Staff Directory 280701532

Jessie Van Berkel

Reporter | Politics and Government
Location: St. Paul Capitol bureau
Other languages: None

Jessie Van Berkel writes about Minnesota government and politics at the Star Tribune. She previously covered St. Paul City Hall and local government in the south metro. 


Before joining the Star Tribune, Van Berkel reported on city and county government in Sarasota, Fla., and public safety and courts in Appleton, Wis. She is a Minnesota native who returned to her home state to work for the Star Tribune in 2014. She's a University of Minnesota graduate and a proud Minnesota Daily alumna. Outside of work, she is usually hiking, biking, camping or planning her next travel adventure. Her home is frequently littered with travel books.
Recent content from Jessie Van Berkel
Flooding on the Red River in 2009.

As spring floods loom, Gov. Walz proposes $30 million for disaster aid

State officials are calling for fast action ahead of possible spring flooding.
Minnesota House Democrats have offered a $500 million plan for early childhood aid that includes grants and loans for child care providers and child c

Minnesota lawmakers propose ways to ease child-care crunch

DFL lawmakers offer $500 million plan for grants, loans and child care assistance.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. speaks during the rally outside of the U.S. Capitol, during a house vote to measure limiting President Donald Trump's ability

Rep. Ilhan Omar proposes U.S. foreign policy shift

Her plan addresses human rights, migration and youth aid.
Moms Demand Action chanted "welcome back, welcome back" for returning legislators but were told they cant be loud outside the Senate chambers.

Minnesota Legislature opens 2020 election year session

Victories at the Capitol might take a back seat to election-year organizing.
The Minnesota House Chamber Tuesday morning. A special session still looms to finish much of the work that was not completed before the session came t

What's front and center when 2020 Legislature kicks off?

In an election year, partisan differences will lead to disparate priorities on issues like spending, guns, and drug prices.

Minnesota House Democrats present top goals of 2020 session

House Democrats want to spend more on pre-K education and child care.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., hugs a woman after speaking at a campaign event, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Portsmouth,

Amy Klobuchar now looks ahead after likely fifth-place Iowa finish

The delayed results showed Klobuchar within striking distance of Joe Biden, a national poll leader who showed worrying signs of weakness.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., arrives on Capitol Hill, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 in Washington.

Iowa caucus day arrives with Klobuchar back in D.C.

Supporters and surrogates are making their last pitches to voters who will head to the Iowa caucuses at 7 p.m., with door knocking and call bank events scheduled throughout the day.
Caucus forms are visible on a table as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden visits an American Legion Post, Thursday, Jan

What happens at an Iowa caucus?

The rules have changed — and that could matter.
Transit officers Noah LaBathe, left, and LaFayette Temple checked for valid passes or receipts from riders at the East Bank Station in Minneapolis in

Legislators, Met Council look to decriminalize light rail fare evasion

Someone caught riding without a ticket now faces a $180 misdemeanor penalty, though few such cases are prosecuted. The bill would reduce that to a $25 petty misdemeanor fine.
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Minn. battle over insulin aid to continue in 2020 legislative session

Legislators' offers over past two weeks reveal a persistent partisan divide.
St. Paul city officials say they’d like to add a 1% sales tax to spend on prekindergarten services, housing and roads. Here, street service worker B

Minnesota lawmakers seek to limit cities' growing use of sales taxes

Some legislators worry it could heighten the disparities between cities with and without much retail revenue.
A poll worker spoke with a voter as the Minneapolis Early Voting Center opened Jan. 17.

Parties clash over proposal to limit access to Minn. voter data

The state's top election official and the Minnesota DFL Party are seeking to further limit access to information about which political party voters sided with in the upcoming March primary — a move the state Republican Party condemned as "scare tactics" Thursday.
Lance Daberkow and his family have seen income from their farm shrink over the past two years. “It’s tight, especially with two kids,” he says.

Struggling Minnesota farmers weigh their support for Trump

Many growers around Minnesota facing an uncertain farm economy are having their faith in President Trump tested this time around.
St. Paul’s Ayd Mill Road is one of the metro’s best known potholed-and-patched stretches, widely used as a diagonal shortcut between Interstate 35

How to pay for bridges, roads? Funding battle brews at Capitol

Gov. Tim Walz opted not to draw extensively on borrowing to pay for state highways as part of a $2 billion public infrastructure bonding package he presented last week.
A special election primary Tuesday will likely determine who wins the seat held for 15 years by Rep. Diane Loeffler, who died in November.

