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Torey Van Oot

Politics and Government | Reporter
Phone: 612-673-7299
Location: St. Paul

Torey Van Oot reports on Minnesota politics and government for the Star Tribune.


Van Oot covered state and national politics for more than a decade, contributing to outlets ranging from The Sacramento Bee to InStyle to The Washington Post. When she's not writing and tweeting about politics, Van Oot enjoys running, getting outdoors and checking out Minnesota's many craft breweries. She's told she has terrible taste in TV. Van Oot, who grew up in Vermont, lives in Minneapolis with her husband and a sweet but poorly behaved golden retriever.
Recent content from Torey Van Oot
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Omar shows strong fundraising; raises $830K for re-election campaign

The freshman Democrat's first-quarter fundraising outpaced many fellow members of Minnesota's congressional delegation.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., sits with fellow Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee during a bill markup, on Capitol Hill in Washington, W

Omar reports increased death threats following Trump tweet

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar has seen a spike in death threats since a tweet by President Donald Trump suggesting that she minimized the significance…
Sasha Yunginger, a teacher, says her student loan burden weighs heavily on her future.

Minn. lawmakers push tougher regulations for student loan companies

While the industry opposes state regulations, supporters argue that failing to act will have long-term consequences for the state's economy and workforce.
Dancer Nicholas Westlake

New Minnesota law closes prosecution loophole in LRT crashes

Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill Friday to close a hole in state law that local prosecutors say prevented them from charging a light-rail train…
House Representative Raymond Dehn gave a thumbs-up as hundreds of Minnesotans from the Freedom to Drive coalition filled the Capitol Rotunda as the Mi

Minnesota House passes bill to allow driver's licenses for all

The Minnesota House passed a measure Friday 74-52 that would give all immigrants the ability to get driver's licenses, even if they are in the country illegally.
Christine Giroux exits the voting booth at Transit Town Hall, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Minnesota saw big boost in young voter turnout in 2018

Participation among voters 29 and younger rose across the country.
A crowd of about 100 gathered outside the Minneapolis Urban League to counter criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar on Wednesday.

Rep. Omar backers rally in Minneapolis

Omar was not at the gathering outside the Urban League office, and a spokesman said her office was not affiliated with the event.
A photo from the scene following the fatal light rail crash that killed Nicolas Westlake in July 2017.

Light rail drivers could face reckless driving charges under Minnesota bill

The change was sparked by a 2017 crash in St. Paul that killed a 29-year-old man.
OxyContin pills.

State Senate OKs new fees on drug firms to fight opioid crisis

The bipartisan 59-6 vote came two weeks after the state House passed a similar measure, setting up negotiations to work out differences in the two bills before sending a final compromise to Gov. Tim Walz, who has said he will sign the final proposal into law.
Gov. Tim Walz looked to Department of Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey during a news conference and health care roundtable earlier in March.

Health care battle looms large at Minnesota Capitol

Dueling proposals vie to reshape the market in the state, especially with the rising cost of prescription drugs.

Minnesota legislators getting $1,500 raise

An independent commission voted Friday to increase the annual salary for Minnesota legislators to $46,500, giving lawmakers their second raise in as many years. The…
A 3 percent pay increase for Minnesota legislators is expected to be finalized during a Friday meeting of the Legislative Salary Council, an independe

Minnesota legislators will be getting a $1,500 pay raise

The independent panel that oversees legislator pay also urged lawmakers to reassess their per diem policy and switch to a plan that reimburses only for actual out-of-pocket expenses.
Gov. Tim Walz hopes to make Minnesota one of a handful of states with paid family leave.

Paid family leave in Minnesota is a coming flashpoint at Capitol

State Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, the GOP majority leader, called the cost projection "a real problem." He does not plan to hold hearings or a floor vote on the proposal this session.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., was among lawmakers who lost jobs in relation to sexual harassment allegations, a slew of which prompted policy changes in t

Minnesota Senate adopts new sexual harassment policy

It outlines guidelines for investigating complaints.
Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, called the parental visitation legislation one of her top priorities.

