Staff Directory 280701532

Jessie Van Berkel

Reporter | St. Paul
Jessie Van Berkel writes about the city of St. Paul. A Minnesota native and University of Minnesota graduate, she returned to her home state after covering local government in Florida for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and public safety at the Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wis.
Recent content from Jessie Van Berkel
The South Saint Paul Quick-Serv License Center in 2017, one of the sites wrestling with changes in the state's vehicle-registration system.

Gov. Dayton signs compromise giving $10 million to fix vehicle registration system

State's vehicle registration system still won't be fully functional even with fix.

House bills would increase penalty for attacking an officer, prevent police disarmament

Lawmakers want to prevent cities from disarming officers.
A haul of fireworks bought in Wisconsin and brought back to Minnesota. Wisconsin’s border with Minnesota is lined with fireworks businesses, say adv

Minnesota legislators rekindle fireworks debate

Minnesotans now just head to other states to buy the big ones, some say.

Groups spend $74M to lobby policymakers and the Public Utilities Commission

Business interests and the teachers union also spent a lot to influence officials.
Donny Vosen, left, deputy registrar in Brainerd passed State Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles as they spoke to the committee about the problems with MNL

Senate approves $10 million for MNLARS, but cash will go fast

Bills to fix vehicle licensing system are now headed to conference committee.
Along with the tax changes, Gov. Mark Dayton laid out a long list of areas where he wants to spend the state’s $329 million surplus.

Dayton spending plan aims for tax relief for many Minnesotans

It would reverse some of the tax cuts legislators added last year, while retooling state tax code after federal changes.
Minnesota sample identification card and drivers license.

Minnesota could get another Real ID extension

Dayton says Homeland Security may be flexible.
In this 2006 photo, Minnesota State Patrol trooper Adam Flynn handcuffed a driver suspected of operative a vehicle while intoxicated.

Repeat drunk drivers would lose Minnesota license under new bill

Proposal under consideration at Capitol would let offenders petition court after 10 years to restore their license.
Gov. Mark Dayton waved and smiled at his family in the gallery at the beginning of his State of the State speech on Wednesday night.

Dayton wraps up final State of State with a focus on finances

He also called for more state spending on education, public works infrastructure and school safety, saying he wants to leave the state in better financial condition than he found in 2011.

GOP proposes work requirement for Minnesotans getting medical assistance

Medical Assistance recipients who are not working, job hunting or volunteering could lose their benefits under a measure Minnesota legislators proposed Monday.Republicans in the House…
Thousands of high school students walked out of their schools and marched to the State Capitol to protest gun violence and pressure lawmakers to enact

State senators propose universal background checks, reporting

The four legislators, who represent areas where there is strong support for gun rights, said the stories of high school students compelled them to push the measures.
Patty and Jerry Wetterling have asked to keep some documents related to their son Jacob's disappearance out of the public eye.

Wetterling legal battle over documents leads to bill to make more info private

Opponent says the measure would block access to more data than the author intended.
FILE - In this April 1, 2017 file photo, a service dog strolls through the isle inside a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport

Minnesota lawmakers aim to crack down on fake service animals

About 20 other states have passed similar laws to block impostors.
Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, said it does not make sense to him that someone who is not yet allowed to drink alcohol can purchase an assault wea

DFL legislators propose raising age to buy semiautomatic weapons

Gov. Dayton has said he would support the idea, but lawmakers have seen little progress on other gun control bills this session.
Eva Goldfarb, a junior at St. Louis Park High School called on elected leaders to act on school safety. Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday proposed $21 mil

Dayton proposes $21M plan for school security, mental health

The DFL governor said he supports controversial gun control actions advocates have called for, but he didn't want those measures to prevent the rest of the plan from moving forward.
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 dol

Minn. legislators roll out plans to fix registration system's troubles

A House panel passed a bill that uses existing funds to continue the MNLARS overhaul and reduces the DFL governor's executive agency spending by $10 million over the next year.
New MNIT Commissioner Johanna Clyborne explained the case in February for additional funding from the legislature to keep MNLARS afloat. On the left i

Frustration over fix for MNLARS mounts at Capitol

Some legislators have suggested private vendor for licensing technology.
Caren Gallagher listened as high school junior Eva Goldfarb spoke about the fear that students experience in school from the threat of guns. Advocates

Gun control measures get hearing, then stall at State Capitol

Backers managed to force a hearing in the Minnesota House on two gun control measures, but the GOP-led committee voted to table both bills.
Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans presented the February budget forecast which projected a $329 million budget surplus for the 2018-19 bi

