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Maya Rao

Reporter | Regional
phone: 651-925-5043
Maya Rao covers regional issues in and around the state of Minnesota. She wrote for The Press of Atlantic City and The Philadelphia Inquirer before moving to Minnesota in January 2012.
Recent content from Maya Rao

The pre-midnight special: Bill runner a key player in last-minute frenzy

The man hand-delivering legislation from chamber to chamber had to race across street due to construction.
Tin Cup caucus convenes at St. Paul watering hole

Tin Cup caucus convenes at St. Paul watering hole

“I dare you to go talk to that dude in the hat,” the school bus lobbyist is telling me. We are sitting at Tin Cup’s…
In first crack in stalemate, Minn. legislators agree on $259M tax bill

In first crack in stalemate, Minn. legislators agree on $259M tax bill

Outstate Minnesota wins big in tax bill; St. Paul soccer stadium included.
Feb. 1: Minnesota leaders' full-page ad decries bigotry toward Muslims

Feb. 1: Minnesota leaders' full-page ad decries bigotry toward Muslims

From across a broad spectrum, hate messages declared "un-Minnesotan."

GOP's $800 million public-works bill fails to pass

Legislative leaders are still negotiating over final budget priorities.
Law enforcement is flexing its muscle at Minnesota Capitol

Law enforcement is flexing its muscle at Minnesota Capitol

Police groups' influence over legislative process on display with key bills.

Homeland Security holds firm: No Real ID, no access to military bases, federal buildings

The Department of Homeland Security has told Gov. Mark Dayton that it would not allow Minnesotans to use their driver's licenses to access federal buildings…
Sunday liquor store sales remain illegal after loss at Legislature

Sunday liquor store sales remain illegal after loss at Legislature

For lawmakers, it was a frenzied day on smaller issues, but no progress on the big ones.
Outstate cities press for legislative action in Minnesota

Outstate cities press for legislative action in Minnesota

Armed with ice cream, city officials from around the state lobby for more spending in rural areas.
Body-cam bill with restrictions on public access advances in Minnesota House

Body-cam bill with restrictions on public access advances in Minnesota House

Over the protests of its chairwoman, the House data practices committee approved legislation that would give law enforcement more control over recordings they make during interactions with citizens.
Legislators struggle to strike balance with body cameras

Legislators struggle to strike balance with body cameras

State lawmakers are struggling to balance privacy rights, transparency, policing needs.
Dayton and DFLers press GOP for details of bonding proposal

Dayton and DFLers press GOP for details of bonding proposal

House Republicans have offered to spend $600M on statewide projects.
Minnesota Poll: Most favor Supreme Court nominee, Senate vote

Minnesota Poll: Most favor Supreme Court nominee, Senate vote

A strong majority of Minnesotans say the U.S. Senate should immediately hold confirmation hearings and vote on Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination.
State's cosmetologists brace for regulatory overhaul

State's cosmetologists brace for regulatory overhaul

Clearer rules and a focus on cleanliness should help streamline the process.
Minneapolis Council Member Warsame backs Mohamud Noor in race vs. Rep. Kahn

Minneapolis Council Member Warsame backs Mohamud Noor in race vs. Rep. Kahn

Minneapolis official supported longtime legislator 2 years ago.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appoints state rail director

The newly created position comes amid growing concern about oil train safety
State considers expanding list of jobs that will require license

State considers expanding list of jobs that will require license

These proposals are unfolding amid a national debate about the increasing appearance of licensure requirements in jobs that once required none.
Minnesota edging closer to Real ID compliance

Minnesota edging closer to Real ID compliance

State leaders are looking to approve changes to comply with federal law this session.
Rep. Phyllis Kahn fights to stay relevant as DFL pushes for new blood

Rep. Phyllis Kahn fights to stay relevant as DFL pushes for new blood

Longtime state Rep. Phyllis Kahn has been one of the most reliably liberal voices at the State Capitol, blazing the way on everything from anti-smoking…
Rybak, Dibble endorse Ilhan Omar over Rep. Kahn in DFL battle

Rybak, Dibble endorse Ilhan Omar over Rep. Kahn in DFL battle

Omar is trying to defeat Rep. Phyllis Kahn, the Legislature's longest-serving member
Rep. Kahn, rivals head to primary without DFL endorsement

Rep. Kahn, rivals head to primary without DFL endorsement

Ilhan Omar came within a few votes of securing the party's endorsement, but the day ended without a nod to anyone.
Minn. legislators want railroads to open books on emergency response

Minn. legislators want railroads to open books on emergency response

Local officials want to be better prepared for oil train derailments

Minnesota cities rush to restrict where sex offenders live

The issue is politically perilous for leaders of both parties, who must weigh the constitutional questions vs. the political blowback from releasing potentially dangerous offenders into the community.

