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 -- Minnesotans may think their media report on Tim Pawlenty's potential presidential run only because he is their home-state governor, but the Republican is getting plenty of attention nationwide. Online political writers have been watching Pawlenty closely. But so have traditional media reporters. Several national reporters attended his recent Iowa debut, along with about 10 Minnesota journalists and a few from Iowa. Dan Balz, the Washington Post's big-name political reporter, is one example.
ST. PAUL -- Torrey Westrom gave Lissa Thies a simple request: learn the basics of using his mobile telephone. His Motorola Q is a typical smartphone, capable of surfing the Web, sending and receiving e-mails and handling text messages, besides being used as a telephone. Even to the most technically inclined, the nearly 50 keys are intimidating. To a blind person such as Westrom, the task becomes many times tougher.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Immigrants are important to Minnesota's economy, especially for rural areas, a new report indicates. "Immigration stimulates job creation," according to the business coalition report. "As industries expand and hire new workers, jobs are created to maintain this larger workforce and to supply its needs for goods and services. Without new, young workers, certain sectors of the economy will continue to contract.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota health officials report seven more Minnesotans died of the flu at a time when fewer cases were reported across the state. "For the second week in a row, we do have some promising indicators that we may be having a downward trend in activity," State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said. It is too early to say the H1N1 flu is on the decline, she added. But signs point to decreasing activity in both the Twin Cities and the rest of the state. In the spring, when H1N1 first was identified, the illness was concentrated in the Twin Cities.
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Key Iowa Republicans got to know Tim Pawlenty Saturday night in a speech that some considered the kickoff of his campaign in the first state to pick its presidential favorite. The Minnesota governor made no mention of his potential presidential candidacy, but harshly attacked President Barack Obama and other Democrats.
ST. PAUL -- Judy Adamec of Minnesota's Otter Tail County is a poster child for rural Internet connection problems. "I don't pay bills online because it is quicker to write a check and mail it," Adamec told a task force studying broadband service across the state. The task force's recommendations, released Friday, call for a dramatic expansion and speeding up of broadband service. The report, however, stopped short of detailing how the expansion would be funded. The report did not call for state spending, but left that option open.
ST. PAUL -- Tim Pawlenty has a lot of work to do if he is to become president. Of course, the Republican Minnesota governor who most political observers think is running for the White House must raise money. He needs to assemble a campaign team. He should prepare position papers on major national issues. And he has to court voters. But even more important, he needs to make some personal changes, communication experts say.
ST. PAUL -- It appears Minnesotans will go to the polls for the 2010 primary election in August, a month earlier than usual. A new federal law gives military and other overseas voters 45 days to deal with mail-in general election ballots, but a September primary election that leaves too little time to prepare for the general election. Several Minnesota lawmakers plan to move a bill through the 2010 Legislature soon after it convenes on Feb. 4. Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he will sign the bill as long as controversial amendments are not tacked onto it.
ST. PAUL -- The remaining partners in a South Dakota coal-fired power plant that was to provide electricity to Upper Midwestern states announced Monday they were killing the project. Big Stone II participants were Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Heartland Consumers Power District, Missouri River Energy Services and Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Otter Tail Power Co., coordinator of the project, dropped out this summer. Environmentalists who fought the plant were happy with Monday's announcement.
ST. PAUL -- The news release begged the question: Why spend up to $40 million on roadway congestion relief in the Twin Cities and only up to $5 million on improving safety of rural roads, where 70 percent of traffic fatalities occur? It is a natural question from a reporter whose work goes to 20 newspapers outside the Twin Cities. "I knew you were going to ask that question, Don," Gov. Tim Pawlenty responded. The governor quickly moved to quell any hint of urban favoritism, saying transportation spending is pretty evenly divided between the Twin Cities and the rest of Minnesota.