Minnesota budget office projects $329 million surplus

The most recent budget forecast last December projected a $188 million budget deficit, but that turned into a surplus in the intervening months.
New MNIT Commissioner Johanna Clyborne explained the case for additional funding from the legislature to keep MNLARS afloat. On the left is Dana Baile

Minnesota lawmakers question MNLARS costs, hear funds needed now

Staff layoffs could delay MNLARS upgrades and push back the timeline to fix the system.
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.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Speaker Kurt Daudt

Minnesota Senate Republicans say tax changes, school safety top priorities this session

They want to address school safety, infrastructure and taxes.
Advocates packed all three floors of the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda in St. Paul on Thursday during a rally calling for sensible gun laws sponsore

Gun violence protesters crowd Minn. Capitol, call for action

Minnesotans descend on Capitol to demand tougher laws to prevent gun violence, but Republican majorities show little interest.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, left, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, shown last year.

Minnesota Legislature votes to restore House, Senate operating budgets

Gov. Dayton, whose veto last year led to a legal battle, has said he would sign.
The Minnesota House chamber is shown in this 2016 photo.

Minnesota lawmakers start session with sexual harassment training, promise to work on problems

Legislators said they need to improve policies at the Capitol and statewide.
Three minutes after the noon call of the chair, Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach waited for the DFL Senate members to come into the Senate chamber on Tuesd

Legislature opens with short sessions and a dose of drama

The debate over Michelle Fischbach's ability to serve was not the only dramatic scene unfolding in St. Paul as the Legislature convened for the first time this year.
speaking up by lying down: Students took part Monday in a “lie-in” on the road outside the White House for 3 minutes at a time in an effort to sym

Advocates turn to Legislature for Minnesota gun law changes

The Florida school shooting that killed 17 students and teachers last week has galvanized gun-control groups. Second Amendment advocates, meanwhile, want lawmakers to reconsider gun-rights bills that fell by the wayside last year.
The Minnesota State Capitol, where the Legislature will start work Tuesday. Gov Mark Dayton said he and lawmakers would have to figure out how to work

Tax changes are top priority as Minnesota Legislature convenes

Legislators need bipartisan efforts in short session that starts Tuesday.
A protest against sexual harassment was held last year at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Legislative session will kick off with harassment training

Sexual harassment will be one of the first issues legislators contemplate when the session kicks off Tuesday. The Minnesota House and Senate both scheduled sexual…
Karla Bigham and Jeremy Munson were voted senator and representative, respectively, for their districts after Monday's special elections in Minnesota.

Outside cash fails to flip seats in two offseason Minnesota races

The GOP and DFL each held onto their seats Monday in two nationally watched legislative special elections in south-central Minnesota and the southeast suburbs.
Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach chatted with one of her lawyers before a motion hearing in the civil lawsuit claiming she should give up her Senate seat a

Suit dismissed against Fischbach over Senate seat; fight unlikely over

Suit is premature until GOP legislator attempts to take seat, judge rules.
The Minnesota State Capitol

Cash pours in for two Minnesota special elections

There are two high-stakes special elections Monday, both stand to test whether the DFLers can capture the same political momentum that Democrats have ridden to win recent special elections in other states.
Rep. Paul Thissen

State Rep. Paul Thissen drops out of Minnesota governor's race

'Now is not the right time for my candidacy,' says Thissen, a former House speaker from Minneapolis.
Sally and George Pillsbury.

Sally Pillsbury, active promoter of women, the Guthrie, the U, dies at 93

Pillsbury, a political and philanthropic force in Minnesota for decades, died Saturday night at 93. An active Republican, she fought for gender equity and supported female candidates at a time when women were largely absent from the State Capitol.
Justin Timberlake performs at the Super Bowl hafltime show at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Enthusiastic fans settle in to the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium

The mood in the stadium was enthusiastic at kickoff, and the crowd continued to roar as the game got underway. Eagles fans seemed to outnumber Patriots fans — or at least have a louder fan base, chanting in the concourses, waving handkerchiefs and offering hugs and high-fives to surrounding fans.
A group of glowing penguins danced around an egg as attendees of the annual Luminary Loppet watched Saturday.

Ice maze at MIA, Loppet draw winter weather fans

The events show Minnesota's embrace of winter in full bloom.
Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, is now Minnesota lieutenant governor, and she says she intends to keep her state Senate seat, which is a point of c

Lt. Gov. Fischbach hits back at lawsuit challenging her two roles

She wants to serve as lieutenant governor and senator simultaneously.
The South St. Paul Quick-Serv License Center.