A dozen northeast Minneapolis progressives face off in Minnesota House special election

Tuesday's primary will likely determine who lands at the Capitol.
Minnesota Gov.Tim Walz unveiled Wednesday his final bonding packages of $2.028 for his Local Jobs and Projects plan. The announcement was at the Depar

Walz unveils final part of record $2 billion public works plan

The plan includes $212 million for local roads and bridges, as well as more local projects than past borrowing proposals.
In the third stage of his public works proposal rollout, Gov. Tim Walz presented his plan to improve higher education infrastructure across the state.

Walz proposes borrowing $447M for state's colleges, universities

The governor and higher ed leaders said the investment will help build the state's workforce.
Gov. Tim Walz intends to roll out his sweeping public works package in four phases over the next week.

Gov. Walz proposes Minn. borrow $276M for affordable housing

Gov. Tim Walz unveiled the first part of his 2020 state bonding proposal, recommending to the Legislature that Minnesota borrow $276 million to pay for affordable housing projects across the state. Some of the money could be used to add sprinklers to public housing buildings.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Johnson Family Farm in Wells, Minn., on Wednesday to tour the farm and talk about trade tariffs. O

In Minnesota, Michael Bloomberg tries to show ex-N.Y. mayor would fight for rural interests

The candidate's extensive spending here could benefit other Democrats, some said.
The coffins of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others are carried on a truck through Tehran during a funeral procession on Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. Suleim

Omar among lawmakers seeking control over U.S. action on Iran

Democratic lawmakers are seeking limits on the president's use of military force against Iran.
While touring Waseca businesses with Mayor Roy Srp, left, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz headed to 4-Season's Athletics on North State St.

Gov. Tim Walz sees mixed results on campaign priorities

Gov. Tim Walz has made headway on some campaign goals while others fell by the wayside amid partisan gridlock during his first year.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged applause as he arrived at Waseca Junior/Senior High School.

For Gov. Walz, a year of striving for consensus in a divided state

Minnesota's governor enters his second year in office facing a list of unfinished policy priorities, some politically fraught decisions and the complicated backdrop of the 2020 election.
Charlie Zelle answers audience questions during an event to educate the public about the 35W/94 project.

Former MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle to lead Met Council

Nora Slawik, Gov. Tim Walz's original Met Council appointee, resigned in November after about 10 months on the job.
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Minn. legislators clash over insulin funding plan; special session in doubt

House speaker said lawmakers likely won't vote on an emergency insulin program until February.
Among the ideas offered by Senate Majority Leader Majority Paul Gazelka: transportation projects and improved school safety.

What to do with $1.3 billion? A surplus of ideas for Minnesota

But hold up: The forecast doesn't account for $1.2 billion in inflation in the next budget cycle, 2022 and 2023.
Gov. Tim Walz, right, and Myron Frans, of Management and Budget, had a reason to smile.

$1.3B Minn. surplus estimate sparks new spending debate

Legislators and Gov. Tim Walz highlighted different spending priorities Thursday.
President of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association Paul Kvistad presented a 16-pound turkey hen in the Governor's Reception Room, Wednesday, Novemb

Why doesn't Minnesota's governor pardon the ceremonial turkey?

Iowa pardons a turkey. So does North Dakota. And President Trump pardoned two, named Bread and Butter. But Minnesota's ceremonial turkey is destined for a needy family's table.
President Donald Trump makes remarks while signing an executive order, establishing the Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska

Trump signs effort to combat problem of missing and murdered indigenous women

Minnesota tribal leaders laud the federal initiative.
Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River

GOP Minnesota state Rep. Nick Zerwas of Elk River resigns

Four-term Minnesota Rep. Nick Zerwas, battling a lifelong heart condition, announced Monday that he will resign his seat on Dec. 6."My recent heart surgery brought…
Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley. Joined by students from Henry Sibley High School, Minnesota House DFL lawmakers introduced a new compre

DFLers working on bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Former Colorado officials are in Minnesota this week to talk about lessons learned.
Senator Eric Pratt spoke about the the proposed Insulin Availability Program during a hearing at the Senate Office Building at the State Capitol in St

Why the holdup on insulin? Lawmakers race the clock for special session

Legislators remain hopeful about a special session for an insulin plan to help diabetics. But to get to a deal, they have to resolve several key issues.
Gov. Tim Walz talked with FFA Minnesota state secretary Elaine Dorn and state president Lafe Arsvold before speaking at the Ag and Food Summit in Minn

Citing weather and tariffs, Walz asks feds to help hard-hit farmers

Farmers have been pushing for federal disaster assistance after an unusually hard season made worse by President Donald Trump's trade war with China. Walz took up their call Thursday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke during a rally at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus on Sunday, Nov. 3.

