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—The University of Minnesota wants the state to help fund routine repairs and for the first time in years is not seeking new buildings. "There are no new bright shiny projects in this," university President Eric Kaler said Wednesday, Feb. 21, about the school's public works funding requests. "We want to renew what we have." With buildings across the state that combined are about the same size of five Mall of Americas, Kaler said many facilities are more than 50 years old and built in times when students and professors had different needs.
ST. PAUL — The chance of winning a special election, and thus taking control of the Minnesota Senate, will be a major factor as Democrats decide if and when to sue the Senate president, who also is lieutenant governor. On the first day of the 2018 legislative session Tuesday, Feb. 20, one senator protested the fact that Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, remains in the Senate after she automatically became lieutenant governor when that job opened. No formal action was taken against Fischbach.
ST. PAUL—Ice seems simple enough: Get water cold enough and it freezes. True, but the science of ice is much more complex, especially when it is in real world bodies of water. Scientists agree on a couple of things: No ice is fully safe and the thickness, and thus safety, of ice can vary greatly in a very short distance.
ST. PAUL—Joel Schaberg can be forgiven if shivers go through his body when he thinks back to that early December 2017 day. "We got sick of waiting for the lakes to freeze over," Schaberg recalled about an early-season ice-fishing adventure. "It felt safe and it was shallow, so if you fell in it was no big deal." But Forest Lake, in a Minnesota town of the same name, was not ready for ice anglers, as he and a friend discovered. They thought they were ready, knowing the dangers. They did not just walk onto the lake, but used kayaks instead.
ST. PAUL — It is dangerous to draw too many conclusions from precinct caucuses, especially from non-binding straw polls conducted there, but one fact stands out from this week's caucus night: Almost three times as many Democrats showed up at the Tuesday, Feb. 6, caucuses than Republicans. That could be a scary fact for the GOP, whose loyalists are known for turning out.
ST. PAUL -- Second-time Minnesota governor candidate Jeff Johnson easily won a Tuesday, Feb. 6 straw poll, but could face a bigger obstacle in coming weeks: Tim Pawlenty. With all votes tallied from Republican precinct caucuses throughout Minnesota, Johnson had 45 percent of the vote of nearly 11,000 caucus attendees.
ST. PAUL—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty stole the spotlight from Republican candidates in the governor's race Tuesday, Feb. 6, hours before party loyalists gather to pick their favorite candidate in a straw poll. The two-term Republican governor made a surprise announcement Tuesday morning that he will leave the Financial Services Roundtable next month. As leader of the Washington-based group, Pawlenty has been spokesman and lobbyist for financial services companies.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota would seem to have an outsized influence on the next farm bill. Both of the state's senators are on that body's Agriculture Committee and three of the state's eight congressmen are on the House farm panel, including Rep. Collin Peterson, the top-ranking Democrat and former chairman. All Minnesotans on the committees are Democrats, in a Congress controlled by Republicans. However, agriculture policy, including the farm bill, usually is decided on a bipartisan basis.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota state Senate President Michelle Fischbach calls herself "acting lieutenant governor," but has not talked publicly about the job she just inherited. The Republican senator issued a statement Wednesday, Jan. 3, giving no indication that she plans to be an active No. 2 to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
WASHINGTON — Tina Smith raised her right hand and swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, replacing Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken after a series of allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct. She took her oath at 11:04 a.m. Central time Wednesday, Jan. 3, becoming the 22nd female senator. That is a record number of women serving at the same time in the 100-member body. Smith was sworn in along with Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat elected in a special election last month.