Shared parenting fight returns to Minn. Capitol

Lawmakers look at making baseline 50-50 for visitation.
Rep. Dean Phillips, shown in January during his swearing-in on the U.S. House floor in Washington.

Hot-button issues, local concerns dominate Rep. Dean Phillips' town hall

The new congressman met with about 100 constituents in Maple Grove.

Republican wins east-central Minnesota House district seat

The special election was triggered by former Rep. Jason Rarick's election to the state Senate.
Deaths by suicide and related to alcohol and opioid abuse are continuing to rise in Minnesota.

Minnesota suicides and other 'preventable deaths' reach record levels

Continual uptick is a "worrisome long-term trend," health officials say.
Minnesota students left school and went to the Capitol in St. Paul to be part of an international climate change protest, joining hundreds of thousand

'We need to cause an uproar': Minn. students 'strike' in climate fight

Friday's rally in St. Paul was part of a wave of student demonstrations worldwide.
State Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake

Debate over abortion, birth control heats up at Minnesota Capitol

Dueling proposals to limit abortion, expand birth control could become fodder for 2020 campaigns.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa), center and flanked by fellow Republicans after a legislative meeting in February.

Minn. Senate vote sets up clash over lowering health care costs

Gov. Tim Walz questions whether insurers have done enough to contain costs themselves and cautioned against giving the health plans a blank check.
Flood damage seen on a family farm in Madelia last year.

Minn. officials warn state to prepare for 'flood season'

The National Weather Service is predicting an increased risk of floods due to heavy snowfall.
Rep. Ilhan Omar represents the Fifth District.

Omar's actions fuel fresh doubts, divisions in her district

Disappointment, support follow remarks on Israel.
A patient received a prescription from his doctor as he combats chronic pain.

Chronic pain patients worry about bearing costs of opioid bills

Patients who rely on prescription opioids to manage chronic pain are raising fresh concerns about a proposal aimed at tackling the overdose epidemic.
Motor vehicle supervisor Tereza Bazac helps a customer at the Roseville License Center.

Minnesota legislators approve $13 million for MNLARS fix

The plan authorizes $13 million in state funds for technology improvements, maintenance and customer service support.

Mandatory sex-ed? Minn. lawmakers consider adding requirement

All Minnesota students would learn about pregnancy prevention, gender identity and the need for consent ahead of intimacy under a sex-ed requirement proposed by Democratic…
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Friday, “I know I can push people too hard.”

Klobuchar says she'll 'do better' in treatment of staffers

The Minnesota senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate responds to reports that she is hard on employees.
Republican state Sen. Carla Nelson, of Rochester

'Snow Day Relief Act' would let Minn. schools count snow days as instruction days

Extreme weather led to high number of closures.
A northwestern Minnesota chapter of the state Republican Party drew criticism Tuesday for a Facebook post comparing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders to Adolf

Minnesota GOP group condemned for Facebook post comparing Bernie Sanders to Hitler

Now-deleted Facebook post was condemned as "absurd" and anti-Semitic.
Under the proposal, Minnesota students would need to earn credit for a government and citizenship class in their junior or senior year in order to gra

Minnesota lawmakers want all high schools to offer civics for juniors, seniors

Supporters say Americans' gap in knowledge is putting democracy at risk.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz proposed his state budget Tuesday.

Walz wants $700,000 for new staff to handle Minnesotans' questions and concerns

House Republicans blasted the proposal to create a new outreach office as "surreal."

Field set in special election for open House seat in east-central Minnesota

The general election will be held on March 19.
Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said the move will help “families reach faster diagnoses, advance groundbreaking research and ultimately find cures fo

Minnesota lawmaker proposes Rare Disease Advisory Council

Research effort could be named after Chloe Barnes, Hopkins toddler who died.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke to the overflow crowd at a campaign event at a mall Saturday in Mason City, Iowa.