Minneapolis isn't on the hook for costs associated with Sanders rally

Sanders' campaign has been reimbursing communities after cities pressed him to pay in 2016.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan walked with University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel to the University’s Institute of Child Developmen

Want state money for a city project in Minnesota? Submit a comment

Communities are competing for state help with more than 200 projects, from trails to bridge repairs.
In this photo from September 2019, Minnesota Senate Republican leaders propose a plan to require drug makers to provide free insulin to qualifying res

Minnesota legislators' new insulin work group aims to reach compromise in next month or two

Legislators, governor's staff hope to reach deal soon to help diabetics with costly medication
U.S. Rep. Angie Craig answered a question during a Town Hall at the Eagan Community Center.

Rep. Angie Craig faces the impeachment divide: 'It's about right and wrong'

Vulnerable House Democrats defend their support for impeachment hearings.
From left, Mohammedamin Kahin, Mukhtar Yusuf, and Mahamud Sharif Abdi on Friday at Village Market mall discussed their reactions to President Donald T

Somali-Minnesotans wonder about their welcome after Trump's speech

Somali-Minnesotans, GOP hear different messages in Trump's speech.
President Donald Trump, shown in 2018, will hold a rally Thursday in Minneapolis, and the city will bear some of the costs.

Trump campaign threatens to sue Mpls. over rally expense

Tensions between Minneapolis city leaders and President Donald Trump's campaign escalated Monday when the campaign threatened to sue the city for trying to force it to pay $530,000 for security during this week's rally.
Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) heads to a vote on the House Floor, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 27, 2019.

GOP airs ads against Craig, other Democrats in swing districts

Similar ads are targeted at other Democrats across the country.
The Gonda Building of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Legislators on the road in southern Minnesota hear about skyrocketing drug prices

"Mini-session" gathers input about issues of concern around the state.
Rep. Gene Pelowski, a Democrat who has represented Winona for more than three decades, was involved the last time his city hosted a legislative gather

Minnesota House heads south for first 'mini-session' in 22 years

Members will hear from greater Minnesota residents and lay the groundwork for next session.
President Donald Trump visited Rochester in October 2018 to rally for GOP Senate hopeful Karin Housley and other party candidates. For his fourth visi

Trump heads into the 'belly of the beast' for his Minneapolis rally

The Oct. 10 rally at Target Center will put the nation's political divide into high relief, something neither side sees as an accident.
In this Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 photo, a nurse shows how to change the dosage on an insulin pen at the family practice Primary Care Specialists in No

Minnesota lawmakers work to reach insulin deal

The need is desperate, House members said at a hearing.
Former Sen. Al Franken

Al Franken launches show on SiriusXM talk radio channel

Franken will also be a guest Thursday on Conan, as he re-enters the public eye.
“I hear testimony about people rationing their insulin,” Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, says in a video that’s been viewed more than 6,600

Minnesota GOP legislator touts $25 insulin at Walmart; diabetics say it has drawbacks

A Lake Crystal Republican's Facebook video about the over-the-counter product has raised concern ahead of this week's hearings on whether the state should help cover skyrocketing insulin costs.
Minnesota Senate Republican leaders propose a plan to require drug makers to provide free insulin to qualifying residents who can't afford the high co

Minn. Senate GOP proposes having doctors order free insulin

The skeptical DFL response to the Republican plan underscored how the two sides remain far apart.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz stresses partnership with state's business leaders

In his first speech at the annual Minnesota Business Partnership dinner, Gov. Tim Walz appealed for additional tax dollars.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, left, and his economic development commissioner, Steve Grove, right, meet with reporters in the governor’s office at the st

International offices pitch Minnesota amid trade turbulence

Minnesota added trade outposts last year, but their work has been scaled back amid uncertainty.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, left, Commissioner Larry Herke, and Patrick Kelly, director of the Minneapolis VA, spoke Wednesday.

Walz administration looks to expand veterans' services

Walz kicks off four-day tour to highlight veterans' issues.
Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, spoke about his proposed End-of-Life Options Act during an informational hearing of the Health and Human Servic

Medically assisted suicide gets a passionate hearing in St. Paul

More than 200 people packed an informational hearing held by a House committee that could advance the proposal when the Legislature convenes.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz heads to Japan, South Korea to promote trade, business

Minnesota's governor hopes to reassure Asian partners that state is still open for business.
Rick Olson is challenging U.S. Rep. Angie Craig.

First Republican challenger enters race against Rep. Angie Craig

Rick Olson served from 2011-12 in Michigan state House before moving to Minnesota.
About 125 people attended a 2018 Cannabis Awareness Day demonstration in St. Paul. DFL Gov. Tim Walz has told state agencies to prepare for the possib

Minnesota DFL, GOP set up showdown over recreational pot

As Democrats launched a state tour, the top Republican legislator said the answer is still no. That comes as a state work group on legalization has been meeting to make recommendations to Gov. Tim Walz.
Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook

State Rep. Matt Grossell demoted for drunken arrest, implied threat to officers

The Republican told St. Paul police he is a legislator and "it will be hell to pay."
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan greeted fairgoers as the gates opened Thursday morning.

