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 — A former Minnesota House speaker will become Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's fifth justice on the seven-member state Supreme Court. Dayton announced Tuesday, April 17, that Rep. Paul Thissen will become justice. He has been in the state House 16 years and a lawyer 25 years. Dayton and Thissen said the Minneapolis man's time in the Legislature means he has traveled the state, talking to thousands of people, which will help him as justice.
ST. PAUL — Legislative Republicans are fighting a Dayton administration proposal to restrict farmers' use of nitrate fertilizers. The GOP-controlled Minnesota House voted 69-56 Monday, April 16, to require legislative approval before nitrate limits proposal by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton can be adopted. Dayton he wants the rule because "clean and safe drinking water is the right of every Minnesotan."
ST. PAUL—Kris Sundberg's story is tough to hear. Her father was in an assisted living center. Newspapers piled up outside his door and he did not go to the dining room for a week. Finally, a neighbor urged staff to check on him. Once they did, they found he was dead, apparently for seven days. It was so bad, Sundberg said, that a hazardous materials team had to clean the room before the family could remove belongings. Minnesota does not regulate assisted living facilities such as where her father lived.
ST. PAUL — John Jaschke learned a valuable lesson the other day: Don't rush so fast that you skip over important details. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, known as BWSR, executive director told Forum News Service that mistakes happen when you hurry. Not only do mistakes happen, he learned, but in some instances state leaders may condemn you in the harshest of terms.
ST. PAUL—Appropatiing nearly $1 million is a life and death matter, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says. The governor on Thursday, April 12, asked lawmakers to quickly find that money so a statewide suicide hotline can remain in operation. It was one of several topics he discussed during a session with Capitol reporters. Crisis Connection is the only center in Minnesota taking calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and it will be forced to start shutting down May 21 unless it gets funding help.
ST. PAUL — Jessie Diggins won a historic Olympic medal on Feb. 21, and Minnesota's leaders gave her a hero's welcome when she visited the "people's house." Diggins, from Afton, landed back in Minnesota for the first time since she won the first Olympic medal of any American woman cross-country skier and hours later was in the Capitol on Thursday, April 12. Holding her medal next to her face, she said: "I am here to celebrate this and cross country skiing in Minnesota."
ST. PAUL—The mummified monkey mystery may remain unsolved. On Thursday, April 12, two potential answers surfaced to how the remains of a monkey got in the 116-year-old former Dayton's department store building in downtown Minneapolis. Gov. Mark Dayton, who worked at his family's store in the summer of 1968, told reporters that the store put together a rainforest display with monkeys and birds to attract customers. However, he said, "somebody did not figure out that monkeys were carnivores. I won't get into graphic details."
ST. PAUL — A wealthy Minnesotan who signed up for food stamps to prove people could get them even if they did not need assistance should be ashamed of himself, Gov. Mark Dayton said. "He finagled the system," Dayton said Thursday, April 12, about Rob Undersander of Waite Park, who says he is a millionaire and took food stamps for 19 months to make a point. "How easy it is? He's a smart guy, a millionaire, he obviously figured out. I mean, one person can game the system."
ST. PAUL—Millionaire Rob Undersander sat at a Minnesota House witness stand saying he received food stamps for 19 months to prove a point: Not everyone who gets the aid needs it. Democratic legislators did not like his Wednesday, April 11, testimony, particularly Rep. John Considine, D-Mankato. "You knew this was wrong and you did it anyway," Considine said while staring at Undersander. "I find it pretty despicable. .... I am just sorry there is no way we can prosecute you."
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's lieutenant governor, who says her main job is state senator, is being sued a second time for holding both positions. A constituent of Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, filed suit, saying the state Constitution clearly says that one person cannot hold offices in two branches of government. The lieutenant governor is in the executive branch with the governor, while a senator serves in the legislative branch as one of 201 lawmakers. Fischbach is Senate president.