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 -- Torrey Westrom gave Lissa Thies a simple request: learn the basics of using his mobile telephone. His Motorola Q is a typical smartphone, capable of surfing the Web, sending and receiving e-mails and handling text messages, besides being used as a telephone. Even to the most technically inclined, the nearly 50 keys are intimidating.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota health officials report seven more Minnesotans died of the flu at a time when fewer cases were reported across the state. "For the second week in a row, we do have some promising indicators that we may be having a downward trend in activity," State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said. It is too early to say the flu, also known as swine flu, is on the decline, she added. But signs point to decreasing activity in both the Twin Cities and the rest of the state. In the spring, when H1N1 first was identified, the illness was concentrated in the Twin Cities.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Immigrants are important to Minnesota's economy, especially for rural areas, a new report indicates. "Immigration stimulates job creation," according to the business coalition report. "As industries expand and hire new workers, jobs are created to maintain this larger workforce and to supply its needs for goods and services. Without new, young workers, certain sectors of the economy will continue to contract.
DES MOINES, Iowa - Key Iowa Republicans got to know Tim Pawlenty Saturday night in a speech that some considered the kick-off of his campaign in the first state to pick its presidential favorite. The Minnesota governor made no mention of his potential presidential candidacy, but harshly attacked President Barack Obama and other Democrats.
ST. PAUL -- Sen. Tom Bakk wants to move forward with projects like a new Duluth airport terminal and construction at Lake Superior College to create jobs, and claims a special legislative session could speed the process. Jobs are important, the Cook Democrat and 2010 governor candidate said Thursday, and constructing public projects is a quick way to put people to work. Bakk was jobless during the early 1980s recession.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants the state constitution to limit spending to revenue the state actually has collected. Democrats say that is not something even the Republican governor has done in his budget proposals. Pawlenty on Thursday suggested the constitutional amendment, which would take effect after he leaves office, as a way to limit spending that has grown throughout Minnesota's modern era. "State government has been on a spending binge," Pawlenty declared. Democratic legislative leaders sounded skeptical about the proposal, but many promised to give it a full hearing.
ST. PAUL -- Tim Pawlenty's Iowa presidential caucus performance, if he runs for the White House, may hinge on whether he can hitch his star to the right Iowa governor candidate and how he deals with the hot-button gay marriage issue. While the Minnesota governor is billed as keynote speaker at Saturday night's Republican Party dinner in Des Moines, the real interest of GOP activists will be on their state's 2010 governor's race and conservative social issues, not the 2012 presidential campaign that most observers expect Pawlenty to enter. First-term Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota farmers are donating $115,000 worth of pork and cheese to food shelves around the state, taking the money out of funds that generally promote agriculture sales. In a time when pork and dairy industries are hurting as bad as they ever have, some say the largely symbolic effort could be a turning point. Soybean, pork and dairy groups joined Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Hunger Solutions Minnesota Friday to announce the cheese and pork donation, which will be handed out at food shelves statewide.
ST. PAUL -- Roy Jensen returned to the Minnesota House Friday to be honored as the oldest retired state lawmaker. "It's the first time I've been back in all these years," the 100-year-old lifelong Willmar-area resident said. Jensen, who served in the House 1951-54 and is thought to be the oldest living ex-lawmaker, received a standing ovation from a couple dozen other former lawmakers gathered for an annual mock legislative session where they debated issues like they did when they served. Former state House Speaker Martin Sabo, also a long-time member of the U.S.
ST. PAUL -- The news release begged the question: Why spend up to $40 million on roadway congestion relief in the Twin Cities and only up to $5 million on improving safety of rural roads, where 70 percent of traffic fatalities occur? It is a natural question from a reporter whose work goes to 20 newspapers outside the Twin Cities. "I knew you were going to ask that question, Don," Gov. Tim Pawlenty responded. The governor quickly moved to quell any hint of urban favoritism, saying transportation spending is pretty evenly divided between the Twin Cities and the rest of Minnesota.