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 -- Loni Kemp is an example of what farmers and other self-employed Minnesotans face: an ever-increasing health insurance bill and no way to get around it. The 63-year-old consultant, who lives in southeast Minnesota's Canton, said that in 2015 she and her husband had a family insurance plan costing $18,000 annually.
ST. PAUL -- That punch to the gut 250,000 Minnesotans felt Friday, Sept. 30, came from news that their health insurance premiums will rise up to 67 percent next year. Friday's punch comes after nearly half of the same people felt similar pain this summer when Blue Cross Blue Shield told them it was eliminating all but one of its individual health policies, forcing them to go insurance shopping.
ST. PAUL -- Unionized home care attendants want the state to increase their base pay to $15 an hour and fund for more training, even as some of their colleague seek to disband the union. Contract talks with the state begin Friday, Sept. 30. Workers and their clients told reporters on Wednesday that the improvements are needed to stop a home care crisis. "People with disabilities are not receiving all of the care they need," Corey Van Denburgh said. "Our loved ones’ health is being put at risk."
ST. PAUL -- A conservative group says Minnesota's taxes are the 46th most competitive in the country. The Tax Foundation reported on Wednesday, Sept. 28, that when considering corporate, individual income, sales, property and unemployment insurance taxes, Minnesota finished near the last. Only Vermont, Washington, D.C., California, New York and New Jersey have worse business tax climates, the foundation reported.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans must be eager to vote in the Nov. 8 election. Nearly 47,000 registered to vote online last week, with about 27,000 on Friday, Sept. 23, alone, smashing the one-day record of 7,602. Secretary of State Steve Simon announced the figures on Monday, Sept. 26.
ST. PAUL—A new Minnesota presidential poll continues to show a closer contest than is common in the state, with Hillary Clinton up by 7 points. However, if Minnesota voters are like Americans in general, half were waiting for debates to begin to make up their minds. A just-released SurveyUSA poll from the Twin Cities' KSTP-TV indicates that if the election were held before the Monday, Sept. 26, opening presidential debate that 46 percent would vote for Democrat Clinton while 39 percent were behind Republican Trump.
ST. PAUL—A recent drive through Cheyenne, Wyo., included a familiar scene to a Minnesota Capitol insider: a Capitol building undergoing renovation. At least eight state Capitols, as well as the U.S. Capitol, are undergoing renovations or the work was completed recently. Kansas City-based JE Dunn Construction Co. is overseeing, or at least has a hand in, a majority: Minnesota, Wyoming, Kansas, Oregon, Oklahoma and North Dakota.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- No link has emerged between terrorist groups and the man who stabbed 10 people in a St. Cloud mall Saturday night, Sept. 17. St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson told reporters Monday that he will let the public know quickly if investigators find a connection between the suspect in the stabbings, identified by fellow Somali-Americans as Dahir Adan, and terrorist groups such as ISIS. An ISIS-related news agency called Adan a soldier of the organization, but did not indicate he had prior contact with it.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota is about to increase its campaign warning about the dangers of pain killers known as opioids. State officials also plan to work with medical and pharmaceutical professionals about the risks of overprescribing the drugs. The state announced Monday, Sept. 19, it is receiving $2.5 million from the federal government to fight heroin and prescribed pain killers such as morphine, codeine, methadone, OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Fentanyl and buprenorphine.
ST. PAUL -- A new Minnesota Poll shows Donald Trump closing Hilary Clinton's lead in the state, which mirrors national polls showing the presidential race tightening. The Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll indicates Clinton would receive 44 percent of the vote and Trump 38 percent if the election were held now. North Dakota native Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico governor, received 12 percent support, although more than a quarter of those surveyed said they did not know who he is.