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Jennifer Brooks

Columnist | Local
phone: 612-673-4008
As a Star Tribune reporter, Jennifer Brooks covered the Capitol and the Minnesota congressional delegation in Washington, and she has traveled across Minnesota writing thoughtful, surprising stories about the people and issues of the state.
Recent content from Jennifer Brooks
Nurse practitioner Emily Kratochwill examines a patient in Minneapolis last year.

Brooks: Funding for family planning under fire

Nothing about public health or family planning seems to be bipartisan these days.
Lillianna Peltier cheered up her brother Kayden during a hospital visit nearly a month after he was seriously injured by an SUV that led police on a h

Brooks: Family shattered by high-speed police chase onto playground tries to rebuild

The Peltiers' new normal is surgery and therapy and medical bills on top of medical bills.
An industrial hemp field is in bloom in August 2016 at the John Strohfus farm in Dakota County.

Brooks: Minnesota pilot program has the industrial hemp as high as an elephant's eye

More and more farmers are working the cannabis strain into rotation beside their soybeans and sugar beets.
A young scholar places a sign in his yard of a north Minneapolis home. Five hundred "Future College Grads Live Here" signs went up in the neighborhood

Brooks: Students march for future of promise; 'I want them to know the North Side is not bad'

They planned this march through north Minneapolis long before Thurman Junior Blevins. Hundreds of children, parents and teachers will make a 3.5-mile trek through the…
“I hate to bring this up, but we came this close to winning the state of Minnesota,” President Trump said to thousands of cheering supporters at a

At Trump rally in Duluth: Red, white and boos

Everyone who wasn't a reporter penned in the center of the arena directly under speakers blasting "Tiny Dancer" at full volume did look like they were having fun.
FILE - In this June 2, 2016, file photo, a woman holds hats to get them autographed by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally i

Brooks: Wear your politics on your sleeve this August

Minnesota had good intentions and bad execution when it set out to turn polling places into tranquil, slogan-free oases.
Have Ya Herd goat yoga drew participants to Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis.

Brooks: When goats and yoga become one to save the dairy farm

These days, the Have Ya Herd herd not only pays its own way, it helps keep the Lubich family farm afloat
Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, spoke Tuesday after filing to run for Minnesota attorney general.

Brooks: Break out the popcorn, it's primary season

Days after the party endorsing conventions, we are neck-deep in would-be governors, lieutenant governors, attorneys general and congresspeople.
A scene from the video, "Everyone's Watching," a reminder about social media use at school.

Brooks: Students remind us: T.H.I.N.K. before you post online

This has been a week of teachable moments on social media.
The death of 7-year-old Keyaris Samuels, who accidentally shot himself with a loaded handgun discovered in the home, was what drew the only protester

Brooks: That one thing you like? Not happening at Minnesota Legislature

This end-of-session horse trading and arm twisting comes at a price.
One of the lures made by Jennifer Brooks: a tiny Admiral Ackbar to give the fish fair warning.

New columnist Jennifer Brooks: It all starts with the fishing opener

After a move from D.C. back to Minnesota, the water provides a perfect place to decompress.
Rep. Tom Emmer, left to right, U.S. Senator Tina Smith, and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, enjoyed a light moment during a ceremony to present the Congre

Tina Smith settles into Senate, but big political challenge looms

Minnesota's newest U.S. senator settles in, raises $2M for campaign.

In suburban Twin Cities U.S. House districts, four DFLers angle to challenge two GOP incumbents

This weekend's district conventions in the Second and Third districts will determine which challengers go up against Reps. Paulsen and Lewis this fall.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson

Minnesota joins lawsuit against new census citizenship question

Minnesota is suing the federal government over a single question on the 2020 census — a question it argues could skew its population count and cost it everything from a seat in Congress to its share of federal funding.
MyPillow founder Mike Lindell

MyPillow's Mike Lindell checks in with Trump at Mar-a-Lago

Minnesota businessman spends weekend at Mar-a-Lago talking politics.
On his town hall phone calls, Rep. Erik Paulsen is chatty, at ease and eager to talk, reeling off a laundry list of his plans, policies and positions.

