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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State officials are looking into reducing some drug sentences and whether the action could help relieve prison overcrowding. Drawing from available data, Executive Director Nathaniel Reitz of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission said that "probation may be something that may not harm public safety." Hours after Reitz told that to a prison overcrowding task force, his commission started in motion a plan that could allow some drug offenders be on probation instead of in prison and could reduce prison sentences for others. The number of prisoners held on drug crimes peaked in 2005, d
MINNEAPOLIS -- Five people were shot and injured late Monday near the Minneapolis police 4th Precinct, where protesters of a young black man's shooting have camped out for more than...
Minnesota's Revenue Department tells property owners something they already assumed: Property taxes will rise next year. The department received data from local governments indicating that overall city taxes will jump 5.2 percent, counties will be up 3.7 percent and townships plan a 2.4 percent increase. School tax levies next year are expected to be up 7.5 percent, an increase of $186 million.
The state's MNsure health insurance sales program says that what its officials have said for weeks now has a study to back them up. Interim CEO Allison O'Toole and others have promoted, heavily promoted, shopping around the MNsure Website to find the best insurance deals. Wakely Consulting Group now has released a study showing that 85 percent of this year's MNsure enrollees who do not receive government subsidies will deal with a 389 percent premium increase if they just let their current plan renew.
Two Upper Midwest Republicans broke from their colleagues early Friday to oppose a budget deal that is headed to President Barack Obama's desk. Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin opposed the bill that passed 64-35 after the House also approved the measure. Many of the "yes" votes came after House, Senate and White House leaders agreed moments before the House vote that $3 billion would be restored to the crop insurance program. U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., had called a crop insurance cut a "deal breaker" when he talked to reporters this week.
Upper Midwest farmers were happy Thursday to learn the federal government will not cut crop insurance programs. A budget bill the House approved was to have contained a $3 billion cut to crop insurance. However, farm-state federal lawmakers pressured House, Senate and White House leaders to remove it as a budget vote neared Wednesday night. "I'm pleased that we have an agreement to fix the crop insurance cuts and not open the farm bill," said U.S. Rep.
Gov. Mark Dayton was not happy Thursday. First, he questioned the wording in a federal judge's ruling that requires Minnesota to greatly speed up reforms in its sex offender treatment program. He felt Judge Donovan Frank threatened the state, not to mention that the governor disagreed with the judge's claim that the program is unconstitutional. Then there was a legislative panel's series of four 5-5 votes that killed or delayed raises for many state workers.
The Minnesota State Patrol reports that it appears more motorists are driving right on by when school buses are stopped, with lights flashing and stop arms extended. A one-day study in April showed a 65 percent increase in violations. Nearly 3,600 bus drivers participated in the survey. The patrol said that state requires drivers to stop for a school bus when lights are flashing and the stop arm is displayed. Traffic in both directions is required to stop, unless the lanes are separated by a median. College loans stop The Perkins loan program for college students ended Oct. 1 and U.S.
Leave it to "real people," as compared to lobbyists and government officials, to grab attention in legislative hearings. Youths, especially, get lawmakers' ears. At issue is a plan by the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits colleges in 19 states, to require each college instructor to hold a master's degree in the field he or she teaches or a master's degree in another field and 18 credits in the field he or she teaches by 2017.
Minnesotans who buy their own health insurance will pay more next year, in some cases a lot more. Officials of the state Commerce Department and the MNsure Web-based insurance sales site Thursday announced insurance rates for Minnesotans who buy their own policies will rise 14 percent to 49 percent. However, that only affects the 5.5 percent of Minnesotans who buy health insurance policies on the open market; most have employer-provided insurance or receive government-paid health care. The increase prompted strong reaction, ranging from Gov.