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 leaders are bracing for a fiscal fallout as federal policymakers debate health-care reform proposals costing $1 trillion. Most state governments, including Minnesota, faced huge deficits as they wrote new budgets this year. If major new federal health-care programs are implemented, it appears the states will be responsible for paying for a wide range of items, such as unemployment insurance for workers laid off due to higher employer health costs and running new health programs.
ST. PAUL -- Don't plan to attend a health-care reform meeting with U.S. Reps. Tim Walz and John Kline standing side by side. Kline's office questions the real reason for the Walz invitation for a joint public meeting. "That we received his invitation on the same day it was released to the press leads me to question if there was ever a good faith intent on Mr. Walz's behalf," Kline spokesman Troy Young said. "Frankly, it sounds like a publicity stunt." But Walz Press Secretary Sara Severs said the southern Minnesota congressman truly wanted the joint meetings.
ST. PAUL -- One headline said Gov. Tim Pawlenty "declined" an invitation to meet with current and former governors and legislative leaders. Another said he "rejected" the idea. It was more like he tore up the invitation into little bits and threw it away. Then burned it. And buried the ashes. Figuratively, at least. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, both Minneapolis Democrats, invited Pawlenty and all former governors, majority leaders and speakers to a summit to discuss economic woes the state faces.
BROOKLYN PARK -- Minnesota schools should learn from the suicide of a St. Louis teenager and more than a dozen others that cyberbullying is serious business, according to an expert on the subject. School leaders need to act now to prevent cyberbullying, Parry Aftab told those at the Minnesota School Board Association's annual meeting Friday.
ST. PAUL -- With light music and a soothing voice in the background, a content couple leaps into the air and another happy couple sits in a meadow amid wildflowers. To any television viewer, it appears to be a commercial for the latest wonder drug, available only by prescription. But upon closer examination, this "Reforma" being promoted is President Barack Obama's health care reform plan, and the script is a biting criticism of it. "Consult your congressman or senator now," the male announcer intones. "'Reforma.' Side effects include bureaucratic waste and delay.
ST. PAUL -- Members of Jack Thronson's union are struggling, and not just because many have lost jobs. Thronson told a Minnesota House committee on Monday that they face trying times just dealing with agencies that are supposed to help them get unemployment insurance payments and other state help. "People are getting frustrated going through the answering machine," he said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Republicans stopped a straw poll for governor half-way through the annual Farmfest event. "A straw poll was started but stopped because the state chair had not authorized it," state Republican spokesman Mark Drake said. "We didn't want to take attention away from our sanctioned state convention poll in October." Governor candidate state Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall, who grew up near the Farmfest grounds, said he was told the poll was halted "apparently because it favored me. ...
MINNEAPOLIS -- Dave St. Peter walked the Metrodome concourse, the only man in a suit and tie among 32,000 heading to their seats, buying Dome dogs, picking through T-shirts and doing whatever else baseball fans do just before the Minnesota Twins take the field. He took a right turn and walked into the stands, heading down the steps to see how pre-game activities were going. Within seconds, he spotted a former classmate from St. Mary's High School in Bismarck, N.D. Karen Nathe, her family at her side, enjoyed catching up with her classmate, who has been the Twins' president since 2002.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tour the new Minnesota Twins ballpark and it appears almost ready to host its first game. Just add some turf and a few more seats and Target Field will offer Upper Midwest residents baseball the way it was meant to be played: outdoors.