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 — Minnesota's ability to get products to market will be at risk if state lawmakers and the governor fail to break a transportation funding impasse, county officials warn. "Our harvest, timber and manufactured products have gained and held leadership positions in world markets because we have historically been able to move products out of the field, forest and factory more efficiently than competitors," Douglas County Commissioner Jim Stratton said. "But that is rapidly changing as time is catching up with decades of underfunding our local road system."
ST. PAUL—Rules governing high school students who transfer so they can play on better sports teams need to be tightened, a state audit recommends. The Office of Legislative Auditor said the Minnesota State High School League and Legislature should make law, rules and procedure changes so student transfers can be handled fairly. "We think the league needs to have more transparency in its rule making processes," Judy Randall of the auditor's office told the House Education Innovation Policy Committee Tuesday, April 4.
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. "I did move back to my hometown and I love it there," 33-year-old O'Neill said, even though she cannot afford everything she may want.
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.
Minnesota representatives lifted their glasses to Sunday liquor store sales, the first time either chamber of the state Legislature has approved removing a ban that dates back to statehood. With an 85-45 Monday, Feb. 20 House vote, attention now turns to see whether senators also want to overturn the sales prohibition. House members voted 70-56 last year against dumping the law, giving supporters of the legislation hope because of the massive turnaround.
ST. PAUL — Cindy Woldstad lived in pain, then became hooked on opioid painkillers. While being treated in Hibbing, doctors only wanted to give her "pills, pills, pills, pills," she told a Minnesota House committee Tuesday, Feb. 21, during a day in which fighting opioid addiction was in the Minnesota Capitol spotlight. She did not want to leave bed, and certainly did not want her grandchild to see her in pain and know of her addiction. "I lived in bed ... because I was so drugged up from these pills." However, Wolstad said, she wanted more of a life.
A third as many trains haul North Dakota crude oil across Minnesota as two years ago. Falling oil prices forced a drop in oil output in the Bakken region in western North Dakota, which meant a dramatic drop in the number of trains needed to haul the oil to refineries to the east and south. Most North Dakota oil trains go through Minnesota.
Jared Johnson's mother and sister say his death a year ago should convince other ice anglers to think about the silent, odorless killer carbon monoxide. "This has destroyed his dad," his mother, Denice, Johnson said. "It has broken me."
ST. PAUL — No one wants to celebrate a 70th birthday with a new cancer diagnosis and recent history of fainting on statewide television. But that is what Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton faces Thursday, Jan. 26, when that landmark day arrives.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton collapsed during his State of the State speech Monday night, Jan. 23, but after a few minutes walked away with help. An hour later, he was playing a puzzle with his grandson at his official state residence. "He quickly recovered, walked out of the Capitol, and returned home," his chief of staff, Jaime Tincher, said an hour and a half after the incident. "EMTs joined the governor there, and performed a routine check. He is now spending time with his son and grandson."