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.
- Member for
- 5 years 3 months
ST. PAUL — A long-standing method of protecting wild rice from toxic water, which has not been enforced, may be on its way out for a new method. A Minnesota House committee Thursday, March 8, voted to dump a 1973 rule that limited sulfate in water to 10 milligrams per liter. Instead, bill author Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, said, wild rice would be protected from a variety of threats, not just sulfate. Also, his bill would establish a working group to deliver suggestions to legislators early next year about how state law should be changed to protect wild rice.
ST. PAUL—Jessica Goodwin was holding her 1-year-old in a Lifetime Fitness Center last November with her four other children next to her and husband not far away when a "man walked up behind me and fully groped my buttocks." The Columbia Heights, Minn., woman talked to managers at the fitness center and police, only to learn the man's action was perfectly legal. She also learned that four other women said he groped them the same day, she said in written testimony given to Minnesota state senators.
ST. PAUL — A state office that exists to protect vulnerable Minnesotans, such as those in nursing homes, is dysfunctional and fails to safeguard people in its charge, a watchdog agency reports. The Office of Legislative Auditor issued one of its most critical reports ever on Tuesday, March 6. Legislative Auditor James Nobles called it "a serious problem in state government." Nobles and Deputy Legislative Auditor Judy Randall told of poor Health Department management, lost case files, lengthy delays and failure to communicate with vulnerable people.
ST. PAUL—Some lawmakers fear state agencies will drain funds away from a lawsuit settlement with iconic Minnesota business 3M, which is accused of dumping dangerous chemicals in the southeastern Twin Cities. The state sued 3M for $5 billion, and last month settled on an $850 million payment to the state Department of Natural Resource and Pollution Control Agency. "My No. 1 concern is that the dollars being put into this fund are dollars that actually get out to projects on the ground in this area," Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, said.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota state government's aging computer systems' problems could be a common issue unless the information technology agency steps up its game. Legislators frequently bring up that prospect as they discuss the problem-filled Minnesota License and Registration System. Lawmakers from both parties say MNLARS is a disaster, with Republicans often also mentioning the ill-fated rollout of MNsure a few years back.
ST. PAUL—Fixing the problem-plagued Minnesota vehicle and license computer system may be stalled. Contractors trying to fix the state software are receiving notices that the state is out of money to pay them. Minnesota Information Technology Services mailed letters Thursday night, March 1, to 21 people working as independent contractors. The state agency says workers will begin to leave right away, which will stop work to repair the ill-fated computer system that has angered Minnesotans since summer.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota officials say they are catching up on a backlog of cases alleging elderly people have been abused. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm on Thursday, March 1, said all 2,321 cases that had piled up in the Office of Health Facilities Complaints have been reviewed. Of those, officials decided further investigations are needed for 89 cases. Those probes will be added to 430 investigations already underway. In December, 826 investigations were being conducted.
ST. PAUL — Most greater Minnesota residents have one or two choices for health insurers, which Gov. Mark Dayton said shows a need to expand a state health insurance program to everyone. The state-subsidized MinnesotaCare insurance program especially could help farmers, who often struggle with finding and affording health care coverage, Dayton said.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's state budget has flipped from being in deficit to surplus, but the added money is less than legislative leaders expected. Minnesota Management and Budget, the state finance agency, projects a $329 million surplus for the current $46 billion budget, which ends July 1, 2019. However, Minnesota legislative leaders told a Forum News Service forum two weeks ago that they expected a surplus of $600 million to $1 billion.
ST. PAUL — The Dayton administration says it needs $10 million. Fast. Otherwise, by week's end the state will begin laying off computer programmers and cancel business contracts. And Minnesota's trouble-plagued computer system for issuing motor vehicle license plates, stickers, registrations and titles will continue its slow and inaccurate work.