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.
- Member for
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ST. PAUL — A wealthy Minnesotan who signed up for food stamps to prove people could get them even if they did not need assistance should be ashamed of himself, Gov. Mark Dayton said. "He finagled the system," Dayton said Thursday, April 12, about Rob Undersander of Waite Park, who says he is a millionaire and took food stamps for 19 months to make a point. "How easy it is? He's a smart guy, a millionaire, he obviously figured out. I mean, one person can game the system."
Minnesota's broadband situation is better than some other states, but 12 percent of Minnesotans, mostly in Greater Minnesota, have internet connection speeds slower than the state standard. "We're not taking the elevator, we are taking the stairs on this one," General Manager Dave Wolf of Gardonville Telephone Co-op of the Alexandria area said March 28, standing alongside Gov. Mark Dayton and other broadband advocates.
ST. PAUL — A stick or rabbit dropping in the yard of a Minnesota child care center, or a crayon mark on a table, may be enough to get a citation from state regulators. That is going too far, child care center workers told a state Senate committee Wednesday, March 28, and senators agreed. "If you truly want to stop the child care crisis now ... then you need to hold the Department of Human Services accountable," Elizabeth Bangert of the Here We Grow child care center in Mankato told a Senate health and human services committee.
ST. PAUL—A Republican effort to short-circuit the approval process for the Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota drew fire at a state House hearing. "We have a series of checks and balances," Michele Naar of Duluth told the House jobs and energy committee Tuesday, March 27. "We have processes and we have requirements that are set up to protect the people and the land."
ST. PAUL—Minnesota farmers are committing suicide in numbers that rival the low days of agriculture during the 1980s farm crisis. "Unfortunately, there is no end in sight," Meg Moynihan of the state Agriculture Department told the House Agriculture Finance Committee Tuesday, March 27. Moynihan coordinates the Farm and Rural Helpline, (833) 600-2670, which provides rural residents a place to call when they experience mental health problems.
ST. PAUL — Tens of thousands of Minnesota state workers will get a raise after the House and Senate approved negotiated contracts. Senators voted 56-10 Monday, May 26, to bump up pay for more than 30,000 workers by 2 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The House followed a few hours later with a 93-33 vote. About half of workers are eligible for other increases, too, Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said. The raises will not increase taxes, Sen. Erik Simonson, D-Duluth, said because the added pay would come out of existing budgets.
ST. PAUL — Many Minnesota government pension plans are paying out more than they are taking in. State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, says that is troubling. Her colleagues agreed Monday, March 26, when they unanimously approved her bill that increases funding going into the pension plans and slightly cuts some benefits. While senators were together on the issue, the pension bill has not received a House committee hearing. Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend $27 million to help shore up public pensions.
ST. PAUL — Many students say gun restrictions can help keep them safer in schools, but the Minnesota legislative conversation on safe schools has broadened to other issues, some of which bring tears when people talk about them. "We are facing a public health crisis," Carol Quinn told the state House Education Finance Committee Wednesday, March 21, with tear-filled eyes.
Ice seems simple enough: Get water cold enough and it freezes. True, but the science of ice is much more complex, especially when it is in real world bodies of water. Scientists agree on a couple of things: No ice is fully safe and the thickness, and thus safety, of ice can vary greatly in a very short distance. There is general agreement on one other fact, too. The ice season is getting shorter. One study shows a typical Upper Midwest lake will be covered with ice more than a week later than 150 years ago, and will be ice free nearly a week and a half earlier.
ST. PAUL—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took a major step forward to run for his old job on Monday, March 19, in announcing he filed campaign committee paperwork. That makes it all but certain the Republican is seeking the governor's office again. A written announcement he distributed, while refusing media interviews, follows a series of speeches in Minnesota that made it sound like he was running.