Paulsen uses 'telephone town halls' to hear from constituents

Neither Rep. Erik Paulsen nor neighboring Rep. Jason Lewis have attended a town hall gathering in more than a year — or in Paulsen's case, years.
Chris Jennings of Minneapolis North High school joined other students from Minnesota that attended the March For Our Lives rally Saturday in Washingto

Minnesotans add passion, voices to D.C. march on gun control

Students from many backgrounds joined together as 800,000 rallied for stricter gun control as part of the March for Our Lives event.
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2006 photo released by Michigan Technological University, a gray wolf is shown on Isle Royale National Park in northern Michig

Plan to drop Great Lakes wolves from endangered species list cut from budget bill

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson's proposal to drop Great Lakes gray wolves from the endangered species list was dropped from the massive spending bill at the last minute — to the delight of Minnesota environmentalists and the dismay of state farmers who say wolf populations are healthy enough now to menace their livestock.
Sen. Tina Smith on the day she was sworn in as new U.S. senator from Minnesota at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 3, 2018.

Sen. Tina [bleeping] Smith makes her 'View' debut

Minnesota's newest senator talked Al Franken, Stormy Daniels and blue waves on the ABC show -- and ran afoul of the network censors.
Gov. Mark Dayton State financial officials discussed the annual end-of-year budget forecast Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 at the State Capitol building in St.

Gov. Mark Dayton 'open to anything' to deter school shootings

He said he wants to hear from educators, Cabinet for ideas on ending school violence.
The U.S. Capitol

How Minnesota's competitive U.S. House seats could tip power balance in midterms

Come November, Minnesota could find itself swept up in a midterm Democratic wave, or it could be the bulwark where the GOP picks up seats. Many millions in political spending are expected to wash through the state in a year that also features an open governor's race, two U.S. Senate campaigns and dozens of other down-ticket races.
FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2012 file photo, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Pawlenty is ey

Pawlenty, mulling return to Minnesota politics, leaves D.C. lobbying job

The former governor and his allies have been reaching out to donors, trying to gauge support for a possible run for a third term in his old job.
Sen. Tina Smith in a Jan. 5, 2018 appearance in Stacy, Minn. (Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Sen. Tina Smith clarifies abortion bill claim after challenge

Senator clarifies ban's stance on sexual assault but calls the language "wholly inadequate."

Minnesota GOP's Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis defend release of Nunes memo

Minnesota Republicans in Congress cite transparency in release of controversial intelligence memo; Paulsen more guarded in response.
Emergency personnel work at the scene of a train crash involving a garbage truck in Crozet, Va., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. An Amtrak passenger trai

Minn. Rep. Jason Lewis suffers a concussion in train crash

Rep. Jason Lewis rejoined his colleagues at policy retreat in West Virginia despite the injury.
President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress Tuesday,

State of the Union leaves Minnesota lawmakers divided

Republicans applauded, Democrats exchanged incredulous looks.
David R. Stras; Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice.

U.S. Senate confirms Minnesota Justice David Stras to federal bench

Minnesota justice's nomination was delayed by objections by former Sen. Franken.
Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar.

State delegation brings friends, family and symbolic guests to speech

Minnesota's delegation packs the galleries ahead of Trump's State of the Union address.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum

Minnesota U.S. Rep. McCollum calls for Trump's impeachment

She's the ninth cosponsor, and first Minnesotan, to sign on to resolution.
The South Kawishiwi River, which flows into the Boundary Waters, is threatened by copper-nickel mining proposals by Twin Metals Minnesota and others o

Trump officials cut back review of Boundary Waters mining ban

Infuriated, Gov. Mark Dayton calls it a "terrible" decision, but mining advocates cheer.
Senator Amy Klobuchar gave a warm introdiction to fellow Minnesota Senator Tina Smith at Smith's reception on Jan. 3.

Klobuchar, Smith vote to end federal government shutdown

Following a weekend of tense negotiations, Minnesota's Democratic senators voted to end a short-lived government shutdown.
Elisa McCann, 2, played with her mother, Gabriella, in their St. Paul home in October 2015.

4-year-old leaves legacy of pushing frontiers of medicine, Minn. law

Born with a tragic condition, she found joy amid pain before her Jan. 12 death.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) speaks after the House voted to approve a continuing resolution that would fund the government, on Capitol Hill in Wa

For Minnesota, a shutdown could have major implications

Smith, other lawmakers from state express frustration.
FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2012, file photo, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Pawlenty said

Tim Pawlenty nixes Minnesota Senate run this year

Minnesota is going to be a 'tough state' for Republicans to win, he says in Fox Business News interview.
This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. Indian tribes in Minnesota, Wiscons

Upper Midwest tribes file suit over opioid crisis

Three tribes from the Dakotas joined the legal blitz against drugmakers.
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras answers questions during a Senate hearing Wednesday over his nomination to the federal bench.

David Stras gets long-delayed Senate hearing for federal judgeship

Stras declines to spell out views on issues but says he'd be "impartial voice" on federal courts.

