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
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.
Republican state Sen. Scott Jensen, a doctor from Chaska, wants pharmacy benefit managers to be licensed, disclose conflicts of interest and expand ph

Senate Republicans push for direct primary care

They proposed regulating managers who can affect prescription drug cost and access.
Gov. Tim Walz, shown in December, announced a plan Tuesday to ease the impacts of the federal government shutdown in Minnesota.

Gov. Tim Walz announces plan to ease shutdown impacts in Minnesota

The state is looking at options to make sure it receives federal reimbursements.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke as he was interviewed by Minnesota Chamber President Doug Loon during the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's annual policy kickoff ev

Gov. Tim Walz tells business leaders he understands regulatory and tax concerns

Business leaders said they were optimistic about working with the governor, despite policy differences.
Melissa Hortman accepted the speaker's gavel from Secretary of State Steve Simon after she was sworn in as House speaker on Tuesday.

As Legislature convenes, Senate GOP unveils 5 top-priority bills

Disagreements with House Democrats quickly emerged.
Tim Walz will is sworn in as Minnesota's 41st governor, behind him are constitutional officers Attorney General Keith Ellison, Secretary of State Stev

Walz emphasizes vision of 'One Minnesota' as he's sworn in

Gov. Tim Walz returned to the themes he pressed in his campaign, pledging to focus on improving education, health care and the state's infrastructure.
Gov.-elect Tim Walz, shown last month.

Five major issues awaiting the new Legislature

The budget and health care costs lead the way.

New laws going into effect: State minimum wage goes up Jan. 1

Other new laws seek to prevent child identity theft and treat PTSD.
Motor vehicle supervisor Tereza Bazac helps a customer at the Roseville License Center.

Fixes on the way, but costs expected to grow for Minnesota licensing system

State is still rolling out upgrades, but funding will run out in February.
State Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, in a March 2015 file photo.

Investigation into Minnesota House member ends without discipline

It's not clear how House policies apply in the case of Rep. Rod Hamilton, researchers said.
Gov.-elect Tim Walz

Walz names commissioners for education and corrections

Mary Cathryn Ricker, Dennis Olson and Paul Schnell are named.
The five named Tuesday, from left: Jennifer Ho, Housing Finance Agency; Margaret Anderson Kelliher, MnDOT; Alice Roberts-Davis, Department of Administ

Gov.-elect Tim Walz picks first five state agency commissioners

He will be keeping on a couple hires from the previous administration as cabinet members, while bringing in some new state agency leaders — including two former legislators.
Joan Gabel, sole finalist for the University of Minnesota’s top job, is widely described as someone who thinks strategically.

In South Carolina, Joan Gabel earns praise as decisive leader

The role will require her to navigate often intense and competing demands of faculty, staff, business leaders, athletic officials and politicians.
Current Minnesota House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman smiled as she watched Gov.-elect Tim Walz and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan as they spoke at a

Minnesota projects $1.5B budget surplus for new governor

The state's economic forecast puts Tim Walz, a Democrat, in a strong position to start working on some of his campaign vows.
Persell

Bemidji Democrat holds on to win state House recount

Persell will be chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee.

State's economic forecast will shape budget plans

The incoming administration of Democratic Gov.-elect Tim Walz and state legislators will learn Thursday whether their spending priorities will get an early boost or if…
Rep. Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park.

Hortman brings consensus-building background to House speaker's job

The stakes could not be higher for Hortman, who will hold a fragile eight-seat majority when legislators convene in January.
From left, new DFL Reps.-elect Samantha Vang of Brooklyn Center, Kaohly Her of St. Paul, Hodan Hassan of Minneapolis and Aisha Gomez of Minneapolis go

New Minnesota legislators get crash course in Capitol, its ways

Incoming legislators get lessons in history, decorum and how to get things done.
Christine Giroux exits the voting booth at Transit Town Hall, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Minnesota voters held the nation’s top spot for voter participa

Minnesota remains top in the nation for voter participation

It's the second straight election that the state has earned the honor.
Governor-elect Tim Walz, left, and Principal Amy Winter, recognized veterans and students at Richfield STEM Elementary Veteran's Day event, Friday, No

Gov.-elect Tim Walz's transition advisory board meets for first time

Group preparing for transition is facing tight deadlines before Jan. 7.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, shown in May, spoke at a news conference in St. Paul. Dayton says he expects to be home before Thanksgiving after complica

Dayton plans to leave Mayo after monthlong hospitalization

Lung damage after surgeries has kept the governor hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester longer than anticipated.
Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan, Gov.-elect Tim Walz, and his wife, Gwen, arrived at the State Capitol.

Two months, 22 commissioners: Countdown for Walz's transition

Walz will be sworn in Jan. 7 in a transition that will be unique in Minnesota's history: Since the formation of the DFL Party in 1944, a DFL candidate has never won an election following another DFL governor.
John Persell and Matt Bliss will have to wait until Nov. 27, when the state Canvassing Board will certify District 5A results.

Recount likely for Bemidji House seat

While candidates for Minnesota's 133 other state House seats have election results, in House District 5A the tension has not let up.
Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan said the creation of the transition advisory board is part of her commitment to bringing a wider range of voices into th

Peggy Flanagan, lieutenant governor to be, takes lead role in Tim Walz transition

Flanagan's first priority is creating a board that will influence hiring and budget development.
Gov. Mark Dayton

Dayton remains in hospital a month after back surgery

The governor said during an interview this week that he was still at Mayo because of "post-surgical complications" that damaged his lungs.
FILE - In this May 10, 2017, file photo, Minnesota Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt fields a question from reporters outside the House chamber in S

Kurt Daudt will continue to lead Minnesota House Republicans

Daudt raises concerns over potential MinnesotaCare expansion and gas tax.
GOP Sen. Paul Gazelka and DFL Rep. Melissa Hortman were selected Senate majority leader and House speaker, respectively, on Thursday.

