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 -- Distracted drivers attract the full attention of the Minnesota State Patrol. Five new unmarked cars were added to the patrol fleet Monday so troopers can better find distracted drivers, such as those using mobile telephones and not paying as much attention to the roads as they should. Patrol officials say the unmarked cars will help save lives and protect motorists.
It's like weather and public safety officials planned a storm to pass through the Upper Midwest this week. Some snow is expected Tuesday night in the western Dakotas, moving east into Minnesota and Wisconsin Wednesday and Thursday. Nothing big is predicted, just enough snow to put the exclamation point on Minnesota and Wisconsin's Winter Weather Awareness Week, an event that comes after it was noted in North Dakota and South Dakota.
ST. PAUL -- MNsure leaders promise Minnesotans will have an easier time signing up for health insurance on its Website when enrollment begins next month. "My eyes are fully focused on improving the consumer experience," interim MNsure CEO Allison O'Toole said Thursday to a legislative committee charged with overseeing the online health insurance sales system.
ST. PAUL -- A Minnesota official last month ruled that he has no authority to allow police body camera videos to be private, but this month his department released guidance showing some of it can, indeed, be kept from the public.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Vikings stadium construction is 75 percent done and events already are on the calendar for the first few months after it opens next July. And the facility, dubbed U.S. Bank Stadium, is being credited with nearly $1 billion in downtown Minneapolis development even before it is enclosed.
ST. PAUL -- A Delaware payday loan company that charged Minnesota customers up to 1,369 percent annual interest must follow Minnesota law, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The court opinion agreed with a local judge and the state Appeals Court that Minnesota law does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on states regulating interstate commerce. Justices decided that much of the loan transaction occurred in Minnesota, even though Integrity Advance is based in Delaware.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota officials make it clear that they will not obey an upcoming federal judge's order about how to make the state sex offender treatment program unconstitutional. Instead, they will appeal the order, which Judge Donovan Frank will issue in October after ruling in June that the sex offender program violates the U.S. Constitution.
ST. PAUL -- Finding gasoline mixed with higher percentages of ethanol soon will be easier for Upper Midwest motorists. A federal grant is due to help fund 620 new "blender pumps" around Minnesota that can dispense fuels with 15 percent to 85 percent ethanol content. That is third to the number of pumps the federal program will help install in Texas and Florida.
If it is September, then elected officials in Washington must be talking about short-term budget fixes. In what has become commonplace, Congress will not approve a full budget by the time the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, but lawmakers representing the Upper Midwest are optimistic they will succeed in passing highway funding this fall.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators could not decide whether video from police-worn body cameras should be public, so cities across the state are asking the Dayton administration to keep most private. Sixteen cities this week asked Administration Commissioner Matt Massman to order that the video be private until legislators can settle the issue.