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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High-speed broadband Internet is in demand. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith says that $70 million in requests have been made to expand broadband, mostly in rural Minnesota. That is twice as much as state lawmakers approved earlier this year. The $70 million in requests is from 60 grant applications. The available $35 million in state funding could add broadband to 12,000 more homes. Police snap on body cams Minneapolis has rolled out body cameras and all officers responding to emergency calls will wear them.
Individual health insurance policies have been hot sellers this week, but Gov. Mark Dayton says the allotment is nowhere near sold out. Insurance companies are limiting the number of new policies they sell this year to 152,000, and Dayton said on Friday, Nov. 4, that limits are not being approached. However, he offered no estimate about how long it would be before any of the three major health plans would reach their caps. When those caps are reached, insurance companies stop selling their policies and they disappear from the MNsure state health insurance sales website.
ST. PAUL—Election day may be Tuesday, but 568,196 Minnesotans already have voted. That is the word this morning from the secretary of state's office and represents the most early voters ever. This is the first presidential election in which a state no-excuse, early-voting law is in effect. The figure represents the absentee vote count plus mail-in ballots used in some rural predicts.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton blames state House Republicans for blocking $105 million in federal highway funds, but the House transportation chairman said the governor's key aides said there would be no harm in delaying the money. The Democratic governor said on Wednesday, Oct. 26, that road and bridge projects in 28 communities across the state could have been completed with the federal funds, but now will be delayed.
Voters will face more than two choices for president on Nov. 8, even though just two are well funded enough to have a chance. Minnesota voters see candidates from the Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Independence, Legal Marijuana Now, the Socialist Workers and the American Delta parties. Other than Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the candidates lack enough money to make much of an impression. Libertarian Gary Johnson has signs sprinkled around the state and the Green Party's Jill Stein has campaigned in Minnesota.
"The reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people." Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton had not even finished the sentence when political reporters knew they had a story. After all, Dayton has been a strong proponent of the federal health care law, better known as Obamacare, and pushed to establish a state online health insurance sales portal. That MNsure operation is Minnesotans' connection to Obamacare.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton do not talk much about rural issues on the campaign trail, but there is plenty of evidence showing they differ greatly on the subject. Trump generally buys into traditional Republican ideas and Clinton embraces Democratic principles. And perhaps nothing illustrates the contrast better than how they stand on federal government regulations, an issue common among farmers and miners, energy workers and homeowners. Both sides say they will work with those who affected by regulations, but that is about where the agreement ends.
The shooting deaths of two young black men at the hands of Twin Cities police officers has prompted Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to establish a council looking into how to improve law enforcement-community relations. Dayton signed an executive order establishing the 32-member council on Wednesday, Oct. 12, giving it a deadline of next February to produce recommendations that legislators could consider.
Many rural Americans, who are heavily Republican, are not happy with how President Barack Obama has dealt with their issues as he nears the end of eight years in office. The Democratic president says he has done well. "I've spent most of my life living in big cities," Obama recently wrote. "But the truth is, a lot of what's shaped me came from my grandparents who grew up on the prairie in Kansas. They taught me the kind of values that don't always make headlines, let alone the daily back-and-forth in Washington."