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 governor called for making the Minnesota River "fishable and swimmable" within 10 years. That was then-Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson 25 years ago. The river is in the southern half of Minnesota where scientists still say much of the water should not be used for fishing or recreation. While the southwest faces the most water quality problems and the northeast the least, experts say no part of the state is free from such issues.
ROSEVILLE, Minn. — Minnesota students appear to be maintaining mostly steady standardized scores on reading, math and science, but whites continue to dramatically outscore minority students. Test scores are not rising much, state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said Monday, Aug. 7, in releasing the annual Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test results. "It's frustrating to see test scores slowly increasing over time, but there's more to providing a student with a well-rounded education than can be seen in a test," Cassellius said.
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn.—Mike Orbeck may be lucky: He pretty much knows what his health insurance will be next year. Many of his fellow farmers do not know what to expect as federal plans to overturn health care laws failed and the state says individual health insurance policy rates should remain about the same next year, if Minnesota gets federal approval for a new state program. Recent health insurance news, sometimes conflicting and always confusing, has those who rely on individual policies worried. Farmers are a major user of individual policies.
ST. PAUL — Maybe something will come of all the talk this time. We are hearing more about U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar visiting Iowa, which always brings up talk of presidential ambitions. But it is more than just Iowa trips. The Minnesota Democrat is being mentioned more and more by national media, many Americans see her frequent national television appearances and about 900 people like an "Amy Klobuchar for President in 2020" Facebook page. The latest is that she plans to attend a Hollywood fundraiser this weekend.
ST. PAUL -- A judge reached all the way to the Federalist Papers of 1787 to conclude Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton violated the state Constitution when he vetoed state House and Senate funding last spring. "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition," James Madison wrote in arguing in favor of the separation of powers doctrine that soon became the basis for the U.S. Constitution and was key in the Wednesday, July 19, Minnesota court decision.
ST. PAUL—Frustrated families of people who have gone missing have a chance to help law enforcement officials find their loves ones: provide DNA. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension plans four opportunities around the state, starting Saturday, July 15, in St. Paul, for people to provide DNA that authorities will put into a nationwide database to see if it matches unidentified remains that could be anywhere in the country. In Minnesota alone, more than 100 unidentified bodies are buried, BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said Tuesday.
MINNEAPOLIS — James Robinson has no doubt federally funded programs saved him. "If it wasn't for the funding of these programs ... there wouldn't be programs that say, 'You deserve to live,'" the Minneapolis resident Wednesday, July 5, told reporters and a crowd supporting Medicaid and other federal programs they fear could be cut or eliminated by Republican-written federal health care legislation. "You haven't walked a mile in my shoes," he said to those who would cut health funding. "You don't know what it is like."
PAUL — The Minnesota Legislature is preparing to sue the governor. A legislative committee plans a Friday, June 2, meeting to consider hiring a lawyer after Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed legislative funding for the next two years.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton often says that Minnesota voters sent a politically divided government to St. Paul, creating the basis for conflict. The 2017 legislative session proved him right, but the past five months also showed that opposites can compromise. The major compromise between Democrat Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature came early Friday, May 26, when they came together on a $46 billion, two-year state budget. Dayton is expected to discuss the Legislature's budget at some point on Friday, perhaps saying if he will sign all of the bills.
ST. PAUL—A gentle harmonica concert by Rep. Bob Loonan did not provide quite enough calm late Thursday, May 25, as a relatively minor issue stalled the Minnesota Legislature's drive to finish passing the state budget. The second-term state lawmaker from Shakopee played his harmonica as lawmakers gathered for what they hoped was the third and last day of what was supposed to be a one-day session. But instead of harmonica calm, lawmakers heard a screech as work stopped over a Bloomington walking and biking trail.