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—Thousands of Minnesotans play daily fantasy sports, but it is not clear whether the activity is legal. Bills in the Minnesota Legislature would list them legal as well as place regulations on operators of the games. "It puts important guardrails around the industry," Scott Ward told a House committee Thursday, March 9, before lawmakers passed it on to another panel. Ward, who represents fantasy sports juggernauts FanDuel and DraftKings, said 10 states have passed laws similar to what Minnesota lawmakers are considering.
ST. PAUL — A letter to the editor could lead to ethics charges against a Minnesota state senator. Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, said on Thursday, March 9, that he is considering asking the Senate Ethics Committee to find that Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen violated rules that ban misleading or untrue comments about a colleague.
ST. PAUL — Molly O'Neill loves being back home, even though her home lacks running water. It is just that with $500 monthly college loan payments, she said that she cannot afford plumbing in her Lutsen home in far northeastern Minnesota. "This is a problem that is not going away in the foreseeable future," she told members of a Senate committee Tuesday, May 7, with the possibility of paying off loans until she is 48, which is 15 years distant.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's poultry industry is on high alert. This week marks the second anniversary of the beginning of a bird flu outbreak that ended with more than 9 million turkey and chicken deaths. Added to that, two American poultry operations are infected with bird flu. And to top it off, the 2017 weather is eerily similar to 2015. "It is starting to feel like two years ago," State Veterinarian Beth Thompson said Wednesday, March 8.
ST. PAUL—The Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature appears ready to stop plastic bag bans. A House committee last week voted 10-7 to stop ordinances such as Minneapolis has enacted and some Duluth residents want to stop stores from putting customers' purchases in plastic bags. A Senate committee on Tuesday, March 7, heard arguments for and against the idea, delaying legislation for potential inclusion in an overall environment bill.
ST. PAUL—Many Minnesota educators do not understand how to interpret scores of state and federal mandated tests. An Office of Legislative Auditor report released Monday, March 6, included a survey showing a lack of understanding. It also showed educators questioning the usefulness of the the best-known statewide test, Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, better known as MCA.
ST. PAUL—The Minnesota House wants to overhaul how U.S. Bank Stadium is governed. Representatives voted 122-7 Monday night, March 6, to change how board members who oversee the stadium are appointed and bans free use of stadium suites by family and friends of board members. "It was touted as a people's stadium, today we are returning it to the people," bill author Rep. Sara Anderson, R-Plymouth, said.
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 — 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."