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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FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - Most Minnesota State Fair visitors smile, but Laura Olson beamed. Olson stood outside a glass-enclosed, refrigerated booth containing one of her three daughters and a sculptor. It was a first-day-of-the-fair tradition Thursday, sculpting in a 90-pound butter block the likeness of Princess Kay of the Milky Way. For the Olsons, the fair itself is a tradition.
ST. PAUL - So far, Minnesota pandemic flu cases have centered on the Twin Cities, they typically have affected younger people and most cases have not been severe. But state health officials warn that the H1N1 "swine" flu outbreak expected this fall may be different and anyone could be affected. "We want the citizens to be motivated, but not frantic..." Health Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan said.
ST. PAUL - Minnesotans can go to a Web site to get an idea about how much health-care providers charge for some services. A hundred of the most common health services are priced on the Minnesota Community Measurement Web site. The average prices are in addition to some quality ratings that have been on the site since 2004. Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the information will help Minnesotans be better health consumers, and thus will force down health-care prices. Not knowing how much a service will cost "is a great frustration," the governor said.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota leaders are bracing for a fiscal fallout as federal policymakers debate health-care reform proposals costing $1 trillion. Most state governments, including Minnesota, faced huge deficits as they wrote new budgets this year.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty has asked federal authorities to help the pork industry, mostly encouraging them to work out better international trade deals. The Minnesota Republican stopped short of what nine of his colleagues, including those from Iowa and Wisconsin, asked: increasing spending on pork for federal community programs.
ST. PAUL - Don't plan to attend a health-care reform meeting with U.S. Reps. Tim Walz and John Kline standing side by side. Kline's office questions the real reason for the Walz invitation for a joint public meeting. "That we received his invitation on the same day it was released to the press leads me to question if there was ever a good faith intent on Mr. Walz's behalf," Kline spokesman Troy Young said.
BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. - Minnesota schools should learn from the suicide of a St. Louis teenager and more than a dozen others that cyberbullying is serious business, according to an expert on the subject. School leaders need to act now to prevent cyberbullying, Parry Aftab told those at the Minnesota School Board Association's annual meeting Friday.
MINNEAPOLIS - Nick Tow-Arnett knows Sept. 12 will be a special day. That is when the Redwood Falls, Minn., native and his teammates first run into the new University of Minnesota football stadium to play a game. The 6-foot-2, 247-pound senior tight end knows the TCF Bank Stadium will offer a different feel than he has experienced down the street in the Metrodome. "It's absolutely ridiculous when you walk in there," Tow-Arnett said. "It is absolutely amazing. The field is phenomenal. You can see all of the Minneapolis buildings and stuff through the horseshoe. It looks sweet.
ST. PAUL - One headline said Gov. Tim Pawlenty "declined" an invitation to meet with current and former governors and legislative leaders. Another said he "rejected" the idea. It was more like he tore up the invitation into little bits and threw it away. Then burned it. And buried the ashes. Figuratively, at least. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, both Minneapolis Democrats, invited Pawlenty and all former governors, majority leaders and speakers to a summit to discuss economic woes the state faces.