For Minnesota, presidential primaries in sight

Minnesota legislators are edging closer to switching the state to a presidential primary for the 2020 election, a rare flash of bipartisan accord during a…

Minnesotans with student loan debt speak out to legislators

Legislators heard testimony Wednesday from people saddled with college debt as they considered several proposals to ease the burden for many of the 882,000 current or former student borrowers in the state.

Minnesota moves closer to planning Real ID

The Minnesota House passed a bill Tuesday evening to repeal a ban on Minnesota officials researching steps toward complying with a federal law to upgrade…

DFL legislators want pension fund investments in fossil fuel firms to end

DFL legislators want state pension fund managers to dump fossil fuel stocks.
Minnesota GOP leader breaks with Trump, Cruz on Muslims

Minnesota GOP leader breaks with Trump, Cruz on Muslims

Minnesota GOP Chairman Keith Downey is breaking from leading Republican presidential candidates after controversial remarks about Muslims by Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.…
DFL takes battle over paid family leave to Capitol

DFL takes battle over paid family leave to Capitol

Minnesota DFLers are intensifying efforts to adopt one of the most sweeping paid family leave policies in the country, an effort gaining wide support from labor unions and low-income groups.
Dayton signs Iron Range jobless benefits extension after House OK

Dayton signs Iron Range jobless benefits extension after House OK

After frantic and uncertain day, House has agreed to pass measure to extend benefits for 26 weeks.
Dayton wants $4M set aside for PolyMet legal costs

Dayton wants $4M set aside for PolyMet legal costs

Minnesota is now spending $60,000 a month on a Washington, D.C., firm hired to protect the state against future lawsuits related to PolyMet Mining Corp.

Minnesota unemployment fund reaches solvency as politicians weigh refunds

The Minnesota House passed a measure Thursday to extend benefits for laid-off steel workers on the Iron Range but also return millions of dollars in unemployment insurance to employers.
Doctor-assisted suicide proposal tabled after emotional hearing

Doctor-assisted suicide proposal tabled after emotional hearing

Sen. Chris Eaton abruptly withdrew the measure in a hearing that drew hundreds of people and hours of wrenching testimony.
DFL, GOP still split on Iron Range benefits

DFL, GOP still split on Iron Range benefits

Republicans push for business tax cuts as part of the relief legislation.
Why Donald Trump? A look at some of his Minnesota supporters

Why Donald Trump? A look at some of his Minnesota supporters

His own party fears and distrusts him. His critics call him a phony or a fascist. His backers see him as the sole choice.

Minnesota pensions struggle to divest from Iran

State law says they must divest from firms doing business there — as more aim to do.
Tensions erupt over jobless benefits, setting tone at Capitol

Tensions erupt over jobless benefits, setting tone at Capitol

As the session opens next week, fur is already flying over help for Iron Range.
Caucus lines, waits bring calls for Minnesota to move to primary

Caucus lines, waits bring calls for Minnesota to move to primary

Gov. Dayton is the latest official urging the change, which would allow for all-day voting.
Minnesota has $900M budget surplus; lower than expected

Minnesota has $900M budget surplus; lower than expected

Officials had been counting on a projected surplus of $1.2 billion for the upcoming legislative session, which begins next month.
Dayton and legislative leaders predict tough session

Dayton and legislative leaders predict tough session

Big disagreements loom on both education and transportation issues.
High stakes fuel flames in races to succeed GOP Rep. Kline

High stakes fuel flames in races to succeed GOP Rep. Kline

The contest to replace retiring U.S. Rep. John Kline is intensifying as Republican candidates struggle to break out from the crowded field.
Democrats' battle for black voters hits Minnesota

Democrats' battle for black voters hits Minnesota

The state's relatively small black population is not likely to swing the vote in the upcoming caucuses between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but the fight reflects a larger, national battle for black voters.
Biden: St. Paul's Union Depot highlights stimulus' success

Biden: St. Paul's Union Depot highlights stimulus' success

Vice President Joe Biden came to St. Paul on Thursday to praise the Union Depot, the multimillion dollar renovation aided by federal stimulus money, as part of a two-day, three-city tour to highlight the importance of the federal stimulus program.

Minn. legislators use campaign cash for child care, pet urns and travel

Legislators use campaign funds for golf, luggage, Vegas hotels, and it's OK.

Dayton urges 6 weeks of paid parental leave for state workers

Program for state workers is "just crucial," he says.

High life expectancy strains Minnesota pension systems

Our 2nd-highest U.S. life expectancy throws a wrench in retirement funds' projections.
Chelsea Clinton rallies the faithful in Twin Cities

Chelsea Clinton rallies the faithful in Twin Cities

Clinton says her mother will fight for expanded health care, paid leave.

