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 livestock regulators are not doing all they could to protect deer and elk from disease, a state audit shows. "We found that the Board of Animal Health has failed to enforce some laws relating to deer and elk farms," the Office of the Legislative Auditor wrote in a letter to legislators. "The board has not established clear expectations for deer and elk farm inventories, nor has it systematically analyzed compliance with state laws requiring chronic wasting disease testing."
ST. PAUL — Tim Pawlenty could change almost everything in 2018 Minnesota politics. Or voters may consider him a politician of the past and his candidacy for governor will only make a ripple. His campaign created more than a ripple when it announced he had raised $1 million after just three weeks as a candidate. Pawlenty's campaign distributed a news release that proclaimed: "In less than a month, Pawlenty raised more than twice the amount all other remaining GOP candidates combined raised in all of 2017."
ST. PAUL—People who misrepresent dogs or other animals as trained service animals soon may violate state law. Minnesota senators Thursday, April 19, unanimously approved legislation making such misrepresentation a crime. Some well-publicized instances of people wrongly claiming animals like parrots and kangaroos were service animals brought public attention to the issue.
WASHINGTON — The 2018 federal farm bill passed its first major hurdle with a decidedly partisan split over issues not directly agriculture connected. The U.S. House agriculture committee is known historically as a bipartisan panel, but on Wednesday, April 18, the divide was deep between Republicans who control Congress and Democrats who claim they had no say in drawing up the bill. The panel passed the farm bill along party lines 26-20, divided over food stamps and lack of open discussion leading up to the vote.
ST. PAUL — A former Minnesota Republican chairman and lawmaker has ended his campaign for governor, saying Tim Pawlenty's entrance in the race means he cannot win. "The opportunity for me to win in November has closed," Keith Downey wrote to supporters Wednesday, April 18. Downey said the endorsement race is "wide open" and his campaign is sound but he is "unable to see a path to victory now."
ST. PAUL — Time is running out on the Minnesota legislative session, and one of the issues hanging over lawmakers remains unresolved. Even as House and Senate Republicans released overall transportation bills Tuesday, April 17, many questions remained on how they will handle the troublesome vehicle license, title and registration system known as MNLARS.
ST. PAUL — A former Minnesota House speaker will become Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's fifth justice on the seven-member state Supreme Court. Dayton announced Tuesday, April 17, that Rep. Paul Thissen will become justice. He has been in the state House 16 years and a lawyer 25 years. Dayton and Thissen said the Minneapolis man's time in the Legislature means he has traveled the state, talking to thousands of people, which will help him as justice.
ST. PAUL — Legislative Republicans are fighting a Dayton administration proposal to restrict farmers' use of nitrate fertilizers. The GOP-controlled Minnesota House voted 69-56 Monday, April 16, to require legislative approval before nitrate limits proposal by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton can be adopted. Dayton he wants the rule because "clean and safe drinking water is the right of every Minnesotan."
ST. PAUL—Kris Sundberg's story is tough to hear. Her father was in an assisted living center. Newspapers piled up outside his door and he did not go to the dining room for a week. Finally, a neighbor urged staff to check on him. Once they did, they found he was dead, apparently for seven days. It was so bad, Sundberg said, that a hazardous materials team had to clean the room before the family could remove belongings. Minnesota does not regulate assisted living facilities such as where her father lived.
ST. PAUL — John Jaschke learned a valuable lesson the other day: Don't rush so fast that you skip over important details. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, known as BWSR, executive director told Forum News Service that mistakes happen when you hurry. Not only do mistakes happen, he learned, but in some instances state leaders may condemn you in the harshest of terms.