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—Minnesota's poultry industry is on high alert. This week marks the second anniversary of the beginning of a bird flu outbreak that ended with more than 9 million turkey and chicken deaths. Added to that, two American poultry operations are infected with bird flu. And to top it off, the 2017 weather is eerily similar to 2015. "It is starting to feel like two years ago," State Veterinarian Beth Thompson said Wednesday, March 8.
ST. PAUL — Molly O'Neill loves being back home, even though her home lacks running water. It is just that with $500 monthly college loan payments, she said that she cannot afford plumbing in her Lutsen home in far northeastern Minnesota. "This is a problem that is not going away in the foreseeable future," she told members of a Senate committee Tuesday, May 7, with the possibility of paying off loans until she is 48, which is 15 years distant.
ST. PAUL—The Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature appears ready to ban bag bans. A House committee last week voted 10-7 to stop ordinances such as Minneapolis has enacted and some Duluth residents want that stop stores from putting customers' purchases in plastic bags. A Senate committee on Tuesday, March 7, heard arguments for and against the idea, laying legislation over for potential inclusion in an overall environment bill.
ST. PAUL—Many low-income Minnesotans cannot afford to go to a dentist and many dentists say they cannot afford to serve those who receive state assistance. For serving the poor, Minnesota pays dentists 27 percent of what other Minnesotans pay. Because of that, many dentists no longer accept patients on Medicaid, a federal-state medical coverage program for the poor known in Minnesota as Medical Assistance. Other dentists limit how many MA patients they serve.
ST. PAUL — Bright spots abound in Minnesota's economy: Strong job demand pushes up wages, home sales are increasing, taconite from northeast Minnesota is selling again and people appear to be willing to shop. But predicting the economy's future, and its impact on state government finances, is rendered impossible given uncertainty about what the president and Congress may do.
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."