Maybe next year for kids' health care

Congress just pushed health care fund­ing for some of the young­est and poor­est Min­ne­so­tans to next year’s to-do list. Lawmakers dashed out of town for…
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz is one of three Minnesota House members who have signed on to the so-called Special Counsel Independence Protection Act, which call

As criticism of Robert Mueller mounts on right, congressional Democrats warn against firing

They're banding together to stave off possible firing.
Ahead of Jan. 2 departure, Franken gives final farewell on Senate floor

Ahead of Jan. 2 departure, Franken gives final farewell on Senate floor

Invoking Paul Wellstone, he said politics is about improving people's lives.
Sen. Al Franken

Franken sets date for resignation from the Senate: Jan. 2

Senator-designate Tina Smith, appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton, will be sworn in the next day.
Tina Smith

Tough work ahead for Tina Smith – on the Hill and at home

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith’s political connections and savvy quickly united Minnesota’s ideologically and geographically diverse DFL Party behind her as Al Franken’s replacement in the…
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., center, held hands with his wife, Franni Bryson, as he left the Capitol after announcing that he will resign in the coming w

As Al Franken begins Senate exit, debate builds over his successor

Now that Sen. Al Franken has announced he will resign in the coming weeks, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is facing a high-pressure decision over appointing a replacement.
Politico reported that a former Democratic aide says Sen. Al Franken tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006.

Sen. Al Franken will announce plans on Senate floor at 10:45 a.m.

The Minnesota senator, who called the latest anonymous accusation "preposterous," is set to speak about his future. It comes after Democratic leaders united Wednesday to tell him it was time to go.

Mining bill shakes up old alliances

One bill, touching on two issues close to Minnesota's heart — the mining economy and the wild beauty of the North Woods — divided the state's congressional delegation this week.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) arrived on Wednesday before a confirmation hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for Alex Az

Senate Ethics Committee has opened inquiry into Al Franken

Also, a new accuser, an Army veteran, told CNN that a 2003 encounter came while posing for a photo with Franken, who was on a USO tour.
FILE - In a Nov. 15, 2017 file photo, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., speaks during the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Wa

Nov. 27: Back at work, Sen. Al Franken repeats public apology

The Minnesota Democrat continues his apology tour, then turns to legislation.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., talks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.

Sen. Franken says he can still be effective as crucial bills await

Ending an 8-day silence, the senator says he's ashamed by the accusations of groping, but ready to get back to work today.
FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2017 file photo, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Colorado Supreme Court Jus

Franken vows to regain trust of Minnesota after harassment allegations

"Let me say again that I'm sorry," the senator wrote in a statement. He apologized for embraces that "crossed a line."
U.S. Sen. Al Franken held a roundtable discussion while touring Green Central Park Elementary School in October.

Hit by scandal, Franken faces questions about ability to do job

A once-bright political career now hangs in the balance.
In this image provided by the U.S. Army, then-comedian Al Franken and sports commentator Leeann Tweeden perform a comic skit for service members durin

Franken apologizes to accuser; President Trump weighs in

Leeann Tweeden said Franken kissed and groped her without her consent during a USO tour in 2006. Sen. Klobuchar has called for an ethics investigation of Franken.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum

Rep. McCollum says she once fended off lawmaker with rolled-up newspaper

'What are you doing?' the Minnesota Democrat fended off unwelcome attention from a fellow member of Congress by swatting him with newspaper.
"Everywhere I go, there are 50, 100, 200 more people than I even knew existed in the last election cycle," said Angie Craig, a Democrat who lost one o

Energized DFL hopes Trump backlash sticks around for 2018

Suburban swing districts south and west of the Twin Cities are drawing some of the most intense national interest, and generating some of the most excitement among Democrats hoping to flip two prize Republican seats next year.

Clock ticking on CHIP funding

Reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program used to be a fairly painless, bipartisan process. But few things are painless or bipartisan in Washington these days.…
Former Minnesota Congressman Vin Weber, shown in 2004.

Vin Weber's deep D.C. ties entangle him in Russia probe, grand jury

News that the former Minnesota congressman had been caught up in Robert Mueller's probe has been hard to reconcile for friends.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, left, with his daughter Katherine.

U.S. Rep. Nolan steps up his urgent crusade to wipe out lung cancer

His youngest daughter, Katherine Nolan-Bensen, received a diagnosis of advanced stage 4 lung cancer almost three years ago.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington on Oct.

Franken to Sessions: American public cannot trust your word

Minnesota Democrat calls on the attorney general to give full accounting of the Trump campaign's contact with Russia.
Nurse practitioner Emily Kratochwill talked with a patient during an exam at the Planned Parenthood clinic on Lagoon Avenue in Minneapolis last week.

