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 — The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a Minnesota law banning political items in and near polling places violates free speech rights. The high court announced Monday, Nov. 13, that it accepted the Minnesota Voters Alliance appeal from the 8th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld the law. The alliance sued several Twin Cities election officials and Secretary of State Steve Simon. It is one of three free speech cases the court put on its docket for early 2018.
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 — The political rhetoric has been much more substantial than changes coming to Minnesotans' 2018 health plans. The federal Affordable Care Act, known to most Americans as Obamacare, remains the law of the land. Although Minnesota officials have made some changes they say will help their constituents, most people probably will not notice a huge health insurance change.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans can begin shopping for individual health insurance policies but only to window shop, not to buy yet. Since buying insurance for people not covered by employer or government programs can be complicated, state-run MNsure has opened its website for examining and comparing 2018 insurance plans. Minnesotans may buy 2018 policies Nov. 1 to Jan. 14. Most Americans only have until Dec. 15 to pick policies.
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.
WASHINGTON -- Republican-written federal health care legislation that appeared lacking enough votes to pass is proof a bipartisan effort is needed to fix the issue, U.S.Sen. Amy Klobuchar told a national audience. "Put politics aside and put the people first," the Minnesota Democrat said during a 90-minute CNN health care legislation debate with three Senate colleagues Monday night, Sept. 25. Klobuchar used her national pulpit to urge bipartisan work to fix the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
ST. PAUL — Federal officials appear ready to approve Minnesota's request for money that would lower individual health insurance premiums, but at the same time take money away from the MinnesotaCare state-subsidized insurance program for the poor.
Editor's note: This is one of several stories about what is called a rural Minnesota health care crisis. Primary-care doctors, long the cornerstone of rural America's medical community, are becoming increasingly hard to lure. Interviews with health care leaders across Minnesota showed a combination of factors adding up to a medical doctor shortage. The shortage of primary-care physicians is everywhere, but more acute in rural areas. A lack of specialists is especially felt outside the Twin Cities.
Editor's note: This is one of several stories about what is called a rural Minnesota health care crisis. A mentally ill person should not be treated for the disease in an emergency room. Or sitting in a jail. But that is what often happens in rural Minnesota, where there are not enough health care professionals such as psychiatrists to treat them. And there are not enough psychiatric hospital beds even if the professionals were available.