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

Minnesota 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.

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 •

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.
President Donald Trump responds to a reporters question during an event with sheriffs in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Se

Minnesotans disapprove of President Trump's description of news media

Only Republicans support his view in large numbers.
Karen Monahan, left, and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.

Rep. Keith Ellison's ex-girlfriend posts medical record alleging abuse

She told a doctor in 2017 that they had been in an abusive relationship.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, left, is widely known but a divisive candidate, according to the poll, while Doug Wardlow, right, has a lead among male voter

Minnesota Poll: Ellison has slim lead in attorney general's race

Many voters are undecided, with poll respondents unsure about allegation of domestic abuse.
Task force member Nicole Matthews, center, spoke to state Attorney General Lori Swanson on Tuesday, the first day the group met to discuss improving s

Minn. sexual assault task force vows to scrutinize failings in investigations

Police training and standards are among the issues facing panel, which held its first meeting.
Candidates for Minnesota governor Tim Walz, Democrat, left and Jeff Johnson, Republican during their first debate on Aug. 17.

Walz, Johnson diverge on how to pay for opioid fight

But both promised partnerships with county government leaders.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who's running for state attorney general, spoke outside the DFL booth at the Minnesota State Fair last month.

Keith Ellison faces and navigates controversy, again

DFL candidate for Minnesota attorney general has seen – and survived – his share of political hurdles.

Minnesota House candidate Kyle Greene uses racial slur in ad

Greene, running as an independent, says it's part of his focus on "real issues."
Candidates for governor Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson have their first debate at Grand View Lodge, Nisswa, MN. Tom Hauser of KSTP moderated the debate.

In bid for governor, GOP's Jeff Johnson sticks with Trump

Candidates across the country are carefully weighing the Trump factor on midterm races. Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Johnson praises Trump's policies, but noted that he doesn't always agree with the president.
DFL challenger Dean Phillips and Rep. Erik Paulsen greeted each other at the end of Tuesday's Third Congressional District debate in St. Louis Park.

Paulsen, Phillips face off on taxes, health care in 3rd Congressional District debate

The debate at a St. Louis Park hotel quickly grew testy, with both candidates attacking the other almost immediately.
Rep. Keith Ellison spoke Friday about the domestic abuse allegations that were brought against him.

Republican super PAC releases attack ad targeting Democrats, Keith Ellison

A conservative fundraising group has released television ads attacking four Minnesota Democrats running for Congress, saying they "should be ashamed" of standing by U.S. Rep.…
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison high fives one of his campaign volunteers at a door-knocking event in north Minneapolis.

Keith Ellison seeks to reassure voters after domestic abuse allegation

He reiterated his denial of a domestic abuse allegation and said he will not drop out of the Minnesota attorney general race.
Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson got down to business on Wednesday, a day after their primary victories. Their bases of strength are among the main takeways

5 takeaways from 2018 Minnesota primary precinct-by-precinct race maps

In the governor's race, DFLer Tim Walz dominated the southern half of the state and Jeff Johnson of the GOP did well in exurban areas.
DFL Gubernatorial Candidate Tim Walz and his running mate Peggy Flanagan attended a DFL Unity press conference with Governor Mark Dayton and State Rep

Ellison faces mounting pressure over domestic violence claim

National Organization for Women calls for him to drop out of race for the Minnesota attorney general's race, while top DFL leaders say they still back him.
New MNIT Commissioner Johanna Clyborne, center, said in a statement that the agency takes the report seriously and will use it to continue improving t

Audit finds Minnesota IT agency improperly managed funding account

MNIT's internal controls over the account were inadequate, the audit says.
Rep. Keith Ellison spoke to the crowd at Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis after winning the DFL nomination for Minnesota attorney general on Tuesday.

Keith Ellison wins DFL primary for Minnesota attorney general

On the Republican side, endorsed attorney Doug Wardlow won to head to the November general election.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison

Ellison's ex-girlfriend won't release alleged video of physical altercation

Ex-girlfriend says it's too painful. His campaign denies that it even exists.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison

U.S. Rep. Ellison denies allegation of domestic violence

The alleged incident between Keith Ellison and Karen Monahan came to light Saturday night after her son posted about it on Facebook. Ellison responded Sunday in a statement.
Tuesday is primary day in Minnesota.

Minnesota House primary elections 'critical' for DFLers, GOP

For both parties, having strong candidates advance to the November general election is important. Republicans have the majority in both the state House and Senate and are determined to retain control of the Legislature — particularly with an unpredictable governor's race. DFLers, however, say they see a path to flip 11 seats and take over the House.
The five main Minnesota gubernatorial candidates, shown at FarmFest on Wednesday: From left: DFLer Tim Walz, Republican Tim Pawlenty, DFLer Lori Swans

Candidates for Minn. governor divided by visions for education

Republicans emphasized school choice. DFLers say funding must match inflation.
This Nov. 4, 2008, photo provided by MinnPost shows young voters waiting to cast ballots at a polling place in Minneapolis. If millennials, currently

Ad wars heat up ahead of Minn. gubernatorial primary

Facing elimination in the Aug. 14 primary, the five major gubernatorial candidates have all aired TV ads this summer. Here's a look at their pitches.
Republican candidate U.S. House candidate Pete Stauber spoke in Duluth in June.

Vice President Mike Pence to campaign for Pete Stauber in Duluth

President Donald Trump has already visited Duluth to back Stauber.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz

Pawlenty, Walz hold fundraising leads over their rivals

Tim Pawlenty in the GOP gubernatorial contest and Tim Walz in the DFL contest have amassed the most money in their respective races. But in the DFL race, Lori Swanson is closing in on Walz.
DFL candidate for governor Erin Murphy.

Murphy says if elected governor, she will follow Dayton's education approach

DFL candidate in upcoming primary said state needs to invest in diverse teachers, college readiness to address disparities.

Johnson says work requirements, school choice provide path out of poverty

GOP governor candidate advocates school choice, more direct parental role.
With Lori Swanson running for governor, those running to replace her as attorney general are hotly debating the office's role.

Attorney general candidates divided on office's role in national debates

Candidates differ on whether to focus on local or national issues, but most see high-profile role for office.
From left: Jeff Johnson of the GOP; Erin Murphy and Tim Walz of the DFL. The three addressed the idea of a rural-urban divide — and what unites the

Candidates in governor's race discuss greater Minnesota issues in Mankato

Three of 5 major candidates discussed issues of concern in greater Minnesota.
Gov. Mark Dayton, shown in May, said the state “made a complete financial turnaround” in 7½ years.

Bond rating agencies give Minnesota top marks

AAA rating means better interest rate, taxpayer savings.
State Rep. Ilhan Omar filed to run for the cCongressional seat Keith Ellison is leaving.

Fellow legislator accuses Ilhan Omar of using campaign funds for divorce lawyer

Omar and her divorce attorney say allegation of misuse of funds is false.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson

Swanson joins other states in support of DACA

Seven states with GOP attorneys general are suing to end program.
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