Hortman, Gazelka chosen new legislative leaders

The new Democratic majority in the House selected Rep. Melissa Hortman as speaker, signaling a dramatic reshuffling of legislative priorities after four years of GOP control.
The Minnesota Capitol

Democrats head for majority in Minnesota House as GOP concedes

Republicans hung on to their majority in the state Senate.
First time candidate Dr. Alice Mann, a Democrat running for Minnesota House, dropped off campaign literature in Burnsville.

Battle for Minnesota House likely decided in Twin Cities suburbs

All 134 Minnesota House districts are up for grabs in the upcoming election, but the communities surrounding the Twin Cities will be vital in determining which party controls the House. It's a crucial fight, with the governor's seat and Senate control also on the ballot.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz (left) and GOP candidate Jeff Johnson

Walz has big cash advantage over Johnson in closing days

Campaign 2018: Business groups focus resources on retaining GOP control of Legislature.
The auditor candidates: DFLer Julie Blaha, left, and Republican Pam Myhra.

Julie Blaha, Pam Myhra have different plans for state auditor's office

Blaha wants state-funded audits; Myhra wants to audit state agencies.
Attorney general candidates: Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (left) and Republican Doug Wardlow

Minnesota AG race between Wardlow, Ellison intensifies

With a week until election, the candidates for Minnesota attorney general have been attacked over character, qualifications.
Republican Jeff Howe (left) and Democrat Joe Perske

Special election for Fischbach seat could tip Senate balance

The candidates are feeling the pressure as outside spending pours in and they devote most of each day to door-knocking, calling voters or speaking at forums.
Republican candidate for Minnesota attorney general Doug Wardlow with his campaign van earlier this month.

Doug Wardlow says he will return Globe University officials' donations

The for-profit college was found to have charged unlawful interest rates and defrauded students.
Attorney general candidates: Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (left) and Republican Doug Wardlow

Keith Ellison says he backs Lori Swanson's insulin lawsuit

Doug Wardlow said he applauds efforts to lower health care costs, but needs to examine case.
Attorney general candidates: Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (left) and Republican Doug Wardlow

Minnesota Poll: Wardlow now leads Ellison for attorney general

Republican gained ground since last month's poll; about one in six Minnesota voters still undecided.
Republican candidate for Attorney General Doug Wardlow.

Faith leaders denounce Wardlow mailers attacking Keith Ellison

GOP attorney general candidate's literature called anti-Islamic.
If elected, Karin Housley plans to oppose Democrats’ push for single-payer health care. She says she wants to bolster protections for senior citizen

In tight race for Senate, Karin Housley sticks to convictions

The race between Karin Housley and Tina Smith could be among a handful that determine whether Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate. Smith has led in fundraising, but Housley's friends and family say her ability to connect with voters and endless energy should not be underestimated.
Rep. Keith Ellison at a press conference in August 2018.

Judge denies Ellison's petition to keep divorce file sealed and redact 'sensitive' information

The file is expected to be made public Wednesday.
Rep. Keith Ellison at a press conference in August 2018.

3rd-party candidate in AG race endorses Ellison for legal marijuana support

A third-party candidate for Minnesota attorney general is endorsing Democrat Keith Ellison in the tight race. Noah Johnson, a Minneapolis attorney who’s running for the…
GOP Candidate for Attorney General Doug Wardlow talked with voters at the Eveleth, Minn., gun show on Oct. 6.

Wardlow says he'd fire Democrats in Minn. AG's office 'right off the bat'

The DFL recorded the candidate's comment at a fundraiser this week.
Minnesota union workers stood with DFL attorney general candidate Keith Ellison at a news conference Thursday.

Union leaders say Keith Ellison will stand up for workers as Minnesota attorney general

They criticized opponent Doug Wardlow for his support of right-to-work.
Doug Wardlow, the Republican candidate for attorney general, says he would leave behind policy advocacy if he gets the job on Nov. 6.

Doug Wardlow says he'll set aside partisan past if elected attorney general

The Republican candidate's staunchly conservative past has some doubting campaign promise.
Rep. Keith Ellison, the Democratic candidate for attorney general. ALEX KORMANN • alex.kormann@startribune.com

Ellison calls for U.S. House to investigate abuse allegation

"I am taking this step now because I am innocent and eager to see this entire matter resolved," Ellison, the Democratic candidate for Minnesota attorney general, said in a statement.
Customers experienced long wait times at the department of vehicle services office in St. Paul in November 2017.

Audit finds state overcharged for some vehicle registrations

The legislative auditor released a report calling the overcharges "significant" and says owners of similar vehicles were charged "different tax amounts."
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the DFL candidate for attorney general in Minnesota, is pictured in this 2018 file photo.

Star Tribune sues to unseal Ellison's divorce records

Ellison, the DFL candidate for Minnesota attorney general who has been accused by ex-girlfriend of abuse, was divorced in 2012.
FILE - in this Oct. 10, 2017, file photo, the U.S. Capitol is seen at sunrise, in Washington. Voter reluctance to pursue impeachment by Congress comes

Half of likely voters in Minnesota oppose impeachment

Reluctance to pursue that dramatic remedy comes from both genders, all income brackets and most age groups and parts of the state.
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