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's 2011 began with liberal Mark Dayton becoming governor. The next day, an ultra-conservative Legislature took the oath, the first time Republicans controlled both chambers in decades. Minnesota politicos were shocked in December with the resignations of two Republicans who helped give the GOP legislative control, with one leaving a huge stack of bills to pay and the other admitting to an improper relationship with an employee.
ST. PAUL -- Former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said she is sorry for being in a relationship with a Senate employee. "I regret more than words can express the hurt that I have caused to the people that I love, and to those who have worked and served with me over the past years," Koch said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon. The Buffalo Republican said her Thursday resignation and Friday's revelation that it followed Senate employees complaining about an inappropriate relationship "have been very difficult for me and those close to me.
ST. PAUL -- Upheaval within Senate Republican ranks could delay work on a Minnesota Vikings football stadium. "Obviously, it's a bump in the road," said Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, who is chief House point man for a stadium bill. Sen. Amy Koch, who resigned last week as majority leader, had become involved in stadium talks during the past month, Lanning said Tuesday, so without knowing who will replace her, questions arise. "Sen.
ST. PAUL -- One candidate for Minnesota Republican Party chairman dropped out Friday after being arrested a day earlier while a colorful former legislator got into the race to lead a party facing financial woes. Hearing aid company executive Brandon Sawalich, who had gained support from many GOP leaders, left the race a day after he was arrested by Minneapolis-St. Paul airport police when his pickup truck was spotted with expired license tabs. Also on Friday, information surfaced that he had settled a sexual harassment dispute out of court. Meanwhile, former state Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Amy Koch's resignation as Minnesota Senate majority leader came like a lightning bolt out of the blue. And it may have been even more shocking when word leaked out Friday that she is accused of having an improper relationship with a male Senate employee. "That would be a surprise to me," Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, said when told of the allegations. "I have always found her to be a very upstanding individual." Reporters could almost hear jaws drop Thursday night as they informed senators of the news when calling to get reaction.
ST. PAUL -- "It's probably not our finest week." With those words, the Minnesota Senate's new top Republican revealed Friday that the state's first female Senate majority leader resigned after he and others confronted her with allegations she had an inappropriate relationship with a male Senate employee. Interim Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel and three other top Republican senators told reporters that Senate staffers complained that a relationship they alleged between Sen. Amy Koch and the employee hurt the work environment. "This is a painful experience for all of us involved," Sen.
ST. PAUL -- The first woman to lead the Minnesota Senate is leaving, saying she wants to spend time with family and work in the private sector. Amy Koch, 40, shocked her colleagues Thursday when she wrote to them saying she would quit immediately as majority leader, in the job just a year, and not seek re-election to the Senate. She was not specific about why she is quitting in the letter or an interview with Forum Communications. "I just want to have an opportunity to move on to some other things," Koch said in the interview. "I want to spend some time with my daughter.
ST. PAUL -- Federal and state officials have 120 days to act against destructive Asian carp that could infest most Minnesota waters, a coalition of outdoors and environmental groups says. "I don't think it is anything we should tolerate," Jeff Forester of the Minnesota Seasonal Recreation Property Association told reporters in a Wednesday conference call.
ST. PAUL -- Trying to agree on how to fund a new Vikings football stadium is hard enough, but legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton also must deal with trying to find the facts. It's not that anyone is lying, but everyone is trying to spin their side of the story. Vikings officials keep hamming home the point that the $425 million they pledge for a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills would be the third largest team contribution ever to a National Football League stadium. On the other hand, the stadium team owner Zygi Wilf wants would be the third most expensive, too.
ST. PAUL -- Perhaps a hardy breakfast can lead to a truce between one of Minnesota's most conservative Republicans, who wants to serve in Congress, and the state's liberal Democratic governor. After a day of back-and-forth emails and letters sharply criticizing each other, Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, late Friday afternoon accepted an invitation from Gov. Mark Dayton for a fence-mending breakfast next week. The spat, the latest of several between the two politicians, was about a day care unionization vote Dayton wanted but a judge ruled was not within his power to call.