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 12 months
ST. PAUL — 2017 dawned on the Minnesota Capitol with bright sun Sunday, Jan. 1, illuminating the newly renovated building. But the sparkle dimmed as clouds moved in Sunday, followed by a dreary, wintry Monday for most Minnesotans. Was that a forecast of things to come in the 2017 state Legislature, which begins at noon Tuesday? That is impossible to predict, but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republicans who control the Legislature have a stormy past.
ST. PAUL—Several legislators say that state-run college and university needs must be funded. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, who becomes minority leader in the 2017 session, told a recent Forum News Service forum that it is easy to keep state higher education funding down because the schools pick up the shortfall by increasing tuition. But that hurts higher education, he added. Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, said more money is needed, but will be tough to find since Republicans who control the Legislature do not want to raise taxes.
ST. PAUL — Preferred One dropped out. So did UCare. Blue Cross Blue Shield stopped offering its regular policies. Medica says it no longer will supply insurance for a state-run health insurance program. "We almost lost all of the private insurers over the summer," Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota legislators express nearly universal agreement that state roads and bridges need an infusion of money, but a deep divide about where to get the funds prevented action the last two years. The same disagreement exists as the 2017 legislative session begins, leaving in question whether anything significant and long term will be accomplished in transportation. Minnesota's roads face an estimated $16 billion funding gap over the next 20 years, according to calculations from the state Department of Transportation.
ST. PAUL — High-level Minnesota state negotiations just are not working. As they tried to strike a special session deal — or tried not to, some say — the two key players continually could not agree on what they had agreed to. They could not agree if the other person had returned calls. They debated by letters and through the media instead of sitting down face to face. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt used to say they liked each other. Now they all but call each other a liar.
ST. PAUL — The state entity that owns the new U.S. Bank Stadium is moving in the right direction in banning free luxury suite tickets for its officials' family and friends in Gov. Mark Dayton's view. "I think it is a very responsible way to resolve the matter," he said Tuesday, Dec. 13, after the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority announced it is working on a revised policy following Minneapolis Star Tribune stories revealing family and friends of authority officials received free access to a pair of luxury boxes.
WASHINGTON — Keith Ellison confirmed Wednesday, Dec. 7, that he would resign from the U.S. House if he is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The Minneapolis Democrat earlier had said he has the energy to remain a congressman while running the party. In recent days, however, he backed down from that and on Wednesday released a statement saying that he would quit his congressional job if elected.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans will be able to treat post-traumatic stress disorder with medical marijuana beginning next year. State Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger announced the addition on Thursday, Dec. 1, along with saying that he will allow topical applications of the drug, such as in patches and lotions.
ST. PAUL—Soaring insurance premiums apparently jolted Minnesotans into seeking federal aid to pay for their policies. The state's health insurance marketplace, MNsure, announced on Tuesday, Nov. 29, that the number of Minnesotans getting financial aid for 2017 policies tripled over this year. Rural Minnesotans especially benefit from the aid, which comes from the federal government, MNsure Allison O'Toole said in a Forum News Service interview.
WASHINGTON—Many American farmers are thankful today for an Obama administration decision to boost the amount of renewable fuels, such as made from corn and soybeans, in the country's gasoline and diesel supply. The Wednesday, Nov. 23 announcement was a turnaround for the Environmental Protection Agency, which earlier planned to require less renewable fuel to be mixed with gas and diesel.