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 — The Minnesota court system's leader says she fears state residents will feel an impact if legislative budget proposes become law. Chief Justice Lorie Gildea of the Minnesota Supreme Court said she does not want to return to the days when criminals were set free because courts could not wade through cases quickly enough. "Justice delayed is justice denied," the Plummer native said, recalling tough budget times in 2011 when some criminal cases were stalled so long that suspects were released.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans who like neat hair may not like it, but the state blessed with strong winds is saving money by using it to create more electricity every year. The American Wind Energy Association announced Wednesday, April 19 that more than 15 percent of the state's electricity comes from wind power. That figure is predicted to double by 2021. Minnesota's largest electric utility, Xcel Energy, produces 19 percent of its power by wind, expected to increase to 34 percent in five years.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's ability to get products to market will be at risk if state lawmakers and the governor fail to break a transportation funding impasse, county officials warn. "Our harvest, timber and manufactured products have gained and held leadership positions in world markets because we have historically been able to move products out of the field, forest and factory more efficiently than competitors," Douglas County Commissioner Jim Stratton said. "But that is rapidly changing as time is catching up with decades of underfunding our local road system."
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans involved in the once-every-decade federal census say now is time to take action so people do not find themselves victims of a bad 2020 April fool's joke. In 2020, April 1 is Census Day, when all Americans are supposed to be counted in a ritual required by the U.S. Constitution. But some in Minnesota fear that federal funding shortfalls, using the internet to fill out census forms and other factors could mean many Minnesotans will be missed.
PAUL — Tim Miller says he beat the odds before and he can do it again as he runs for the U.S. House seat long held by Collin Peterson. Miller said he is different from a string of Republicans that Democrat Peterson has beat every two years since 1990.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota state auditor says Roseau and Hubbard county financial audits conducted by private accountants need to be done again, but a report containing the recommendation has received plenty of pushback. "We are watching out for the taxpayers," Auditor Rebecca Otto said in a Tuesday, April 4, interview. The report she issued has page after page of what she said are problems with audits in eight counties of the 26 that use private auditors instead of her office.
ST. PAUL—U.S. Rep. Tim Walz says he is running for governor, giving Democrats a candidate from greater Minnesota, where Republicans dominated in 2016. Walz made his announcement in a Monday morning, March 27, interview with the Post-Bulletin of Rochester. "I think now more than ever people are just wanting (government) to work," Walz said. "They are not looking for the partisanship. They are not looking for me to have all the answers, but they are certainly looking for me to bring people together to find those solutions that we all know are there."
ST. PAUL — The debate is familiar to Minnesotans: Keep or dump MNsure, the controversial state-run program that sells individual health insurance policies. Now, Minnesota leaders also are looking at a middle ground that would keep a state insurance sales program, but turn much of the work over to private business. The proposal by Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, somewhat resembles a route MNsure itself is considering, but enough questions remained at week's end to make it unclear how much chance it has.
ST. PAUL—There is no debate about a need to infuse money into Minnesota transportation projects, but plenty of division among the major players in how to get that money. Little has changed in the past three years. Republicans in control of the state House and Senate have updated their plans of the past two years to take money now going to other state programs to boost spending on roads and bridges, and borrowing other funds. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton still wants to raise the gasoline tax for roads and bridges and a Twin Cities sales tax for transit.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota representatives have moved legislation that would require insurance companies to usually fund medicine a doctor prescribes. A bill by Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, would limit the power of benefit managers, who control costs for insurance companies, to deny prescriptions during an insurance policy's term. On an overwhelming voice vote, the House moved the bill out of the Commerce Committee, whose chairman would not give the bill a hearing. It now is in a more friendly health and human services committee.