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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MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota voters will have more say about who runs for president this fall than ever. State branches of presidential campaigns are springing up in the wake of politically exciting caucuses in Iowa and a primary in New Hampshire. Most candidates will only fly over Minnesota en route to places like California and New York, states much richer in national convention delegates, but when Democrats and Republicans attend caucuses Feb.
ST. PAUL -- Twin Cities residents who took a record 77 million bus rides last year can thank their rural cousins for providing an increasing amount of the fuel. Soybean fields that dot the Minnesota landscape from Canada to Iowa more and more are the source of an oil that when mixed with diesel fuels the buses. More big-city residents are taking the bus each year, thanks to skyrocketing gasoline costs.
ST. PAUL -- Buying a "certified" used car in Minnesota actually will mean something starting Tuesday. That is when a new law begins to regulate what car dealers can call a certified car. It is part of a "car owners' bill of rights" lawmakers passed last spring, and something consumer activists and car dealers both like. "The term 'certified' was used liberally and probably loosely in the industry," Scott Lambert of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association said.
ST. PAUL -- All state highway bridges have been inspected since the Aug. 1 Minneapolis bridge collapse, missing by three weeks Gov. Tim Pawlenty's deadline. Seventeen of more than 4,000 bridges needed repairs or other actions after the inspections, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials said Friday. Pawlenty originally said he wanted all 13,026 Minnesota bridges to be inspected.
ST. PAUL -- Those behind a nationally recognized program helping to smooth soldiers' return from combat on Wednesday earned honors from the state. "None of it happens without a team of hundreds or even thousands," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said before pinning awards on 22 civilians and military personnel, including Lt. Col. Chris Fritz and his wife, Cherie, of Red Wing. Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon campaign has become "the national standard for troops returning from war," Gen. Joe Kelly said during a Wednesday ceremony. Major John Morris of Afton, the Minnesota National Guard's No.
ST. PAUL -- A Minneapolis-based law firm will lead what is described as a Watergate-like investigation into the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "We need people who are highly skilled in the art of extracting information," Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, told the Senate Rules Committee Wednesday before it voted along party lines to approve the request. The committee gave $250,000 to the probe, which will be added to a like amount from the House. The $500,000 will go to Gray Plant Mooty law firm, which once employed Democratic Sen.
ST. PAUL - A key legislative committee today approved what was described as a Watergate-like investigation of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. On a split vote, the Senate Rules Committee approved giving $250,000 to the probe. The House is expected to follow suit with a like amount. The $500,000 will go to a committee established to investigate the Aug. 1 Interstate 35W Minneapolis bridge collapse, but Sen. Steve Murphy said the investigation will go well beyond the collapse.
ST. PAUL -- The Pawlenty administration is looking to involve Minnesotans in a decision about how a proposed, and increasingly controversial, new state park would look. The Department of Natural Resources and an advisory committee are seeking public input into a new park along Lake Vermilion in northeastern Minnesota. They say they want to hear what kinds of amenities people would like to see in the park. Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced a plan to buy about 3,000 acres for a major new state park.
ST. PAUL -- Fighting between Democrats and Republicans was so intense, the two parties refused to meet in the same room. Even after envoys from the two parties worked out an agreement, Republicans and Democrats would not sign the same document, so each side prepared its own. The dispute sounds like one of several in Minnesota headlines lately.
ST. PAUL -- Politics and government may not be as foreign to Minnesota high school students as some adults think. That is especially true for students such as those from Cannon Falls High School who competed on Monday in a statewide contest testing their knowledge about the U.S. Constitution and the law. For instance, seven Cannon Falls students -- competing in the state Capitol as part of a larger school team -- answered questions about how to use modern technology in a democracy.