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 and four other states reached a $500,000 settlement with a company they say was "making abusive and harassing phone calls to increase student loan payments." Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced Friday, Aug. 11, that iQor Holdings agreed to the settlement.
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — Many, if not most, farmers say they like what they have seen so far in how President Donald Trump deals with agriculture. Most specifically, they like him naming Sonny Perdue agriculture secretary, although some are concerned he was the last Cabinet nomination and Perdue's department still lacks many top officials. But there is a question in many minds, when it comes to Trump and Perdue. Farmer Lester Braulick of New Ulm, Minn., put it simply during the recent Farmfest: "Is he (Trump) going to let him do his job?"
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn.—Crop insurance. Organic agriculture. Young farmers. Conservation. Sugar help. Vaccine. Feeding the poor. International trade. The list started there and went on and on as 11 U.S. representatives sat through 2½ hours of ideas from Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa farmers and agribusiness people about how they should write new federal farm legislation. The only common theme the 11 heard was that they want the federal government to help agriculture.
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.
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 — A federal judge says he will decide whether to temporarily stop the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project within 30 days. After a three-hour hearing Tuesday, July 18, Chief Minnesota federal Judge John R. Tunheim announced his month deadline in a request to hit pause on the $2.2 billion project. Attorneys seeking the delay, representing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and areas south of Fargo-Moorhead, said the delay is needed because Minnesota has rejected a permit to build a dam that is part of the project.
ST. PAUL—Average Minnesotans should be involved in training police officers to deal with tense racial situations, Gov. Mark Dayton says as $12 million heads to police departments across the state. "It is only by them coming together and working together and recognizing the common cause we all have" that the new training program will be successful, Dayton said Thursday, July 6, the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer. "We all need to learn to live together."
ST. PAUL -- President Donald Trump plans to nominate a Minnesota Supreme Court justice to a St. Louis-based federal appeals court. Numerous Washington journalists report that David Stras is due to get the Trump nod Monday, May 8, for the Eighth Circuit Court , which hears cases for Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Arkansas.
ST. PAUL—The battleground for new federal health insurance legislation may be in the same place as last year's presidential election was decided: rural America. Democrats are telling rural Donald Trump voters that they do better under current law championed by then-President Barack Obama. An example comes from the Democrat-leaning National Farmers Union and its president, a former North Dakota agriculture commissioner.
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.