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 let out a sigh of relief Tuesday, Jan. 3, after a federal appeals court decided a lower court erred in tossing out a state law that put some of the worst sex offenders in prison-like facilities after they complete their sentences. Had the original ruling stood, the state would have scrambled to release many of the 700 sex offenders now confined in state hospitals.
ST. PAUL — 2017 dawned on the Minnesota Capitol with bright sun Sunday, Jan. 1, illuminating the newly renovated building. But the sparkle dimmed as clouds moved in Sunday, followed by a dreary, wintry Monday for most Minnesotans. Was that a forecast of things to come in the 2017 state Legislature, which begins at noon Tuesday? That is impossible to predict, but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republicans who control the Legislature have a stormy past.
ST. PAUL — Wildly popular 2016 Minnesota tax legislation would have cut farmland property taxes, increased state aid to local governments, handed tax breaks to a spouse of a disabled military veteran, reduced state property taxes and made dozens of other tax-related changes. But even with nearly 90 percent of legislators backing the measure, it never became law. Gov. Mark Dayton did not sign it because his administration discovered a costly wording mistake, and a special legislative session that could have passed the bill never materialized.
ST. PAUL — Billions of dollars in state public works construction projects are on hold, and no one knows if the Minnesota Legislature will make money available for them in 2017. The 2016 Minnesota Legislature failed to fund projects like safer rail crossings, adding to and renovating existing college facilities, improving safety at state mental health hospitals, fixing or removing dangerous dams, constructing flood-prevention structures and hundreds of other projects state and local officials say are needed.
WASHINGTON — Keith Ellison confirmed Wednesday, Dec. 7, that he would resign from the U.S. House if he is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The Minneapolis Democrat earlier had said he has the energy to remain a congressman while running the party. In recent days, however, he backed down from that and on Wednesday released a statement saying that he would quit his congressional job if elected.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans will be able to treat post-traumatic stress disorder with medical marijuana beginning next year. State Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger announced the addition on Thursday, Dec. 1, along with saying that he will allow topical applications of the drug, such as in patches and lotions.
ST. PAUL—Soaring insurance premiums apparently jolted Minnesotans into seeking federal aid to pay for their policies. The state's health insurance marketplace, MNsure, announced on Tuesday, Nov. 29, that the number of Minnesotans getting financial aid for 2017 policies tripled over this year. Rural Minnesotans especially benefit from the aid, which comes from the federal government, MNsure Allison O'Toole said in a Forum News Service interview.
ST. PAUL—Turkey talk turned thoughtful Monday, Nov. 21, as a hunger fighter said she worries about feeding Minnesotans. Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota said the number of people in the state using food shelves has reached an all-time high, and now she is concerned about discussion in Washington to remove funding from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. "I am very worried," she said during the governor's office annual ceremony denoting Thanksgiving week and honoring the state's 450 turkey farmers.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans looking to buy new Medica individual insurance policies, but have not already made the purchase for 2017, are out of luck. The state Commerce Department announced early Friday, Nov. 11, that Medica of Wisconsin and Medica Insurance Co. reached a cap on the number of new policies they are willing to sell. That means for most of the state, the companies stop selling policies to people who are not already customers.