Politics, and conflict, unavoidable at Minnesota State Fair

Election Day is far off, but politics are tough to escape at the State Fair.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib at her side, spoke at a press conference at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on Monday, August 19, 2019.

State Rep. Steve Drazkowski calls for charges against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

It's the latest in a series of announcements Drazkowski has made condemning Omar.
Gov. Tim Walz, along with staffers from the state’s Minnesota Trade Office, will be in Tokyo from Sept. 7 through Sept. 10 for the Midwest U.S. Japa

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz headed to Tokyo and Seoul to promote business partnerships

Midwest governors are meeting in Tokyo for a conference.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke with Better Futures Minnesota President Thomas Adams and other staff at the nonprofit’s Minneapolis warehouse Tuesday, w

Candidate Elizabeth Warren launches criminal justice reform plan at Minneapolis roundtable

Incarcerating more people doesn't make nation any safer, the senator and presidential hopeful said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired up a crowd at Macalester College on Monday evening.

Sen. Warren woos Minnesota voters at Macalester rally

The candidate's views on free college and student debt roused the crowd of thousands.
The majority of the recommendations from then-Gov. Mark Dayton’s task force remain unfinished — and the organization that was intended to champion

As new housing groups convene, some ask: Is this just more talk?

Groups off to a slow start in assessing and implementing the 2018 recommendations.
A group of Minnesotans stood outside Shoppers Drug Market pharmacy in Fort Frances, Ontario, in May with three-months supplies of insulin they bought.

Diabetes advocates call for action as emergency insulin funding debate continues

Lawmakers again take up effort to help, but funding is still a sticking point.
The Minnesota State Capitol in the evening sun.

Minnesota State Capitol becomes more accessible to those with disabilities

Gov. Tim Walz celebrated the new ramps during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.
Motor vehicle supervisor Tereza Bazac helps a customer at the Roseville License Center.

Minnesota selects vendor to replace car licensing system

The state will pay nearly $34 million to replace the MNLARS licensing and registration system.
Gov. Tim Walz addressed a rally against gun violence on Wednesday night at the Minnesota State Capitol, flanked by Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, left, and

Walz calls GOP Senate 'island of resistance' in gun debate

The governor echoed the statements later as hundreds rallied at the State Capitol in a rally against gun violence.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan will lead the cabinet. “You’ll judge us by the results at the end,” Walz said Wednesday.

Goc. Tim Walz relaunches state Children's Cabinet

The group will tackle the achievement gap, housing instability and child care.
FILE - Gov. Tim Walz said Monday he would ask Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka to hold hearings on gun bills this fall, following the la

Walz asks for hearings on gun measures ahead of next legislative session

Walz will seek hearings on new gun laws in fall
Minnesota State Capitol.

State of Minnesota has $297 million invested in tobacco firms

Two decades ago, Minnesota reached a landmark settlement with the industry and dumped much of its stock. But divestment is complicated.
The state board responsible for managing public employees’ retirement funds has invested nearly $42 million in the companies behind the two proposed

State investments include controversial copper-nickel mining companies

Fund invests in companies behind two controversial mining proposals in Minn.
Donald Belle, 56, and a homeless Army veteran, smoked a cigarette outside of transitional shelter operated by the Minnesota Assistance Council on Vete

Walz says landlords are missing link in bid to 'end' homelessness among veterans

Gov. Tim Walz asks landlords to commit units to veterans.
The Minnesota State Capitol in the evening sun.

Gov. Walz suggests expanding open government laws to Minn. Legislature

Republicans launch "whistleblower portal" that is not subject to Data Practices Act.
Nicole Smith-Holt attended an advisory task force meeting at the State Capitol in May on lowering the cost of prescription drugs. She lost her 26-year

Minnesota lawmakers agree on insulin program, but funding debate continues

Legislators and Gov. Tim Walz would like to pass the program in a special session.
The Minnesota State Capitol in the evening sun.

Bills in Minnesota Legislature, copied from other states

From abortion to paid sick leave to school choice, legislators use prewritten bills, lifting full paragraphs written by political and religious groups.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar was greeted Thursday by more than 100 supporters cheering "Welcome Home Ilhan" as she arrived home to Minneapolis-St. Paul Intern

Supporters stand with Omar at airport rally and town hall

A crowd of cheering supporters at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was a loud counterpoint to a turbulent week with President Donald Trump.
Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey resigned from his post Monday after just six months on the job.

Minnesota DHS head Lourey resigns abruptly in shake-up

State's Human Services head quits after 2 top deputies resigned.