State to present ideas for fixing registration system and costs

Some of those who were affected by the continuing troubles with MNLARS helped shape the plan.
New England Patriots' Tom Brady answers questions during NFL football Super Bowl 52 Opening Night Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, at the Xcel Center in St. Pau

Brady among top draws at Xcel Energy Center event for fans to see Super Bowl foes

Fans show colors (including purple) at opening celebration.
The state’s Senate Tax Committee chairman, Sen. Roger Chamberlain, shown in 2012, along with local senators, will be talking with residents at event

Town hall discussions planned on tax reform

The state's Senate Tax Committee chairman, Sen. Roger Chamberlain, along with local senators, will be talking with residents at events from Lake George to Zumbrota.
Minnesota Management and Budget released details Friday of harassment in the state government’s executive branch, along with a report recommending n

266 sexual harassment complaints filed in state agencies from 2012-17

New reporting system, changes in culture needed, the report found.
Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans said his department has “significant, continued, and well-documented concerns” with gains

Minn. budget office failed to launch profit-sharing program, auditor says

Program rewards state staff for their cost-saving ideas.
Reformist Muslim activist Raheel Raza speaks with Republican legislators at the Minnesota Capitol on Wednesday.

Minnesota legislators' meeting with reformist Muslim sparks controversy

Muslim reformist Raheel Raza and local Somali activists talked about radicalization.
Republican state Rep. Roz Peterson.

Minnesota DFLers say Raheel Raza, affiliated with 'hate groups,' should not speak at Capitol

They want Raheel Raza's invite rescinded, say she's affiliated with hate groups.
A throng of people gathered Monday at the Capitol to protest the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling that legalized abortion. The March for Life had to be m

Protesters mark Roe vs. Wade anniversary at Capitol

March for Life at Minnesota Capitol drew more than 1,000 people
A bitterly divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown late Friday that could have wide-reaching but varying effects across the country.

In Minnesota, shutdown means layoffs, unpaid work for many

The effect on federal departments varies widely, but those who will feel it the most will be federal employees in Minnesota and across the nation.
Dan Condon hands out Irish cream and coffee to stir up Sunday sales at United Liquors in Bloomington.

Mixed reviews as Minnesota adjusts to Sunday liquor sales

Despite customers' initial excitement, many store owners said Sunday sales have been more of a burden than a boon.
As part of Gov. Dayton's proposed infrastructure spending, the Stone Arch Bridge in downtown Minneapolis would get a $12 million renovation.

Gov. Dayton proposes $1.5B in infrastructure projects for state

Gov. Mark Dayton says the spending would create jobs and boost the state's economy. Fort Snelling and the Stone Arch Bridge would get upgrades.
Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville

Constituent sues Lt. Gov. Fischbach, says she must give up Senate seat

Sauk Rapids resident Destiny Dusosky sued Fischbach on Friday, arguing she can't be both lieutenant governor and a state senator.
Eric Graning of ComLink Midwest installed a fiber optic cable for Palmer Wireless, which had received a state grant to supply high speed broadband to

Minnesota task force says $35.7 million needed annually to expand broadband

About 252,000 homes have insufficient access.
Pam Myhra, in a 2015 photograph, is the first Republican to launch a campaign for state auditior in 2018.

Pam Myhra, former state lawmaker, is first Republican in Minnesota state auditor's race

Myhra, of Burnsville, is competing with two DFLers for the open seat.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., shown in October.

Trafficking law sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar focuses on truckers

President Donald Trump signed the two pieces of legislation last week.
Sen. Tina Smith talked with Wyoming Machine Inc. Co-Presidents Traci and Lori Tapani and Traci’s daughters Ailie and Maija Olson. Smith made her fir

Sen. Tina Smith emphasizes workforce shortage at first Minnesota appearance since swearing-in

Closing gap between employer needs, worker skills is a priority, senator said
The South Saint Paul Quick-Serv License Center in a photo from September. Months into the rollout of a system upgrade for Minnesota's vehicle licensin

Lawmakers ask: How long until Minn. licensing system is fixed?

Officials say timeframe for repairs to error-plagued licensing system overhaul will be released later in January.
Ann Kaner-Roth

Ann Kaner-Roth, deputy secretary of state and champion for LGBTQ rights, dies at 49

After about 15 years fighting to change state policies from the outside, she started working for Minnesota's government in 2015.
Rep. Paul Thissen participated in a forum for DFL gubernatorial candidates in October.

