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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REDWOOD FALLS, Minn.—Mike Orbeck may be lucky: He pretty much knows what his health insurance will be next year. Many of his fellow farmers do not know what to expect as federal plans to overturn health care laws failed and the state says individual health insurance policy rates should remain about the same next year, if Minnesota gets federal approval for a new state program. Recent health insurance news, sometimes conflicting and always confusing, has those who rely on individual policies worried. Farmers are a major user of individual policies.
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — Bob Worth barely kept his composure as he revealed two close friends, both fellow farmers, recently committed suicide. They killed themselves over agriculture stresses, he said, speaking as part of a panel discussion about challenges of farming. "Don't ever do that to your family," he urged farmers in the Tuesday, Aug. 1, audience at Farmfest, an annual agricultural event in southwestern Minnesota.
ST. PAUL—"A bridge in America just shouldn't fall down." The often-quoted comment by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was what Minnesotans thought 10 years ago when the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis did just that. But state leaders did not stop with talk, they began taking action to prevent more bridge disasters the day after the Aug. 1, 2007, collapse. They started inspecting every bridge in the state, then fixing and replacing those most in need.
ST. PAUL — Maybe something will come of all the talk this time. We are hearing more about U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar visiting Iowa, which always brings up talk of presidential ambitions. But it is more than just Iowa trips. The Minnesota Democrat is being mentioned more and more by national media, many Americans see her frequent national television appearances and about 900 people like an "Amy Klobuchar for President in 2020" Facebook page. The latest is that she plans to attend a Hollywood fundraiser this weekend.
WASHINGTON — Minnesota's two U.S. senators voted with all other Democrats against the Senate debating a federal health care law rewrite Tuesday, July 25, pleading to allow the two parties to work together, and a former Republican senator agreed with them. "We can still stop this," Sen. Amy Klobuchar declared shortly after the vote. "We can still put aside partisanship and instead work together on bipartisan solutions, like lowering the cost of prescription drugs and strengthening the exchanges."
ST. PAUL—Minnesota House members will get pay raises after all. House Speaker Kurt Daudt announced Friday night, July 21, that he will instruct House staffers to begin paying representatives $45,000 a year, matching what senators have been receiving. The decision came after two lawmakers sued him for not allowing the raises, which were ordered by an independent commission voters established last year to set legislative pay.
WADENA, Minn.—People from around the country, and beyond, are supporting a Wadena woman fighting the city's effort to remove one of her three basset hounds. As of Friday afternoon, she had obtained nearly 74,000 supporters on a petition to allow her to keep all three dogs. "This is so unreasonable," Marilyn F. from California wrote on the online petition. "They should have hearings and go on a case by case basis, from this point forward."
ST. PAUL—Angst surrounding invasive carp may have eased in parts of Minnesota, but behind-the-scenes work ramps up as the threat remains. The first of the heavy-eating fish, originally known as Asian carp, was caught in Minnesota in 1991. At least one has been caught every year since 2006, with six so far this year. Scientists think they have just been individual fish, not part of a reproducing colony. No young fish have been caught. The fear is that invasive carp will take over areas native fish need, eating their food and forcing them out.
ST. PAUL—Infrastructure is becoming a Washington, D.C. hot topic. And no one is discussing it more than rural America's lawmakers. "A strong rural infrastructure is necessary for our rural areas to remain vital but our rural economy faces unique infrastructure challenges," U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said as the House Agriculture Committee discussed the topic on Wednesday, July 19.
ST. PAUL -- A judge reached all the way to the Federalist Papers of 1787 to conclude Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton violated the state Constitution when he vetoed state House and Senate funding last spring. "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition," James Madison wrote in arguing in favor of the separation of powers doctrine that soon became the basis for the U.S. Constitution and was key in the Wednesday, July 19, Minnesota court decision.