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—Many Minnesota businesses could benefit and taxpayers could see a $150 million windfall after a U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring most websites to collect sales taxes from online shoppers. "It is about main street fairness," Minnesota House Tax Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, said after the high court released its ruling Thursday, June 21. What puzzled Davids was why the high court voted 5-4 instead of 9-0. "It should be such an easy thing."
ST. PAUL—People who misrepresent dogs or other animals as trained service animals soon may violate state law. Minnesota senators Thursday, April 19, unanimously approved legislation making such misrepresentation a crime. Some well-publicized instances of people wrongly claiming animals like parrots and kangaroos were service animals brought public attention to the issue.
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.
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.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Al Franken's office says he will make an announcement on Thursday, Dec. 7, a day after women colleagues called for him to resign. While speculation was that the Minnesota Democrat would resign as allegations of sexual misconduct piled up, his office gave no indication about what his announcement would be or where it would come. Franken apparently has not been in Minnesota since allegations began a week before Thanksgiving. Several women say he inappropriately touched them during USO tours, at the Minnesota State Fair and in a radio studio.
ST. PAUL -- A former Minnesota woman says U.S. Sen. Al Franken grabbed her buttocks while her husband was taking their photo at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. Lindsay Menz, who now lives in Texas, said on Twitter: "In August 2010, @alfranken grabbed me while taking a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair. I felt violated & embarrassed." Tweeting to radio host Leeann Tweeden, she added: "I 100% believe your account of him & his actions, ... Thank you for sharing your story."
WASHINGTON -- Republican-written federal health care legislation that appeared lacking enough votes to pass is proof a bipartisan effort is needed to fix the issue, U.S.Sen. Amy Klobuchar told a national audience. "Put politics aside and put the people first," the Minnesota Democrat said during a 90-minute CNN health care legislation debate with three Senate colleagues Monday night, Sept. 25. Klobuchar used her national pulpit to urge bipartisan work to fix the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Ann Daley needs to know the "full skinny" about what is happening in her community. So she turns to her local newspaper for everything from city council decisions to where there is a taco feed. "It is local events that I like to know about," the 86-year-old woman said about what she has found in the Bemidji Pioneer since she and her husband moved the community in 1976.