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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WASHINGTON — Tina Smith says she understands greater Minnesota's needs as she takes over for U.S. Sen. Al Franken. "I have traveled every corner of the state," the Minneapolis resident told Forum News Service in a telephone interview Wednesday, Jan. 3, after she took the oath to become senator. That, she said, included learning how important agriculture is to Minnesota. "It is sort of the foundation stone to the economy."
ST. PAUL—The year now ending was unpredictably busy in Minnesota politics, but 2018 will be predictably busy. It could set a busy record. And that is just what we know now; there is no telling what surprises lurk ahead. Be warned: Minnesota's 2018 election will be packed. You know about the two U.S. Senate races (Amy Klobuchar's seat is up and voters will pick someone to replace Al Franken). There also will be a governor's race, with an open office after Mark Dayton said he would not run again, and lots of candidates are lined up for both major parties.
Opioid overdoses kill more Minnesotans than traffic accidents, and opioids are the leading drug killers.
ST. PAUL—Oh, what a year 2017 was in Minnesota politics. It all started innocently enough, with the state Capitol re-opening after years of a $310 million renovation. Politicians of all stripes walked into the building on Jan. 2, agreed that the Capitol was a magnificent building, now better than when it was built in 1905.
ST. PAUL — Mrs. Smith is going to Washington. Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will replace U.S. Sen. Al Franken once he resigns after eight sexual misconduct allegations. Smith plans to run in the 2018 election to fill out the final two years of Franken's term. Franken has not said just when he will step down. Last week, he said he would resign in "the coming weeks."
WASHINGTON — Al Franken was one of the most recognized U.S. senators from the day he took office in 2009, thanks to fame he gained on the "Saturday Night Live" television show, and this year his political capital rose even more with Democrats across the country promoting him as a 2020 presidential candidate. But eight women came forward in the past three weeks alleging that Franken sexually harassed them, collapsing what had become a successful political career.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota leaders may have a bit less to spend next year than expected, but there are too many uncertainties to know for sure. Minnesota Management and Budget officials announced Tuesday, Dec. 5, that the state budget is expected to be $188 million short of predictions, which could grow to a $585 million deficit in 2020-2021 if state leaders do nothing. The current budget deficit is minor compared to some years and compared to the two-year budget that spends more than $40 billion.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Al Franken's political friends want and expect him to resign. The Minnesota Democrat plans a Thursday, Dec. 7, announcement in Washington that many political leaders expect to produce his resignation as accusations of sexual misconduct multiply.
ST. PAUL — The story is that greater Minnesota loses population because there are not enough jobs. However, many greater Minnesota communities actually have plenty of jobs, leaving areas short of housing for workers that businesses and industries need. Some industries have resorted to busing in workers and some have helped finance housing in an effort to attract workers. It is a story most Minnesotans do not know, but one that keeps city and business leaders awake at night. Some experts guess that up to 7,500 new homes are needed, but no one really knows.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—Businesses in communities short of housing commonly donate money to build apartments, or help employees buy homes, but a central Minnesota meatpacker bought an entire apartment building to shelter some of its new employees. Long Prairie Packing, part of the Wisconsin-based American Foods Group, bought an old apartment building in Alexandria three years ago mostly for new workers. "We can bring people to the area, get them settled in their jobs," American Foods' President Steven Van Lannen said.