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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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.
ST. PAUL -- Relations between American Indian tribes and the federal government have turned around since Barack Obama became president, tribal leaders said Thursday night after a two-day St. Paul conference. "A breath of fresh air," Judge Theresa Pauley of the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington state said about the Obama administration's pledge to work closer with American Indians and fulfill federal promises.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota health officials confirmed two more deaths from H1N1 flu Wednesday as more schools report flu outbreaks and the number of people hospitalized continues to rise. While the Health Department will not provide specific identifications, the family of Oliver Franklin Finley, 11, of Hastings reported he died of H1N1. He had other health problems. Also, Mike Milbrath, 54, a south-central Minnesota hospital administrator who had no other health conditions died in Mankato.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota transportation officials want more private companies to pay part of the construction bill for highway projects. Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel Tuesday said his department is working on a formal method for the state and private companies to work together to fund projects such as interstate exchanges. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sorel's boss, ordered the Minnesota Department of Transportation to increase the use of public-private partnerships, which he called P3.
EAGAN -- If a product dreamed up by an 11-year-old boy and manufactured in a 900-population community known as the Moose Capital of the North can successfully be shipped around the world, other small Minnesota businesses could do the same. That was the message Monday from Glen Brazier, Mattracks founder and chief executive officer, to a couple hundred small business officials. At the top of the list of how to replicate his accomplishment: Use federal government programs designed to expand the country's exports.