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 -- 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 — Some of the strongest comments against U.S. Sen. Al Franken's inappropriate 2006 behavior toward a female entertainer came from members of his own Democratic-Farm-Labor Party. "We are incredibly disappointed in Sen. Franken," DFL Chairman Ken Martin said after West Coast broadcaster Leeann Tweeden posted on Facebook her story about the 2006 USO tour she and Franken were on. Martin said as sexual allegation reports across the country add up that "it becomes even clearer how pervasive sexual harassment is throughout our society."
ST. PAUL — Al Franken has faced allegations of improperly treating women before. In 2008, just before Franken won his first Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement to be U.S. senator, complaints arose about his writing objectionable jokes and book passages, including jokes about rape. The state party convention in June of that year endorsed him with 62 percent support, but some delegates were concerned. "They don't like distractions," then-state Sen. Keith Langseth, D-Glyndon, said of his constituents. "I'm a little uneasy about it."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislative leaders say they will limp along to the 2018 legislative session by taking money from a House-Senate commission. But, they said, they will need to immediately pass a legislative budget once they return to St. Paul Feb. 20. The comments came Thursday, Nov. 16, just after the Minnesota Supreme Court allowed to stand Gov. Mark Dayton's veto of the Legislature's $130 million two-year budget.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans soon may know if their Legislature can stay in business. The state Supreme Court plans to release an opinion at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, on a lawsuit challenging Gov. Mark Dayton's veto of legislative funding.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Senate leaders say they are preparing to lay off their employees. If the courts do not decide a funding dispute between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, Senator Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said on Wednesday, Nov. 8, that employees will receive furlough notices in December or January. "We don't take the suspension of operations of the Minnesota Senate lightly," Gazelka said. "This is not a game, but we really have no other choice today."
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn.—Abby Haley "fell in love." Jen Jensen encountered "my own personal devil." The women were talking about their addiction to opioids, powerful painkillers that Minnesota and national officials say are taking taking over so many lives that the situation has become a crisis. Many who have become enveloped in the crisis are like Haley and Jensen, who hit the depths. The two women received treatment and say they have been clean for two years.
ST. PAUL -- A southwest Minnesota native and ex-congressman, who at 65 is known as a Washington "super lobbyist," apparently is in the sights of a grand jury looking into a Russian connection to the Trump for president campaign. Vin Weber, a Republican, is being examined for his involvement in work on behalf of Ukrainian interests, The Associated Press reported late Thursday, Nov. 2. Also being examined is Democratic operative Tony Podesta.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton's action to ease problems that farmers report of getting propane brings back memories of the 2013-14 winter in which the gas was in short supply, but early indications are that this winter will not be as bad. Dayton issued an executive order this week to provide emergency relief to farmers who are having a tough time getting propane and diesel fuel delivered. The order allows trucking companies to extend their hours for the next month, although drivers cannot work longer hours than the law allows.
ST. PAUL — More than 400 Minnesotans died due to opioids last year, up from 344 a year earlier. The epidemic, a word often used to describe the situation, seems especially tough in rural parts of the state that may be less equipped to handle it. When President Donald Trump announced on Thursday, Oct. 26, that he had declared the opioid problem a nationwide "public health emergency," Minnesota leaders of both political parties hailed it as a victory.