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
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.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) speaks at the West Des Moines Democrats' annual 4th of July Picnic in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar joins 2020 candidates pushing for equal pay for female athletes

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is one of several Democratic presidential candidates decrying a pay disparity between male and female athletes, an issue championed by the U.S.…
Erin George handed children a free lunch from the Summer Food Service Program truck at a St. Paul apartment complex.

State aims to provide more students summer meals

Teams spread out to make sure no child goes hungry during break from school.
In 2016, Anthony Rodgers of Wauwatosa, Wis., loaded a box of fireworks with his wife, Kimberly, into their car outside of Uncle Sam's Fireworks in Way

Fireworks enthusiasts' hopes are ignited at Minnesota Capitol

Gov. Tim Walz is "open to the idea" of legalizing the sale and use of big fireworks.
In Minnesota, the number of doctor-legislators has jumped from zero to four since 2016.

More doctors dive into public health advocacy in and out of Minn. Capitol

Doctors have been notably scarce at the Capitol for decades. Has their increased presence made a difference?
State Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul.

Appeals Court rejects Rep. John Lesch's immunity claim in defamation case

State Rep. John Lesch plans to appeal the decision.
Martha Gibbs, a friend and former inmate with Amreya Shefa, wept while talking about her at Tuesday’s hearing.

Emotions strong, debate intense as Pardons Board weighs fates

Pardon for woman who killed her husband in 2013 appears unlikely.

Minnesota senators boost housing allowance

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee consulted Twin Cities property managers and found rental costs had increased about 10% over the past three years.
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer held a town hall in Ramsey in January.

DFL volunteer resigns over 'reprehensible' tweet aimed at Rep. Tom Emmer's son in military

It was the second time in the past week that tweet about the military landed someone affiliated with the DFL in the spotlight.
Gov. Tim Walz laughed with Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan before he took the oath of office at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

Minnesota tribal leaders say Walz, Flanagan live up to campaign promises

Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan, who is Ojibwe, are seen as rebuilding Indian trust.
The USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul is launched into the Menominee River from Fincanteiri Marinette Marine in Marinette Wis., on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

Walz 'appalled' by DFL staffer's 'murder boat' tweet on USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul

The state DFL Party employee was removed from a communications position.
Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and Gov. Tim Walz during budget negotiations last month.

Walz to undergo knee surgery; Flanagan to briefly assume top job

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan will temporarily assume the governor's role.
Gov. Tim Walz said he would not call a special session on insulin prices until state legislators worked out a deal.

Gov. Tim Walz says he's open to special session on insulin prices

After a bipartisan bill failed during the session, the governor said drug manufacturers need to be part of the solution to address insulin prices. "The clear issue here … is that the manufacturers don't want to pay," he said
Doug Wardlow’s attorney general campaign spent $910,490 over two years.

Wardlow fined $46K for excess expenses in attorney general run

Former GOP attorney general candidate Doug Wardlow faces a fine of more than $46,000 after exceeding the state’s spending limit in the heated race against…
Mary Spaulding and her son Ry’Le entered a raffle at Highland Park Elementary’s carnival before she left for her split shift.

Minnesota's neediest families to see first MFIP cash increase in 33 years

As federal aid was diverted to other programs, welfare recipients were left behind.
Under the watchful eye of pre-K children at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul, Gov. Tim Walz signed the state’s school funding bill into law

Walz signs 'compromise' education budget; educators say it doesn't go far enough

The $20 billion bill was part of state's $45 billion two-year budget.
Nicole Smith-Holt arrived at the State Capitol for an advisory task force meeting on lowering the cost of prescription drugs. She lost her 26-year-old

Lawmakers, advocates: Work on emergency insulin program not over

Advocates for insulin plan to continue push in the next legislative session.
Lawmakers returned to the State Capitol on Friday for a special session.

Minnesota lawmakers approve $48B budget in special session

After an all-night special session, both houses of the Legislature adjourned just before 7 a.m. after a series of votes on the next two years of state spending. But there was no deal on a public works borrowing bill, which will wait until next year.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Melissa Hortman at a Sunday news conference announcing the budget agree

Walz calls special session for today to finalize state budget deal

The move caps a week of closed-door talks between the governor and House and Senate leaders scrambling to fill in details of state government budget bills.
A sign for Bde Maka Ska near the south shore of the south Minneapolis lake.