First Klobuchar campaign trip underscores Iowa's importance

Gatherings like Sunday's will be the focus of Klobuchar's presidential campaign until Iowa picks its presidential nominee Feb. 3. For Klobuchar, who lacks the national name identification and fundraising prowess of some of her competitors for the Democratic nod, a strong showing in the state is crucial.
Joined by her daughter Abigail and husband John, Sen. Amy Klobuchar made her first campaign appearance as a presidential candidate Saturday in Eau Cla

Klobuchar points to importance of Midwest in Wis., Iowa campaign stops

The Minnesota Democrat pledged to work across the aisle and make rural issues a priority as she made the first stops of her 2020 presidential campaign.
Jason Rarick, above at a bingo fundraiser in Sturgeon Lake, cemented a 35-32 edge for Republicans in the state Senate.

With the Senate at full capacity, another special election is triggered

The contest for Jason Rarick's now-vacant former House seat will be held on March 19, with a primary set for March 5.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar waved to supporters on Feb. 10 along with her husband John Bessler and daughter Abigail Klobuchar Bessler after announcing she is r

Klobuchar's presidential bid faces fundraising challenge

Small-dollar donors could be crucial in a crowded 2020 presidential field.
GOP Sen. Julie Rosen, shown in 2013.

Minn. lawmakers seek more notice of prescription drug price hikes

Companies would have to pre-disclose the increases, under a new proposal.
Rep. Ilhan Omar's tweet that said "It's all about the Benjamins" is drawing widespread criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Rep. Omar apologizes for tweet on Israel viewed as anti-Semitic

The freshman representative's statement came shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders called for an apology, saying she used "anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations" about Israel's supporters.
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.
Jason Rarick, Republican candidate for State Senate in the SD11 special election, spoke with Lori Cervenka and her daughters Hannah and Casey, at a bi

GOP's Jason Rarick wins Minnesota Senate seat vacated by Democrat

The win expanded the GOP's narrow majority in the chamber and ended more than two decades of representation in the district by Democrats and members of the Lourey family.
Chris, who declined to give his last name because he was concerned "people might think I'm crazy," gave a thumbs up while jogging around Lake Harriet

New Minnesota tourism slogan encourages visitors to 'Find Your True North'

Gov. Tim Walz said the marketing campaign was especially fitting on the heels of a frigid week in Minnesota: "It's all about attitude."
Stu Lourey, DFL candidate, left, and Jason Rarick, the Republican candidate for State Senate in the SD11 special election.

High stakes define special Minn. Senate election Tuesday

The four-week sprint to fill the open seat, triggered by the appointment of the current senator to human services commissioner, has sent a tsunami of campaign cash and volunteers into the district.
Minnesota state Sen. Chris Eaton, left, and Chazz Smith, right, a cousin of the late rock star Prince, attend a rally at the Minnesota state Capitol i

'We're losing legends': Prince's cousin joins push for Minnesota opioid plan

Legislation would raise $20 million through increased fees on drug companies.
Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, held his black lab Lucy while service dog Daniel from Pawsitivity Service Dogs, checked out the press conference

Minnesota state dog? Group wants Labrador to be official breed

Legislators propose making Labrador retriever the official state dog.
A marijuana plant

Minn. measure would legalize marijuana by '22

Senate GOP leader dismissed bill, saying legalization is not a priority.
U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, a Democrat, held a town hall on Saturday in Burnsville. Here, Craig responded to a question.

