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—Election day may be Tuesday, but 568,196 Minnesotans already have voted. That is the word this morning from the secretary of state's office and represents the most early voters ever. This is the first presidential election in which a state no-excuse, early-voting law is in effect. The figure represents the absentee vote count plus mail-in ballots used in some rural predicts.
ST. PAUL — Technology issues are fixed and the state's MNsure health insurance sales program has enrolled 10,000 Minnesotans, a mark not hit for nearly a month last year. "We've helped more Minnesotans than we have in any two-day period in our history," MNsure executive Allison O'Toole told reporters Thursday, Nov. 3.
ST. PAUL—A telephone attack slowed the MNsure health insurance sales telephone system on the first day Minnesotans could buy policies Tuesday, Nov. 1, and about 70 state Websites experienced outages at mid-day. A state information technology official said it did not appear the incidents were linked, but they combined to make life miserable for thousands of Minnesotans trying to heed officials' suggestions to buy health policies early.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota deputy sheriffs are back home after aiding North Dakota law enforcement officials at an oil pipeline protest. While Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said on Facebook that she opposed sending Minnesota officers to North Dakota, where American Indian and other protesters have objected to building a new pipeline for months, Gov. Mark Dayton said he has no problem with it. "I do not object," Dayton said Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, when asked by Forum News Service.
ST. PAUL—The opening of individual health insurance policy sales Tuesday, Nov. 1, was greeted by a robocall effort to block people from reaching the state agency selling policies. Gov. Mark Dayton said the seven-minute wait time for people calling about insurance policies at 9 a.m. slowed to 19 minutes when the automated telephone calls tied up the system. The robocall system was blocked from the MNsure state-run insurance sales agency, the governor added, and call waits quickly dropped.
ST. PAUL—A federal study of relations between Minnesota police and their communities has expanded from Hennepin County to statewide. A Minnesota advisory committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission Monday, Oct. 31, decided the discussion should not be limited to the state's largest county. "I would want to include folks from communities outside of the metro area," said Director Velma Korbel of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, who heads the 15-person advisory committee heavy with Twin Cities members.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans who buy individual health insurance policies would get either state or federal aid to deal with soaring premiums under a plan Gov. Mark Dayton offered Thursday, Oct. 27. Dayton announced a proposal that would reduce premiums 25 percent for 123,000 Minnesotans who do not qualify for federal assistance provided Americans below specific income levels.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's top elected Republican says he will call for Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's resignation if he does not put in enough effort to solve what is widely regarded as a health insurance crisis. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said on Wednesday, Oct. 26, that the Dayton administration has thousands of workers who could work on improving the health insurance situation, in which people buying individual polices could see premiums rise up to 67 percent, coverage fall and deductibles soar to several thousand dollars.
ST. PAUL—Look at history and it would appear Democrats will control the Minnesota Legislature next year. After all, Democrats have won control of the Senate in every presidential election year since 1992. And House Democrats came out on top in four of the six most recent presidential years. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party voters have a tradition of turning out in greater numbers when the presidential race is on the ballot than in other years. When they show up to vote for their presidential candidate, they usually vote for other Democrats on down the ballot.
ST. PAUL — The two major presidential candidates appear to agree on something. Hillary Clinton: "America's rural communities lie at the heart of what makes this country great." Donald Trump: "Growing our farm sector and supporting our nation's farmers are absolutely critical steps to making America great again."