DFL lawmakers yield on Bde Maka Ska, leave name to courts

Lawmakers continue hash out budget bills' details ahead of special session.
A special session still looms at the Capitol to finish much of the work that was not completed before the session came to a close at midnight on Monda

Session's ending leaves many unhappy with closed process

On the day after, left-out legislators, interest groups and the public say lack of transparency in late-session deals must end.
Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt came onto the House floor Monday to talk with other Republican legislators and House Speaker Melissa Hortm

Legislature adjourns, but plans to come back Thursday

With time running out, legislative leaders tentatively planned a special session Thursday to hammer out final budget agreements through a series of conference committees or "working groups."
Governor Tim Walz met privately Monday with journalists to make his case for the budget deal, hammered out over the last week and announced Sunday nig

State budget deal: No gas tax hike; health care tax continues

The deal denies Gov. Tim Walz much of the new revenue he wanted for road improvements, but leaves mostly intact a health care tax that Republicans sought to end. There's also a small middle-class income tax cut.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan left the Thursday evening budget negotiation looking somber.

Budget talks between Gov. Walz, legislative leaders break off

As Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders were meeting, lawmakers prepared a stopgap funding deal, which the Senate Finance Committee approved.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, MMB Commissioner Myron Frans, House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan headed into another round of budget n

Gov. Tim Walz vows to 'get results' amid long day of budget talks with GOP

Deadline looms on Monday.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan returned to their offices after responding to the GOP budget offer Monday.

GOP, Dems sharply divided on taxes, stalling budget talks again

Monday's breakdown came after hours of incremental progress as formal negotiations resumed in earnest for the first time in nearly a week.
Lobbyists and legislators at the Capitol acknowledged many of the partisan priorities they fought for over the past five months will be eliminated in

As Minnesota Legislature wraps up, partisan differences hang on budget negotiations

Bargaining chips abound as lawmakers tuck pet policies into end-of-session budget bills.
The newly elected regents, from left, are: Janie Mayeron, Mike Kenyanya, Kao Ly Ilean Her and Mary Davenport.

Lawmakers pick 4 new regents in push to diversify U board

Affordability and workforce changes are among the issues faced by the University of Minnesota and cited by the newcomers.
Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, 53, was arrested about 3:30 a.m. Saturday for refusing to leave Regions Hospital after an evaluation.

Rep. Matt Grossell faces additional charge for allegedly pushing security guard during weekend confrontation

Grossell was already charged with trespassing at Regions Hospital on Saturday.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks with reporters at the State Capitol Monday during a break in talks with House Democratic and Senate Republican leaders

Walz, GOP fail to meet self-imposed deadline for budget targets

The two sides called financial negotiations "positive" and "respectful" Monday afternoon, but said their approaches to setting a budget are fundamentally opposed.
Gov. Tim Walz receives applause after signing into law a repeal of the state’s pre-existing relationship defense on Thursday. From left are Lt. Gov.

Gov. Tim Walz signs law repealing marital rape exemption

The governor gave credit to Jenny Teeson, who has spent months telling legislators how she was drugged and sexually assaulted by her then-husband.
“It’s very, very different. I think there’s an absolutely zero-tolerance environment,” said Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brook

Lawmakers, lobbyists describe cautious Capitol in wake of #MeToo

There are guidelines for complaints and training, but some question how much has really changed.
Gov. Tim Walz, his daughter Hope, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, and her parter Tom Weber took part in a smudging ceremony led by Rev. Marlene Helgemo and H

Gov. Tim Walz takes on push to create a diverse state workforce

He says he's building on Mark Dayton's work, but the executive branch still lags behind goal.
The Minnesota State Capitol .

Minnesota House's $1.8 billion public works proposal faces tough Republican reception

The list of demands is long, but the chance of a major borrowing bill appears small.
Officer Chris Walswick with the Burnsville Police talked with a driver during a traffic stop in 2017.

Minn. drivers who text could face bigger fines and suspensions

Another measure in the Legislature would require drivers to use hands-free devices instead of cellphones.
Tristan Dieterle, 10, from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, showed his excitement with meeting Michigan State's Sparty mascot as he waited with his aunt, c

Who will be in NCAA title game? Final Four fans sweat out end of night

Fans celebrated on the streets. even amid the rain, before heading inside U.S. Bank Stadium to watch Virginia rally to beat Auburn 63-62.
Speaker Melissa Hortman said the House has “a trust with the voters” to keep key issues in play as long as it can.