House GOP and DFL both raise more than $1 million

Republicans and DFLers each raised over $1M last year in fight for the state House.
St. Cloud comes to grips with clashes between immigrants, longtimers

St. Cloud comes to grips with clashes between immigrants, longtimers

Amid racial tension, Dayton looks to bolster local human rights office
'Making a Murderer' defense attorney makes case at Minnesota Capitol

'Making a Murderer' defense attorney makes case at Minnesota Capitol

Dean Strang makes his case for better public defense.
Bernie Sanders brings fiery populist message to St. Paul

Bernie Sanders brings fiery populist message to St. Paul

Hours after speaking to 6,000 people in Duluth, Sanders addressed more than 14,000 at RiverCentre, aiming for momentum before the Iowa caucuses on Monday.
Rep. Joe Atkins won't run for re-election

Rep. Joe Atkins won't run for re-election

He says he'll run instead for Dakota County Board.
Dayton selects first openly gay judge for state Supreme Court

Dayton selects first openly gay judge for state Supreme Court

Minnesota Appeals Court Judge Margaret Chutich was the pick for the state's highest court.

Capitol parking ramp at risk of 'catastrophic failure,' state says

Dayton seeks to head off any risk of "catastrophic failure."
Dec. 21, 2014: Minnesota's oldest resident dies at 114

Dec. 21, 2014: Minnesota's oldest resident dies at 114

Minnesota's oldest resident was an enthusiastic user of technology right up until she died in her sleep Sunday at age 114.
Part 4: Minneapolis teen struggles to avoid line of fire

Part 4: Minneapolis teen struggles to avoid line of fire

Part 4: One family shows how the threat of illegal firearms hangs over life on North Side.
Part 3: Illegal gun market thrives in Minn.; penalties light

Part 3: Illegal gun market thrives in Minn.; penalties light

Federal law enforcement officials say their limited presence in the state and significant constraints in federal law present serious obstacles to cracking down on illegal gun trafficking.
Part 2: One stolen gun blazes violent path

Part 2: One stolen gun blazes violent path

Thousands of illegal guns flood city streets, moving easily from hand to hand.
March 17: A gun at 14, then a senseless killing

March 17: A gun at 14, then a senseless killing

Two young lives are swept away in Minneapolis by a relentless flow of illegal firearms.

Feb. 24: American Indians' autopsy protests lead to a teachable moment

After scrambling to head off two autopsies, tribal advocates urge public officials to honor Indian religious traditions.
After restraining order, Clarkfield, Minn., is a town without a mayor

After restraining order, Clarkfield, Minn., is a town without a mayor

A restraining order is keeping Albert Gates away from city meetings until June.

Rural schools struggle to pay for transportation

Transportation funding falls short at many vast outstate school districts.
South Dakota sends speed limits shooting up to 80 mph

South Dakota sends speed limits shooting up to 80 mph

It's the latest state to kick up the speed on interstates. But safety experts warn that increased speed brings increased crashes and fatalities.
Somalis upset as racial unrest builds at St. Cloud Tech High

Somalis upset as racial unrest builds at St. Cloud Tech High

Somali students upset by being spit on while praying and other bullying.
Somali students protest in St. Cloud

Somali students protest in St. Cloud

100 students leave Tech High School over alleged racism on social media.
Alarm grows over explosion of meth in western Wisconsin

Alarm grows over explosion of meth in western Wisconsin

Cheap and easy to get, it has made a big comeback in western Wisconsin.
Controversy over fired assistant principal roils Hibbing school district

Controversy over fired assistant principal roils Hibbing school district

Jac Fleming was forced to resign in August, after a yearlong state investigation found probable cause that he had discriminated against female students. But an arbitrator Services later ruled that Fleming be reinstated.
East Grand Forks grapples with a $510,000 mistake with loan

East Grand Forks grapples with a $510,000 mistake with loan

City Council takes no action against firm of mayor's brother.
Grand Marais farmer faces off with state over raw milk

Grand Marais farmer faces off with state over raw milk

David Berglund argues that state Agriculture Department regulators are intruding on his constitutional rights.
Minnesota college tragedies: Drunk, frozen and underage

Minnesota college tragedies: Drunk, frozen and underage

Accidents involving drunk students freezing to death have shaken campuses in Minneapolis, Duluth, La Crosse and beyond, but particularly here, at this 5,000-student campus along the shores of Lake Bemidji.
Jan. 21: Nelson pleads guilty to lesser charge; maximum of 90 days

Jan. 21: Nelson pleads guilty to lesser charge; maximum of 90 days

Philip Nelson was facing up to 20 years in prison and a ruined athletic career after he took part in a drunken fight that nearly killed another man. On Wednesday, he got his future back.

A closely watched fight brewing over nitrates in Iowa water

Iowa water utility threatens to sue three counties over fertilizer runoff.
Twin Cities hospitals are front line in treating Bakken burn victims

Twin Cities hospitals are front line in treating Bakken burn victims

Burn injuries among North Dakota workers have surged to more than 3,100 over the past five years. The Twin Cities have the closest burn centers.

Another defamation suit in Cold Spring murder case

Ryan Larson sues a Sauk Rapids officer who posted on Facebook that he was likely involved in Thomas Decker's death.
Despite technology advances, space heaters still spark fires

Despite technology advances, space heaters still spark fires

Despite better technology, units can still spark tragedy if not operated properly.
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