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
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.
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.

June 12: 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.