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.
- Member for
- 4 years 8 months
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.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota farmers and agriculture-related groups ask for very little money from the state. Gov. Mark Dayton's $46 billion two-year budget proposal would give just short of $1 billion to the Agriculture Department. At the same time, agriculture provides between 20 percent and 30 percent of Minnesota's jobs and wealth and agriculture leaders say their industry could do even better with a bit more help from the state. Pat Lunemann said a priority must be "to make sure we have a level playing field with the states surrounding us."
ST. PAUL—They were words a Muslim American certainly did not want to hear: "We deported your wife and kids." A few hours later, the message changed: "The kids are fine. ... But mom will be sent back." Still more hours later, the final message became good news: "Congratulations! Your wife and kids will be released."
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—Be honest. Know what you want to say. Talk to reporters. With that, Patty and Jerry Wetterling laid out their secret to dealing with the media in the 27 years between when their son, Jacob, disappeared and his remains were found last fall in one of the country's must publicized child disappearances. The couple credited the media, especially newspapers, with helping solve their son's case.
ST. PAUL—Jared Johnson's mother and sister say his death a year ago should convince other ice anglers to think about the silent, odorless killer carbon monoxide. "This has destroyed his dad," his mother, Denice, Johnson said. "It has broken me."
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans who buy individual health insurance policies have until Tuesday, Jan. 31, to enroll for coverage this year, unless federal officials allow more time. The governor and a key health-care senator have asked the Trump administration to give Minnesotans more time. The Obama administration rejected a similar ask by fellow Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton. But state officials hope the new Republican administration will be more willing to consider it.
ST. PAUL — Raising Minnesota's next two-year budget nearly 10 percent is Gov. Mark Dayton's ask. "We must wisely invest and use our resources," his finance commissioner, Myron Frans, told reporters on Tuesday, Jan. 24, in announcing hopes to increase spending for transportation, education, local governments and other budget areas.
ST. PAUL — Here are some key areas of increased spending Gov. Mark Dayton wants in Minnesota's two-year budget that begins July 1: • $609 million for kindergarten-through-high school education programs. • $75 million to expand voluntary pre-kindergarten classes. • $84 million to expand access to child care and $61 million for child care tax credits • $318 million for Minnesota State and University of Minnesota systems for student financial aid and other needs. • $300 million in a variety of tax cuts to benefit 450,000 Minnesotans.