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—Gov. Mark Dayton might support borrowing more than $2.3 billion for public works projects this year, his last in elective office. He announced a $1.5 billion proposal Tuesday, Jan. 16, but the governor's office also reports that he feels $858 million in local projects "merit state investments," but he did not include them in his proposal. The public works proposal, known as the bonding bill, is looking to be much like other plans Dayton has released since taking office in 2011: He calls for big bonding bills while Republicans want to shrink them.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton wants the state to fund $1.5 billion of public works projects across Minnesota and asks legislators to approve $858 million more for local projects. More than a third of the $1.5 billion would be designated for state-run colleges and universities, mostly making repairs and improvement on existing buildings. The rest would go to improve other state buildings, construct affordable housing, upgrade clean water facilities and construct other projects in all parts of Minnesota.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota would seem to have an outsized influence on the next farm bill. Both of the state's senators are on that body's Agriculture Committee and three of the state's eight congressmen are on the House farm panel, including Rep. Collin Peterson, the top-ranking Democrat and former chairman. All Minnesotans on the committees are Democrats, in a Congress controlled by Republicans. However, agriculture policy, including the farm bill, usually is decided on a bipartisan basis.
ST. PAUL—A replacement crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota could be completed by the end of 2019, even with a delay approved by the state Public Utilities Commission. The PUC on Tuesday, Jan. 9, bumped back the date it wants to receive a report from March 30 until April 23. While some pipeline supporters said that would mean pipeline construction could not start next year, Shannon Gustafson of pipeline owner Enbridge said even with the delay the pipeline could be done by its deadline.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota state Senate President Michelle Fischbach calls herself "acting lieutenant governor," but has not talked publicly about the job she just inherited. The Republican senator issued a statement Wednesday, Jan. 3, giving no indication that she plans to be an active No. 2 to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
WASHINGTON — Tina Smith raised her right hand and swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, replacing Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken after a series of allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct. She took her oath at 11:04 a.m. Central time Wednesday, Jan. 3, becoming the 22nd female senator. That is a record number of women serving at the same time in the 100-member body. Smith was sworn in along with Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat elected in a special election last month.
WASHINGTON — Minnesota's best-known politician has resigned from the U.S. Senate while a well-known political celebrity considers running for the job. Al Franken resigned as senator at noon Tuesday, Jan. 2, as Lt. Gov. Tina Smith prepared to replace him Wednesday.
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.
Drug addicts may be able to partially blame their ancestors. "Genetics has a huge amount to do with who has a problem and who ends up getting addicted," said Dr. Sheila Specker, a University of Minnesota psychiatrist.. While genetics may not push someone into opioids instead of, say, cocaine, they can be a factor in just being hooked. Doctors cannot predict who will be most vulnerable to addiction, Specker said. Some people can take an opioid or other drug and not be affected, while others declare: "This is great, I feel wonderful."
Opioid overdoses kill more Minnesotans than traffic accidents, and opioids are the leading drug killers.