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
- 4 years 7 months
ST. PAUL — Unseasonably warm weather is making Minnesota farmers itchy to get into the fields, but some have not ordered seeds while they wait to know their financial standing. Soon, they should have that answer if Gov. Mark Dayton does as expected and signs legislation to pump $35 million into a farmer loan program. Minnesota senators voted 62-0 in favor of the bill Thursday, Feb. 16, following House members' action a week earlier.
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—Most Minnesota teachers do not get master's degrees in the subjects they teach. That, state Rep. Dean Urdahl says, needs to change so students get better education. If teachers know more about the subjects they teach, students would learn more, he said Tuesday, Feb. 14. The Minnesota House Education Finance Committee Tuesday approved Urdahl's legislation to provide tax credits of $2,500 to teachers who earn master's degrees in their fields. It is expected to become part of an overall tax bill lawmakers consider later this spring.
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 expects 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."
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's prostate cancer can be cured, a Mayo Clinic official said on Thursday, Feb. 2, and he can continue his state chief executive duties. The governor visited the Rochester, Minn., clinic Tuesday and Wednesday to get information about the cancer diagnosis he received last month.
ST. PAUL — A third as many trains haul North Dakota crude oil across Minnesota as two years ago. Falling oil prices forced a drop in oil output in the Bakken region in western North Dakota, which meant a dramatic drop in the number of trains needed to haul the oil to refineries to the east and south. Most North Dakota oil trains go through Minnesota.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota farmers and agriculture-related groups ask for very little money from the state. Gov. Mark Dayton's $46 billion two-year budget proposal would give just short of $1 billion to the Agriculture Department. At the same time, agriculture provides between 20 percent and 30 percent of Minnesota's jobs and wealth and agriculture leaders say their industry could do even better with a bit more help from the state. Pat Lunemann said a priority must be "to make sure we have a level playing field with the states surrounding us."
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans who buy individual health insurance policies have until Tuesday, Jan. 31, to enroll for coverage this year, unless federal officials allow more time. The governor and a key health care senator have asked the Trump administration to give Minnesotans more time. The Obama administration rejected a similar ask by fellow Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton. But state officials hope the new Republican administration will be more willing to consider it.
ST. PAUL — Raising Minnesota's next two-year budget nearly 10 percent is Gov. Mark Dayton's ask. "We must wisely invest and use our resources," his finance commissioner, Myron Frans, told reporters on Tuesday, Jan. 24, in announcing hopes to increase spending for transportation, education, local governments and other budget areas. The Dayton plan would spend almost $46 billion in the two years beginning July 1. That 9.6 percent boost is too much for Republicans, but GOP leaders said they have not had time to dissect the Dayton proposal.