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 year now ending was unpredictably busy in Minnesota politics, but 2018 will be predictably busy. It could set a busy record. And that is just what we know now; there is no telling what surprises lurk ahead. Be warned: Minnesota's 2018 election will be packed. You know about the two U.S. Senate races (Amy Klobuchar's seat is up and voters will pick someone to replace Al Franken). There also will be a governor's race, with an open office after Mark Dayton said he would not run again, and lots of candidates are lined up for both major parties.
Drug addicts may be able to partially blame their ancestors. "Genetics has a huge amount to do with who has a problem and who ends up getting addicted," said Dr. Sheila Specker, a University of Minnesota psychiatrist.. While genetics may not push someone into opioids instead of, say, cocaine, they can be a factor in just being hooked. Doctors cannot predict who will be most vulnerable to addiction, Specker said. Some people can take an opioid or other drug and not be affected, while others declare: "This is great, I feel wonderful."
ST. PAUL—Oh, what a year 2017 was in Minnesota politics. It all started innocently enough, with the state Capitol re-opening after years of a $310 million renovation. Politicians of all stripes walked into the building on Jan. 2, agreed that the Capitol was a magnificent building, now better than when it was built in 1905.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's health commissioner resigned Tuesday, Dec. 19, as his department has been under fire for failing to investigate cases of nursing homes problems. Dr. Ed Ehlinger announced he is leaving at the end of the day, and Gov. Mark Dayton said he will be replaced by Deputy Commissioner Dan Pollock.
ST. PAUL — Mrs. Smith is going to Washington. Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will replace U.S. Sen. Al Franken once he resigns after eight sexual misconduct allegations. Smith plans to run in the 2018 election to fill out the final two years of Franken's term. Franken has not said just when he will step down. Last week, he said he would resign in "the coming weeks."
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's governor and soon-to-be lieutenant governor will sit down to discuss their relationship, and potential constitutional conflict, over pictures of their grandchildren. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota Senate President Michelle Fischbach, a Paynesville Republican, plan a Friday, Dec. 15, lunch at the governor's residence to discuss a rare relationship between a Democratic governor and Republican No. 2.
PAUL — It took only minutes after the first sexual misconduct allegation was waged against Al Franken for speculation to begin about who would replace him in the U.S. Senate. That was back on Nov. 16, and the top prospect for Gov. Mark Dayton to replace Franken was Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. Other names were added in the next three weeks, but Smith's name continues to rise to the top as the governor says he has not yet decided.
ST. PAUL -- Al Franken apologized about how he treated women. "I've had some tough conversations this week," Franken said, adding that "it kills me" that Minnesotans could not count on him to champion women. "I'm sorry for that, because that's not who I am," Franken said.
ST. PAUL — Here are some key dates in U.S. Sen. Al Franken's sexual misconduct allegations: Nov. 16: Los Angeles radio host says Franken forced a kiss on her during a 2006 USO tour in the Middle East. She also posted online a photo showing Franken's hands above her breasts. Franken apologized for the photo, but said he did not remember the kiss incident like the radio host. The senator begins spending time out of the public eye with family, which lasted for about a week and a half.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Al Franken's political friends want and expect him to resign. The Minnesota Democrat plans a Thursday, Dec. 7, announcement in Washington that many political leaders expect to produce his resignation as accusations of sexual misconduct multiply.