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 -- Minnesota grew by 384,446 people in the past decade, but 15,000 is a more important number. Minnesota beat North Carolina by 15,000 people to keep its eight U.S. House seats. Had 15,000 fewer Minnesotans filled out their census forms last spring, the state would be faced with figuring out how to draw congressional district lines for just seven House seats. District lines still will be redrawn in the next year to fulfill the one person, one vote federal requirement.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota, with 5.3 million people, will keep eight U.S. House seats. The Census Bureau this morning released its 2010 population figures, which will be used to draw new congressional and legislative district lines. Many had feared Minnesota would not gain as many people as other states and would lose one of its House seats.
ST. PAUL -- A U.S. Senate staff member and former National Farmers' Union president will be the next Minnesota agriculture commissioner. Dave Frederickson was Gov.-elect Mark Dayton's pick Tuesday, ending Gene Hugoson's tenure of serving three governors. Dayton has "a deep understanding and commitment to agricultural issues," Frederickson said. "He has outstanding qualifications: a farmer, former state legislator, president of both the Minnesota and the National Farmers' Unions," Dayton said about his commissioner selection.
ST. PAUL -- The most significant federal tax bill in years passed Congress, and produced strange political bedfellows. Who would have imagined that conservative Tea Party star U.S. Rep. Michele Bachman would side with liberals Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum against a tax measure? It may have been just a little less of a surprise that conservative John Kline and liberal Jim Oberstar sided. Minnesota's senators, both Democrats, voted for the bill keeping the Bush-era tax cuts in place, although they held their noses while doing so.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's economy is improving, but don't look for it to be back at full strength any time soon. State Economist Tom Stinson predicts that the economy will not rise back to pre-recession levels for at least two more years. There has been good news for agriculture, health care and tourism industries in recent months.
ST. PAUL -- Mark Dayton already has departed from current Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's ways. While Pawlenty's staff is male-dominated, the first key appointments in the Dayton administration are all women, mostly those who worked on his campaign or transition staffs. Tina Flint Smith will be his chief of staff, the person who usually is the gatekeeper in the governor's office. She was a senior Obama campaign advisor in 2008, and held high positions in Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota; Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's office; Walter Mondale's 2002 U.S.
ST. PAUL -- Mark Dayton made one promise, in particular, hundreds of times in two years campaigning to become Minnesota's governor. It seldom differed much from what he said last January: "I promise that I will increase state funding for K-12 public education in real dollars every year I'm governor. No exceptions, no excuses." That was then, this is now: "I will do my utmost." What changed from "no exceptions, no excuses" to doing his "utmost?" Political and fiscal reality. The Democrat had been governor-elect only a couple of hours when he began to back away from campaign rhetoric.