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—There is one easy prediction in Minnesota politics: The 2018 governor's race will be crowded. Nearly 20 people have said they are running, say they are considering running or at least have not rejected the notion. And it looks like both major parties will have long lists. The biggest news came late in the week when Heather Carlson of the Post-Bulletin of Rochester reported that U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who represents the southern part of the state in Washington, said he is thinking about running. He previously had avoided the topic.
ST. PAUL—Steve Sviggum is about to rejoin Dean Johnson, but the pair from opposite political parties who held the top legislative positions a decade ago say it will be different this time as they work together as University of Minnesota regents. A joint session of the Republican-controlled Minnesota House and Senate elected Sviggum, a former GOP House speaker, to the university Board of Regents Wednesday night, Feb. 22. That means he will join a board where Johnson serves as chairman.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans are closer than ever to being able to buy from liquor stores on Sundays, but state senators still need to weigh in.
ST. PAUL—Midwestern members of Congress worry about what the Trump administration may do about agriculture-related issues, especially a law requiring use of crop-based fuel. U.S.Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said she drove home that point during a recent meeting with agriculture secretary nominee Sonny Perdue. Also, a bipartisan group of representatives sent a letter to President Donald Trump saying the Renewable Fuel Standard law is critical.
ST. PAUL — It is not fair that three counties are funding a fight to allow all 87 Minnesota counties to save money, a Becker County commissioner says. "It is a bigger issue than just our county," Commissioner Barry Nelson told a state House committee Wednesday, Feb. 15, but so far a lawsuit by State Auditor Rebecca Otto has cost Becker $41,990.56 with only two other counties also funding the battle. "It is very hard for counties of our size to continue on with litigation with the state," Nelson said. "It is not Minnesotan."
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 expect 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 — Pat Lunemann said he looks over his dairy farm employees and sees "a sea a multiple colors." Many workers come from close to his Clarissa, Minn., farm, but quite a few are Latino and others bring with them various ethnic backgrounds. Immigrants are important to his farm and agriculture in general, he said. "All the people in rural America who can work already are working," he said. "If we don't have these immigrants, I don't know how we are going to function."
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.
WASHINGTON — Two Minnesota U.S. representatives are at odds over mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan on Tuesday, Jan. 31, sent a letter to a senior federal Agriculture Department official urging him to overturn a decision by the Forest Service to stop mining exploration across 234,000 acres of the Superior National Forest. Nolan serves the northeastern Minnesota area in question.