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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Communities outside of the Twin Cities look to capitalize on Super Bowl LII. A couple of Otter Tail County festivals and one in Duluth are timed to coincide with the Super Bowl, but state tourism officials say few other greater Minnesota events are connected directly with the game. However, hotels, motels and airports hope for a jump in business as the Twin Cities may not be able to accommodate all the activity.
MINNEAPOLIS—A side effect of any big event like the Super Bowl is sex trafficking. "We know that there's going to be a million-plus people coming into the Twin Cities," Minneapolis Police Sgt. Grant Snyder recently told a Minneapolis City Council committee. "Unfortunately, some of those people, and it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl, are going to engage in the purchase, or attempt to purchase, commercial sex."
MINNEAPOLIS—The Minnesota Vikings will not play in Super Bowl LII, but team officials say that merely hosting one in their home stadium will result in an off-field victory. "We will see the Vikings brand ... more prevalent than in any other host city," Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said, so Super Bowl television viewers will know that U.S. Bank Stadium is home to the Vikings.
MINNEAPOLIS—Jerry Williams and 10,000 other volunteers are ready to put Minnesota's best foot forward. The volunteers from around Minnesota will greet and help Super Bowl visitors for the 10 days leading up to the main event on Sunday, Feb. 4, with smiles on their faces and plenty of information to share. Williams, who retired as Rochester, Minn., school superintendent more than a decade ago, said that when he is at his downtown Minneapolis station he will jump into action "when I see people with that glazed-over look like, 'Where am I?'"
ST. PAUL—Liberal immigration supporters are furious at Democratic U.S. senators, including Minnesota's two, for favoring a short-term federal budget deal that does not maintain a program they favor. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith on Monday, Jan. 22, joined 79 other senators of both parties to end a federal government shutdown that began Saturday. On an 81-18 vote, senators voted to extend the the federal government budget through Feb. 8.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton launched what he hopes is a bonding miracle pass as his time in office runs out. But unlike when Stefon Diggs caught the Vikings' game winner, there is little doubt defenders in this contest will not duck. It is a pretty sure bet Republicans will reach in and knock the $1.5 billion pass away. And they no doubt will prevent a handoff of $858 million from the state to local communities.
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.