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
- 5 years 3 months
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.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans have another year before they must have a Real ID-compliant driver's license to board airliners. Gov. Mark Dayton announced Wednesday, Oct. 18, that the U.S. Homeland Security Department had granted the extension. "All Minnesotans should be assured that they can continue to board commercial airplanes and access federal facilities with their existing driver's licenses or birth certificates as we work to fully implement Real ID and comply with federal requirements," Dayton said.
ST. PAUL—Both sides of the issue made a lot of noise, but in the end allowing companies to stop birth control insurance coverage may affect few Minnesotans. "Almost all Minnesota employers covered contraception before the (current federal law) and we don't expect that to change," Eileen Smith of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans said Monday, Oct. 9, after the Trump administration announced it will let firms drop the coverage. However, Planned Parenthood said the decision could lean to more pregnancies.
ST. PAUL — Most Minnesota farmers will meet the first deadline to put buffers between cropland and water. Executive Director John John Jaschke of the state Board of Water and Soil Resources announced Thursday, Oct. 5, that 94 percent of parcels will have pollution protections in place by the Nov. 1 deadline. The Department of Natural Resources has provided maps showing land that must meet this year's deadline, land adjoining rivers, many creeks and some other water. A 2018 deadline applies to public ditches, such as man made ones.
WASHINGTON — Two men with Minnesota backgrounds are set to move into their U.S. Department of Agriculture offices. The Senate late Tuesday, Oct. 3, approved the nominations of Steve Censky to be the No. 2 person in the department and Ted McKinney to become the first-ever undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs. The nominations by President Donald Trump were not controversial, but it took weeks for senators to give their blessing to the pair.
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.