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 — Gov. Mark Dayton wants Minnesota schools to continue protecting transgender students' restroom rights. He urged schools to continue following Obama administration recommendations to allow transgender students to use restrooms matching their gender identity. The Trump administration on Wednesday, Feb. 22, withdrew that guidance, saying states and schools should make such decisions on their own. "This is not a state's rights issue, this is a human rights issue," Democrat Dayton said Thursday. "And it should be a constitutionally protected right."
ST. PAUL — A former Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice drew the assignment of repairing the U.S. Bank Stadium governing board's tarnished image. "I want to build on that good and not lose sight of it," Kathleen Blatz said Thursday, Feb. 23, about Gov. Mark Dayton's comments that most of what the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority has done is good.
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—A White Earth Nation judge will join the Minnesota State board of trustees. Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday, Feb. 22, named George W. Soule to fill a vacancy on the board of what had been known as the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. "George Soule has had a very distinguished career bringing justice and opportunity to people throughout Minnesota," Dayton said. "I believe that Mr. Soule will bring this dedication to ensuring excellent higher education and career training opportunities for all students at Minnesota State."
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 — Ethics discussions moved beyond the troubled U.S. Bank Stadium governing authority after its two top officials resigned. While allowing family and friends into U.S. Bank Stadium free has been center of a controversy, the Thursday, Feb. 16, resignation of the facility's chairwoman and executive director spurred discussion about other venues, too. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, said they would like to expand the freebie ban to other public facilities.
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 — A third as many trains haul North Dakota crude oil across Minnesota as two years ago. Falling oil prices forced a drop in oil output in the Bakken region in western North Dakota, which meant a dramatic drop in the number of trains needed to haul the oil to refineries to the east and south. Most North Dakota oil trains go through Minnesota.