Guns, driver's licenses will be part of end-of-session budget negotiations

House Democrats have started tucking some of the most controversial policy measures this session into big budget bills.
House Representative Raymond Dehn gave a thumbs-up as hundreds of Minnesotans from the Freedom to Drive coalition filled the Capitol Rotunda as the Mi

Minnesota House passes bill to allow driver's licenses for all

The Minnesota House passed a measure Friday 74-52 that would give all immigrants the ability to get driver's licenses, even if they are in the country illegally.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke about his friend's death during the State of the State Address at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday, April 3, 201

Gov. Walz tries to break through gridlock by telling stories of Minnesotans

Speaking off the cuff during his State of the State address, Walz talked about eight Minnesotans, including a doctor, teacher and farmer, to underscore his key policy and spending plans.
Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka discusses the Senate GOP budget proposal at a news conference at the state Capitol on Thursday, March 28

Minnesota Senate Republicans say no new taxes, fees in budget plan

Democrats say the plan would force the state to cut services.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, shown in January.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will speak at Minnesota DFL fundraiser

She will headline the annual Humphrey Mondale Dinner.
Nicole Smith-Holt, right, and James Holt Jr., left, were among the Minnesotans who showed up at the State Capitol on Tuesday to back drug price contro

Patients, Minnesota legislators push for lower drug prices, more transparency

The Minnesota Senate and House agree on the issue but differ on the remedy.
Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, and Gov. Tim Walz

Minnesota House Democrats propose budget, additional taxes

Senate Republican leaders expected to offer their version later this week.
Janet Nguyen, a first-generation college student and sophomore at the University of Minnesota, worries about rising tuition.

Gov. Walz boosts college funding plan after Minn. students raise red flags

Governor's revised plan adds $13 million to Minnesota State and $12 million to the University of Minnesota.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke with Tony Sanneh of the Sanneh Foundation during the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's annual policy kickoff event in January.

Gov. Walz trims budget plan after lower surplus prediction

His budget provides the starting point for negotiations with the Legislature. House Democrats will lay out their spending targets Monday, and Senate Republicans plan to unveil their proposals next Friday.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke with Tony Sanneh of the Sanneh Foundation during the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's annual policy kickoff event in January in St.

Gov. Tim Walz to press for budget plan in first State of the State

The governor said he will hold one of his future State of the State addresses in greater Minnesota.
Gov. Tim Walz stopped to greet Alivia Depa, 5, following a roundtable discussion on health care in St. Cloud.

Gov. Tim Walz faces high budget demands in rural Minnesota

Governor hits road to make personal pitch on his budget, touting its rural benefits.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama, left, spoke with journalist Michele Norris about her memoir “Becoming” on Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Michelle Obama fans pack Xcel Energy Center for her book tour

Attendees jumped out of their seats in St. Paul when the former first lady took the stage to talk about her life and bestselling memoir "Becoming."
Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein spoke about her Equal Rights Amendment bill, a measure that will let voters decide whether to alter the state's Constitution t

Minnesota House passes Equal Rights Amendment

It would put a measure on the 2020 ballot letting voters decide whether to alter the state's Constitution to say people have equal rights regardless of gender.
Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari

Immigration is key to growth, Minneapolis Fed president tells legislators

Kashkari was the first Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank president to testify at the Minnesota Legislature.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lieutenant Gov. Peggy Flanagan held a news conference Monday to announce energy and climate policy initiatives.

Walz aims for 100 percent clean energy in Minnesota by 2050

Utilities, critics say clean sources not reliable and costs would soar.
The MINNTAC taconite mine in Mountain Iron, Minn. State budget officials credited tariffs on imported steel with helping bolster the economy of the Ir

Iron Range jobs, exports bounce back with help of Trump tariffs

Iron ore prices and Minnesota's mining operations have seen a boost. And that could mean a political boost, too.
Gov. Tim Walz, center, with other officials and staff, including Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, at his right, waited to speak at the Department of Revenue b

Budget surplus shrinks to $1B in state economic forecast

Slower economic growth to pose new challenges for governor, legislators as they forge new spending plan.
Motor vehicle supervisor Tereza Bazac helped a customer at the Roseville License Center. Problems with the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System

Auditors recommend more transparency, oversight for state's IT agency

They also raised concerns about a lack of measures to ensure accountability.
Governor Tim Walz toured the Upper Post Veterans Community at Fort Snelling, remodeled as a place to live for formerly homeless veterans. He touted it

Gov. Walz proposes $1.3 billion in infrastructure projects

The governor's bonding plan would invest in housing, transportation and colleges and universities. Republicans called the proposal premature because big borrowing packages usually only occur every other year.
Rep. Cal Bahr spoke at the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus rally on Feb. 23.