Rep. Paul Thissen of Minneapolis, candidate for governor and former House speaker, won't run for re-election

Thissen, who served one term as speaker and six years as House DFL leader, is one of many candidates running for governor in 2018.
State Auditor Rebecca Otto testified at a February 2017 hearing of the House State Government Finance Committee.

Minnesota Supreme Court hears arguments over private firms auditing counties

Auditor Rebecca Otto says a 2015 law all but dismantles her office.
Sen. Michelle Fischbach's colleagues say she has a strong sense of fairness. But she still hasn’t ruled out resigning if she has to give up her Sena

GOP state senator prepares for unusual role as Dayton's No. 2

It will be the first time in 54 years that Minnesota has had a governor and lieutenant governor from different political parties.
Sen. Al Franken hugged Sen. Amy Klobuchar at the end of his speech Thursday night in Minneapolis.

Sen. Al Franken to supporters: 'I'm not giving up my voice'

Senator makes valedictory speech as one poll shows he's still popular.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s 12th year in office is coming to an end.

After 12 years as mayor, Chris Coleman sees a changed St. Paul

As his third and final term ends, he is transitioning to a new full-time job: running for governor.
MNIT Commissioner Thomas Baden takes questions from members of the Senate Transportation Committee at a November 2017 hearing.

Minnesota IT commissioner to retire in February

Tom Baden leaving in February after troubled licensing system introduction.
Exterior of the Victoria Theater.

Momentum builds to restore Frogtown's Victoria Theater

Supporters of long-vacant 'Vic' secured key funding this month for future renovation.
Diane Tepfer holds a sign with an image of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai as the "Grinch who Stole the Internet" as she pro

Two legislators say they will push to protect net neutrality

A previous measure aimed at protecting data privacy failed last year.
The McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul is closing abruptly.

McNally Smith students, faculty face uncertain future after closure

Thirty-eight graduates will gather Saturday at the History Theatre for the institution's final commencement.
Samuel Clark, St. Paul city attorney and candidate for Minnesota attorney general.

St. Paul City Attorney Sam Clark announces campaign for Minnesota attorney general

Clark has been St. Paul city attorney for less than three years.
St. Paul City Council Members Amy Brendmoen, left, and Rebecca Noecker, pictured earlier this year, are set to become the council president and vice p

Amy Brendmoen set to become St. Paul City Council president

She'll replace Russ Stark, who said he wants to focus on other projects.
The DFL kicked off its get-out-the-vote bus tour at the State Capitol Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in St. Paul, MN. Here, Sen. Al Franken, second from le

Tina Smith, a political insider, steps onto the national stage

Long known as a "velvet hammer" behind the scenes, she must craft her own public persona as Minnesota's next senator.
The St. Paul City Council, pictured in April 2017, approved the 2018 budget Wednesday.

St. Paul City Council approves 2018 budget that shifts street maintenance costs to tax bills

Council members approved a nearly 24 percent tax levy increase.
Site of the former Ford Assembly Plant in St. Paul.

St. Paul City Council blocks effort to place Ford site plan on 2018 ballot

Opponents of the plan wanted to put the issue on the ballot in the next election.
St. Paul Mayor-elect Melvin Carter, shown celebrating last month, plans to enlist 80 volunteers from across St. Paul to review and interview candidate

St. Paul Mayor-elect Melvin Carter asks community to help select department directors

St. Paul panels will help pick city's division heads.
Adding police downtown is part of St. Paul’s skyway improvement plan.

Improvements slated for St. Paul skyways, but there's 'a long way to go'

Security plans, more police address some of the concerns.

After a year of change, St. Paul reviews new police complaint system

Police no longer serve on the commission that reviews misconduct.
Supporters of increasing the minimum wage in St. Paul to $15 per hour, who have a supporter in Mayor-elect Melvin Carter, rallied in front of Walmart

Minimum wage debate takes off in St. Paul, with next mayor vowing $15

New mayor supports boost to minimum wage, but resistance remains.
Ben Greilanger photographed an old St. Paul firehouse, juxtaposed with a historical photo, for his “Then in Now” project.

Photographer captures St. Paul's history against a new backdrop

The past merges with present day as photographer documents landmarks.
Pedestrians made their way through a St. Paul skyway, where many people who are homeless have looked to for shelter.

Emergency shelter opens in St. Paul as the number of homeless people climbs

Move was prompted by earlier closing of skyways, growing number of homeless in Ramsey County.
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