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—The Minnesota House wants to overhaul how U.S. Bank Stadium is governed. Representatives voted 122-7 Monday night, March 6, to change how board members who oversee the stadium are appointed and bans free use of stadium suites by family and friends of board members. "It was touted as a people's stadium, today we are returning it to the people," bill author Rep. Sara Anderson, R-Plymouth, said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota students, no doubt, think they are tested too often, and now the state legislative auditor says those concerns should be studied further The state Education Department "should gather information from school districts and charter schools on the local costs and impacts of administering state-mandated tests, and use these data to inform policy decisions," the Monday, March 6, report concluded.
ST. PAUL—U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Russia problems became big news the past few days thanks to Sen. Al Franken. The Minnesota Democrat asked Sessions about the Donald Trump presidential campaign's ties to Russia. Since Sessions was close to the campaign, Franken thought it a legitimate question as senators weighed whether to approve Sessions to be attorney general.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's local government officials say searching the eBay online auction site for voting machine parts is not the best way to keep the foundation of democracy running smoothly. The company that made much of Minnesota's voting equipment, especially for disabled voters, has moved on to newer technologies and parts for machines used in most Minnesota polling places are hard to find.
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—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's prostate-removal surgery was successful Thursday, March 2, his office reported. "Gov. Dayton's surgery went as planned," Dayton's Deputy Chief of Staff Linden Zakula said. "The procedure concluded at approximately 11:30 this morning. The governor is resting comfortably at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. As he recovers, he will be joined by his family and remain at the hospital overnight." Dayton was diagnosed with prostate cancer last month and opted to have the prostate removed over other treatment options.
ST. PAUL — The state board that works to improve northeast Minnesota's economy could be unconstitutional, the legislative auditor said nearly a year ago, and efforts continue to changes its structure. "The agency is an executive branch agency, but is governed by a board of legislators," Rep. Sandy Layman, R-Cohasset, said Wednesday, March 1, before her bill reforming the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board passed its first committee vote.