Rep. Cal Bahr says "kicked to the curb" comment misinterpreted

GOP Rep. Cal Bahr says he wasn't inciting violence.
Gov. Tim Walz at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's annual policy kickoff event. Business leaders are wary of Walz’s plan to fix crumbling roads an

Gas tax hike? How high? Debate begins over how much Minnesotans should pay at the pump

Gov. Tim Walz may have to offer concessions to win funding for plan to fix state's "crumbling roads and bridges."
A sample standard Minnesota driver’s license.

Push begins in Minnesota to allow driver's licenses for all

Broader access would be granted to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz proposed a state budget that would raise gas and vehicle taxes and spend more money on priorities he touted as a candidate.

Walz proposes gas tax hike, more money for schools, roads

The governor's proposed budget includes a 20-cent gas tax increase and an increase in the motor vehicle sales tax and registration tax.
Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed budget includes a “down payment” on education funding. Inauguration Day. Tim Walz will be sworn in as Minnesota's 41st

Walz aims to invest in health care, education, communities

The governor prepares to debut his vision for the next two years of state spending on Tuesday with his budget proposal rollout.
Vehicle owners waited in line in South St. Paul at the Quick-Serv License Center.

Legislative auditor details failures with state's vehicle licensing system

The Minnesota legislative auditor found technical, staffing and transparency problems with state's vehicle registration and driver licensing system, leading to delays for motorists and headaches for front-line workers.
“These are the pillars we are laying out, so that when the governor lays out his budget we’ll compare that,” said Senate Majority Leader Sen. Pa

No new taxes, government accountability among Senate GOP budget priorities

Gov. Tim Walz announces his budget plan Tuesday.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar wipes snow from her hair after announcing she is running for president of the United States, at Boom Island Park, Sunday, Feb.

Sen. Klobuchar joins 2020 fray: 'I'm running for every American'

Sen. Amy Klobuchar will test her hometown brand on the national stage as she throws her hat into the ring for the 2020 race to be the President of the United States.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz took the stage last month to be interviewed by Minnesota Chamber President Doug Loon during the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce'

Tax credits proposed to spur business investments in Minnesota

Gov. Tim Walz, legislators want to reinstate the angel tax credit program.
Deputy Register 035 Vinton Lewis and his wife Janet who run the South Saint Paul Quick-Serv License Center have had to take tens of thousands of dolla

Walz seeks nearly $16 million for more fixes to car licensing system

Governor's $16M request includes money to handle backlog in plate, title requests.
Young people from across Minnesota enter the office of Gov. Tim Walz at the state Capitol Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in St. Paul, Minn. where they met h

Lawmakers want Minnesota's energy to be carbon-free by 2050

Dozens of people showed up at the State Capitol to champion or warn against the idea.

Measure addressing racist deeds advances

Measure would help homeowners identify restrictive covenants.
Democrat Tim Walz, left, defeated Republican Jeff Johnson in the 2018 Minnesota governor's race.

Walz raised $1.6M more than his GOP rival in governor's race

End-of-year fundraising reports show significant financial support for Walz, including heavy spending by independent groups backing his candidacy.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, spoke in front of a group of anti-abortion legislators during a rally at the capitol Thursday to oppose

Minnesota legislators rally against reduced abortion restrictions in other states

Virginia governor's comment, N.Y. changes spark backlash in Minnesota
Rep. Pat Garofalo,R-Farmington, shown in a 2018 file photo, wants to end per diem payments during the months the Legislature is in session.

Minnesota lawmaker wants to end per-diem payments for legislators

A Legislative Salary Council has also recommended eliminating per diems.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke after taking the oath of office at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn.

Gov. Walz proposes $30 million boost to local government aid

New governor wants to raise it back to 2002 levels.
Sven Clogs owner Marie Rivers says her employees make craftsman wages, but a lack of affordable housing near Chisago City is “a nightmare” for man

Housing advocates see 'grand alliance' to push for funding at Capitol

Cities, nonprofits pushing for solutions at Capitol.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke after taking the oath of office at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn.

Residents, landlords fear shutdown impacts on housing come March

Gov. Tim Walz eyes state aid as U.S. shutdown strains funds for programs like Section 8.
In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 file photo, a pediatrician holds a dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine at his practice in Northridge, Cali

Vaccine skeptics on MN Autism Council touch off debate

Council members said they don't want disagreements to derail their work.
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer held a town hall in Ramsey.

Emmer gets earful on shutdown, immigration at town hall

Frustrations flared over immigration policy and the monthlong government shutdown at a testy town hall meeting that U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer held in Ramsey.
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