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—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.
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 — 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.