanimously approved her bill that increases funding going into the pension plans and slightly cuts some benefits. While senators were together on the issue, the pension bill has not received a House committee hearing. Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend $27 million to help shore up public pensions.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton seldom says he would veto a bill, but if it reaches his desk he promises to veto House-passed legislation to get the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System running smoothly. The measure representatives passed late Monday afternoon would take money from other agencies to fix the Public Safety Department program. Dayton said on Tuesday, March 20, that he refuses to let lawmakers "cannibalize" other departments' budgets to fix MNLARS.
ST. PAUL—A fix for the troubled Minnesota License and Registration System that has frustrated thousands of vehicle owners may be close. The state Senate and House Monday, March 19, passed differing versions of legislation to pump $10 million into efforts to improve the MNLARS computer software system. A House-Senate conference committee is expected to work out the differences between the two bills, perhaps this week.