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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PAUL — Minnesotans who do not have employer or government funded health insurance received good, but not great, news when state officials released 2018 premiums rates they will pay. Most individual insurance premiums will remain about the same as this year when Minnesotans can start buying them in a month, but many say the rates already were not affordable.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota can keep its program that indefinitely locks up sex offenders after they finish serving prison terms. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday, Oct. 2, that it will not consider a case brought by patients of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, who claimed the state cannot keep them in a prison-like setting. That means the state program is constitutional and may continue. Still, state officials said that they will continue to find ways to release sex offenders from the program after years of no releases.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Board of Teaching has not been reporting teachers' sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior with students that it uncovers. KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities reports it has found at least 17 times the board has not reported such instances since the 1980s. Board officials said they have no legal obligation to report the incidents, but political leaders say they should.
ST. PAUL — Kate Swenson says Americans do not understand what Medicaid does. For her family, "Medicaid means my son can live at home," the Cottage Grove, Minn., said Monday, Sept. 25, as Medicaid advocates gathered in Gov. Mark Dayton's office to say they worry about a Republican-written bill due to come up soon in the U.S. Senate. "If that goes away, I don't know what we would do," Swenson said. "Public schools cannot serve him. ... If we lost it, my son will regress dramatically."
ROSEVILLE, Minn. — Minnesota students appear to be maintaining mostly steady standardized scores on reading, math and science, but whites continue to dramatically outscore minority students. Test scores are not rising much, state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said Monday, Aug. 7, in releasing the annual Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test results. "It's frustrating to see test scores slowly increasing over time, but there's more to providing a student with a well-rounded education than can be seen in a test," Cassellius said.
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — Many, if not most, farmers say they like what they have seen so far in how President Donald Trump deals with agriculture. Most specifically, they like him naming Sonny Perdue agriculture secretary, although some are concerned he was the last Cabinet nomination and Perdue's department still lacks many top officials. But there is a question in many minds, when it comes to Trump and Perdue. Farmer Lester Braulick of New Ulm, Minn., put it simply during the recent Farmfest: "Is he (Trump) going to let him do his job?"
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn.—Mike Orbeck may be lucky: He pretty much knows what his health insurance will be next year. Many of his fellow farmers do not know what to expect as federal plans to overturn health care laws failed and the state says individual health insurance policy rates should remain about the same next year, if Minnesota gets federal approval for a new state program. Recent health insurance news, sometimes conflicting and always confusing, has those who rely on individual policies worried. Farmers are a major user of individual policies.
ST. PAUL—Infrastructure is becoming a Washington, D.C. hot topic. And no one is discussing it more than rural America's lawmakers. "A strong rural infrastructure is necessary for our rural areas to remain vital but our rural economy faces unique infrastructure challenges," U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said as the House Agriculture Committee discussed the topic on Wednesday, July 19.
ST. PAUL -- A judge reached all the way to the Federalist Papers of 1787 to conclude Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton violated the state Constitution when he vetoed state House and Senate funding last spring. "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition," James Madison wrote in arguing in favor of the separation of powers doctrine that soon became the basis for the U.S. Constitution and was key in the Wednesday, July 19, Minnesota court decision.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota law enforcement officers are not trigger happy, Gov. Mark Dayton says, but money lawmakers approved for police training earlier this year could help them react appropriately to instances like have resulted in civilian deaths in recent years.