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 - Callers to Minnesota's new flu hotline reported no answers, busy signals and long waits today as the Health Department said three more people died from H1N1 flu. The deaths were in Martin, Steele and Freeborn counties, all in southern Minnesota. Two were children younger than 7, while the Martin County death was a woman in her early 60s. The three died within the past two weeks, but the department waited for medical confirmation that H1N1, also known as swine flu, was the cause. With today's report, 10 Minnesotans have died of the pandemic flu, with 611 others hospitalized.
ST. PAUL -- Tim Pawlenty wants fellow governors to sign on to his idea to set health-insurance standards and allow people to buy policies across state lines. "Health insurance is an area that would benefit from a consistent set of standards to enable true market competition to flourish nationally," Pawlenty wrote Wednesday to his 49 colleagues.
ST. PAUL -- Operators are standing by to answer calls from feverish, coughing and achy Minnesotans. What Minnesota health officials call the country's first statewide flu help line that can prescribe medicine launched Wednesday at 1-866-259-4655. Minnesota FluLine, open 24 hours every day indefinitely, was established to give Minnesotans who think they have the flu a place to call for advice. Operators working 50 telephone lines will transfer sick Minnesotans to their own insurance companies or doctors' clinic nurse lines or provide a state-funded nurse.
ST. PAUL -- Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and leaders of the Democratic-dominated Minnesota Legislature got a head start on their 2010 work Tuesday, agreeing they would start work on issues such as public works projects and how to inject money into the economy.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota 2010 governor's race is unique. For one thing, the race is gearing up big time now, while it still is just 2009. It depends on how you count, but there are about 20 Republican and Democratic candidates already in the race, and more are bound to belly up to the bar. With half of the candidates serving in the Legislature, next year's session is sure to be affected. Many predict that the candidates, including House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher who more than anyone can affect the tone of the session, will want to get out early and hit the campaign trail.
ST. PAUL -- A Minnesota family could save up to 7 percent of its health insurance costs a year if allowed to buy insurance in other states, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday in proposing that legislators change current law that prohibits such purchases.
ST. PAUL -- Regulators are working with 71 of 426 Minnesota-based banks to make sure they do not fail, but bank and credit union officials say they are not risking customers' money. "It's just a matter of prudent lending and risk management," Noah Wilcox Tuesday told the state Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. Wilcox and other bankers told senators that the media is feeding a frenzy by reporting about "risking loans" being made by American banks.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators face a dilemma: Can they spend money from a tight budget to eliminate poverty by 2020? If they spend money now, Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, said, more people would go to work and the state's economy would improve. But since lawmakers are not likely to start many new spending programs in light of a several-billion budget deficit, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said they can start the process by looking at improvements that cost little.
ST. PAUL -- Marty Seifert took an early lead in the first statewide measure of Minnesota's Republican 2010 governor race. The state representative from Marshall collected 37 percent of the vote in a GOP state convention straw poll, a convincing victory in a nine-candidate field. Finishing second was Rep. Tom Emmer, getting 23 percent in the non-binding poll. In third with 14 percent was former State Auditor Pat Anderson.