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—Most Minnesota teachers do not get master's degrees in the subjects they teach. That, state Rep. Dean Urdahl says, needs to change so students get better education. If teachers know more about the subjects they teach, students would learn more, he said Tuesday, Feb. 14. The Minnesota House Education Finance Committee Tuesday approved Urdahl's legislation to provide tax credits of $2,500 to teachers who earn master's degrees in their fields. It is expected to become part of an overall tax bill lawmakers consider later this spring.
ST. PAUL—Educating the public about opioid drugs may be the best way to fight their dangers. That is what Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson hopes. On Monday, Feb. 13, she announced that she has adapted a year-old Wisconsin opioid public awareness campaign to counteract the growing addiction problem to opioid pain killers. Swanson said a website (doseofreality.mn.gov) is the centerpiece of the effort, with a brochure and public service announcement for television stations and movie theaters also available.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's prostate cancer can be cured, a Mayo Clinic official said on Thursday, Feb. 2, and he can continue his state chief executive duties. The governor visited the Rochester, Minn., clinic Tuesday and Wednesday to get information about the cancer diagnosis he received last month.
ST. PAUL — A third as many trains haul North Dakota crude oil across Minnesota as two years ago. Falling oil prices forced a drop in oil output in the Bakken region in western North Dakota, which meant a dramatic drop in the number of trains needed to haul the oil to refineries to the east and south. Most North Dakota oil trains go through Minnesota.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota farmers and agriculture-related groups ask for very little money from the state. Gov. Mark Dayton's $46 billion two-year budget proposal would give just short of $1 billion to the Agriculture Department. At the same time, agriculture provides between 20 percent and 30 percent of Minnesota's jobs and wealth and agriculture leaders say their industry could do even better with a bit more help from the state. Pat Lunemann said a priority must be "to make sure we have a level playing field with the states surrounding us."
ST. PAUL — Raising Minnesota's next two-year budget nearly 10 percent is Gov. Mark Dayton's ask. "We must wisely invest and use our resources," his finance commissioner, Myron Frans, told reporters on Tuesday, Jan. 24, in announcing hopes to increase spending for transportation, education, local governments and other budget areas. The Dayton plan would spend almost $46 billion in the two years beginning July 1. That 9.6 percent boost is too much for Republicans, but GOP leaders said they have not had time to dissect the Dayton proposal.
ST. PAUL — No one wants to celebrate a 70th birthday with a new cancer diagnosis and recent history of fainting on statewide television. But that is what Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton faces Thursday, Jan. 26, when that landmark day arrives.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Mark Dayton has a prescription for a new type of health insurance. Ironically, he was just getting into the issue during his Monday night, Jan. 23, State of the State speech when he encountered his own health issue. He collapsed 45 minutes into his speech; he walked out, but with assistance, after a few minutes and was reported doing well at home an hour later.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton collapsed during his State of the State speech Monday night, Jan. 23, getting up and walking away with help a few minutes later. It was not immediately clear what happened to him or what his condition was. When he got up, he waved and walked with assistance to a back room. He reportedly walked out of the Capitol and left in his official vehicle, and he felt well enough that he declined to immediately go to a hospital.
ST. PAUL—Nearly two years into a Minnesota law requiring plant buffers between cropland and water, some farmers remain furious. They say the 2015 buffer law violates the U.S. Constitution provision saying no "private property (can) be taken for public use without just compensation," that buffers take too much land out of crops and lower its value, that discussion about options to planting 50-foot buffers is starting too late and that farmers know what is best for their own land. In other words, arguments made against the law two years ago remain alive.