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 5 months
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.
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.