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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The year now ending was unpredictably busy in Minnesota politics, but 2018 will be predictably busy. It could set a busy record. And that is just what we know now; there is no telling what surprises lurk ahead. Be warned: Minnesota's 2018 election will be packed. You know about the two U.S. Senate races (Amy Klobuchar's seat is up and voters will pick someone to replace Al Franken). There also will be a governor's race, with an open office after Mark Dayton said he would not run again, and lots of candidates are lined up for both major parties.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's health commissioner resigned Tuesday, Dec. 19, as his department has been under fire for failing to investigate cases of nursing homes problems. Dr. Ed Ehlinger announced he is leaving at the end of the day, and Gov. Mark Dayton said he will be replaced by Deputy Commissioner Dan Pollock.
ST. PAUL — Mrs. Smith is going to Washington. Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will replace U.S. Sen. Al Franken once he resigns after eight sexual misconduct allegations. Smith plans to run in the 2018 election to fill out the final two years of Franken's term. Franken has not said just when he will step down. Last week, he said he would resign in "the coming weeks."
WASHINGTON — Al Franken was one of the most recognized U.S. senators from the day he took office in 2009, thanks to fame he gained on the "Saturday Night Live" television show, and this year his political capital rose even more with Democrats across the country promoting him as a 2020 presidential candidate. But eight women came forward in the past three weeks alleging that Franken sexually harassed them, collapsing what had become a successful political career.
PAUL — It took only minutes after the first sexual misconduct allegation was waged against Al Franken for speculation to begin about who would replace him in the U.S. Senate. That was back on Nov. 16, and the top prospect for Gov. Mark Dayton to replace Franken was Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. Other names were added in the next three weeks, but Smith's name continues to rise to the top as the governor says he has not yet decided.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Al Franken's political friends want and expect him to resign. The Minnesota Democrat plans a Thursday, Dec. 7, announcement in Washington that many political leaders expect to produce his resignation as accusations of sexual misconduct multiply.
ST. PAUL — Tuesday, Dec. 5 is a big day, at least under the Minnesota Capitol dome. It actually will be big stuff for all Minnesotans, but they barely will notice. On Tuesday comes the first of two "budget forecasts" in the next few months. It may be a ho-hum moment for many, but the two announcements are key to how much money state officials will have available to spend for the rest of the current budget cycle.
The story is that greater Minnesota loses population because there are not enough jobs. However, many greater Minnesota communities actually have plenty of jobs, leaving areas short of housing for workers that businesses and industries need. Some industries have resorted to busing in workers and some have helped finance housing in an effort to attract workers. It is a story most Minnesotans do not know, but one that keeps city and business leaders awake at night. Some experts guess that up to 7,500 new homes are needed, but no one really knows.
ST. PAUL -- A former Minnesota woman says U.S. Sen. Al Franken grabbed her buttocks while her husband was taking their photo at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. Lindsay Menz, who now lives in Texas, said on Twitter: "In August 2010, @alfranken grabbed me while taking a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair. I felt violated & embarrassed." Tweeting to radio host Leeann Tweeden, she added: "I 100% believe your account of him & his actions, ... Thank you for sharing your story."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota is far from the only state in which legislators stand accused of sexual harassment. Reports have surfaced in states coast to coast about women lawmakers, legislative staffers and lobbyists saying they have been harassed. Stateline.org reports that women in at least 16 states have made the allegations: Minnesota, South Dakota, California, Illinois, Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, Vermont, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Washington