Climate change, guns, shutdown top Rep. Angie Craig's first town hall

The doors to freshman Rep. Angie Craig’s first public town hall opened 18 hours after lawmakers voted to temporarily end the longest federal government shutdown…
OxyContin, in 80 mg pills

Minn. proposal to address opioid epidemic gets bipartisan support

A previous proposal stalled following intense lobbying from drug companies.
Stu Lourey and Michelle Lee are facing off in Tuesday's special election to determine the DFL candidate to compete for the seat vacated by Sen. Tony L

Stu Lourey wins DFL primary for Minnesota state Senate seat

Three candidates will compete in a Feb. 5 special election.
Hundreds gathered on the steps of the State Capitol Tuesday for the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) March for Life. The annual march was

Thousands brave cold for Minnesota March for Life rally at Capitol

Abortion opponents plan to back ultrasound legislation again this year.
Former Gov. Mark Dayton was unable to pass family leave benefits in a divided Legislature.

'The time is now': Supporters of paid family leave launch new push in Minnesota

The proposal hasn't gained traction to pass in previous legislative sessions.
Stu Lourey and Michelle Lee are facing off in Tuesday's special election to determine the DFL candidate to compete for the seat vacated by Sen. Tony L

DFL candidates run for state Senate seat in special election

Primary winner will face GOP Rep. Jason Rarick in the Feb. 5 general election.
A young girl stood front and center at the front of the procession from St. Paul College to the State Capitol for the 2017 rally.

Minnesota Women's March keeps eyes on future amid anti-Semitism controversy

Some former supporters will boycott the rally over remarks by national leaders.
Beer was bountiful Wednesday at Fair State Brewing, but its founder said the shutdown is slowing plans for expansion.

Minnesota breweries facing delays because of shutdown

In Minnesota, where the thriving craft beer industry's estimated annual economic impact is roughly $2 billion, the uncertainty has some brewers on edge and making plans in case there's no breakthrough.
The Minnesota Senate opened up after Sen. Tony Lourey, right, joined Gov. Tim Walz's administration as commissioner of the Department of Human Service

Money, ads begin to flow in special election for Minnesota state Senate seat

The seat opened up when Gov. Tim Walz appointed the sitting senator as a commissioner.
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan walked with their team to a public reception in the rotunda at the State Capitol.

Minnesota lawmakers grapple with filling funding gaps during shutdown

Walz to unveil plan today to cover services affected by federal shutdown.
Sally Miller, the new DFL executive director

DFL taps top Tina Smith aide as new executive director

Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has hired a longtime party organizer and top political aide to U.S. Sen. Tina Smith to as its new executive director.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke with Tony Sanneh of the Sanneh Foundation during the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's annual policy kickoff event Wednesday.

More than just Walz's supporters showed up at his inaugural party

The event Saturday drew about 3,000 people to the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Gov. Tim Walz talked with Enbridge Line 3 protesters including Rose Whipple, right, of St. Paul after they interrupted his speech during a public rece

Health, gun violence, education top Minn. House DFL agenda

Some of the most high-profile proposals unveiled today are expected to face difficulty passing the Senate.
Gov.-elect Tim Walz speaks with State Sen. Tony Lourey after he announced Lourey will be commissioner of the Department of Human Services, Thursday, J

Field set for Minnesota's special Senate election to fill Tony Lourey's seat

Seat is expected to be hotly contested by both parties.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, shown in 2016.

Democrats push proposals to increase voter turnout

They include automatic voter registration, expanded access for felons, presidential primary by mail.
Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz, center, leans to get a picture of the wife and children of Steve Grove, left, Walz's new commissioner of economic devel

With latest commissioner picks, Gov.-elect Tim Walz's cabinet is nearly complete

Incoming governor says diverse candidates will find "common ground."

Minnesota campaign board proposal targets 'issue ads' funded by anonymous donors

Supporters of the proposal say it would close an election loophole.
Comcast, which also goes by Xfinity, is the largest TV and internet provider in the United States.

AG lawsuit: Comcast misled customers about prices, fees

Thousands of Minnesotans may have been duped into higher charges, the lawsuit by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson claims.
Gov. Mark Dayton.

Dayton administration approves raising caps on local officials' pay

Under the proposed changes to pay ceilings, 22 positions across Minnesota could see increases.
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