'We're not going anywhere': Planned Parenthood clinics brace for fight

As opponents call for cuts, Planned Parenthood says its services are essential.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., center, leaves a Senate policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, after he and Sen. Patty

Senate health deal could spare MinnesotaCare millions in cuts

Senators say Minnesota effort to lower insurance rates shouldn't cost state millions in federal health-care funding.
In this 2015 photo, a group of women held hands during a healing session at the Minnesota Indian Women's Center in Minneapolis.

Weinstein's bad money put to good use by Minn. charity

For Sen. Al Franken, donations from the recently disgraced Hollywood producer were a political liability. For the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center, where Franken's campaign redirected the money, that means hot food and warm socks for women in need in Minneapolis.
Rep. Tom Emmer at a town hall in Sartell.

GOP Reps. Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis vote against disaster aid

As California burned and Puerto Rico struggled to get the lights turned back on, the House approved another $36.5 billion in disaster aid. Those funds…
Leah Phifer is running for the DFL endorsement in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Democrat Rick Nolan.

Ex-FBI analyst challenges Nolan for DFL nod as Eighth District race heats up

DFLer Leah Phifer touts her experience as a counterterrorism expert.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn, at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As GOP eyes stronger judicial push, Franken fights to retain veto of home-state nominees

Clash heats up over power to veto court appointees.
Members of the House and Senate have argued over how to offset the cost of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has bogged down renewing t

Congress misses health care deadline; Minnesota feels pinch

An emergency infusion of federal funding will keep children's health insurance programs going for another month.
Republican state Sen. Carla Nelson of Rochester mingled with supporters after announcing her run for Congress.

Carla Nelson of Rochester joins race to replace Walz in Congress

State Senate Republican holds subdued event in wake of Vegas shooting.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar had 90 minutes on the national stage Monday to make her best case for protecting the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Klobuchar steers health care debate to middle ground

Minnesota senator shared the stage with Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, who sponsored the latest, likely unsuccessful, GOP attempt to dismantle the ACA.
Dr. Michael Kamp examines a patient Thursday at Open Cities Medical Center. The low-income clinic in St. Paul would face major funding losses under th

Latest health bill in Senate could end up costing Minn. billions

The Graham-Cassidy bill could defund MinnesotaCare and shift funding from Minnesota to states like Wisconsin. "This takes us back several steps." a Minnesota health official says.
With the reinsurance program, Minnesota would be using public money to help offset the cost of the plans sold through MNsure, the state’s insurance

Dayton: 'Nightmarish' fed insurance process could cost state millions

The millions of dollars that Minnesota wants to spend to limit rate hikes in the individual health insurance market could cost the state millions more in federal funding for low-income health care.
Sen. Al Franken, with Delaware Sen. Thomas Carper, headed to a luncheon with fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Sen. Franken comes out for single-payer health-care plan

The Minnesota Democrat announced Tuesday that he has signed on as a cosponsor of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' single-payer health care plan, calling health care "a right for all Americans."
David Soto, 31, a Twin Cities financial adviser, at microphone, flanked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, left, and Archbishop Bernard Hebda, right, described hi

DACA's demise intensifies battle on immigration in Minn.

Within hours of last week's announcement that the Trump administration is ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a diverse cast of Minnesotans with a stake in the program sprang to action.


thin space fixed.


Original version.
Associate Justice David Stras of the Minnesota Supreme Court speaks during a 2015 hearing in St. Paul.

Franken won't back Trump pick of Minn. justice for 8th Circuit

The Democratic senator said Tuesday he will not return a blue slip that would allow the nomination of David Stras to advance to a vote, concerned that the justice is too conservative.
Miguel Garcia at Twin Eagle Dairy in Clarissa, Minn. Owner Pat Lunemann says immigration reform would help farmers like him find more workers to help

Stretched for workers, Minn. businesses lament immigration pushback

Labor projections suggest the state needs to increase, not cut, legal immigration.
Rep. Tom Emmer, shown at a town hall meeting earlier this year, called the work faced by Congress ahead of a Sept. 30 “a mad sprint.” The Minnesot

Congress braces for September crunch

Congress returns this week from a monthlong recess to a legislative calendar counting down to Sept. 30, the deadline to fund the government or at least pass a stopgap to keep it running a few months longer.
When federal lawmakers return to work in September, they will have until the end of the month to hammer out the entire 2018 federal budget and avoid a

Deadline looms for Congress to reauthorize insurance program for low-income kids

Federal lawmakers have until the end of September to renew funds for the CHIP program.
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