Staff Directory 6370434

Briana Bierschbach

Reporter | Politics and Government

Briana Bierschbach is a politics and government reporter for the Star Tribune.


Bierschbach has spent the last decade covering Minnesota politics for various publications, including MPR News and MinnPost. She started her journalism career in college at the University of Minnesota's campus newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, where she covered city hall. Bierschbach also has worked at the Pioneer Press, the Associated Press and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. In her spare time, she teaches a class on state government at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and spends time with her husband, dog and two cats.
Recent content from Briana Bierschbach
A firework exploded next to an officer’s head as he aimed a crowd-control weapon from the top of an armored Hennepin County Sheriff’s vehicle duri

Tensions build between Walz, progressives over police protests

Some Democrats have been vocal in opposing projectiles and tear gas deployed against protesters.
Gov. Tim Walz has used emergency powers to mandate statewide mask use and limit capacity in restaurants and bars. RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER • STAR TRIBU

Minnesota officials extend peacetime emergency for 30 days

Top Democrats say the powers are needed as the state distributes doses of the vaccine.
Gov. Tim Walz plans to extend his emergency powers another 30 days.

Walz looks to extend powers, but no new restrictions seen

Walz plans to extend emergency powers for another 30 days on Wednesday, citing the need for continued vigilance.
From left, Sen. Julia Coleman, Rep. Marion O’Neill, Rep. Hodan Hassan, Rep. Kelly Moller, Sen. Lindsey Port at the suffrage memorial.

Historic class of women shaping Minnesota policy, budgets

More women are in the Legislature than ever before, and changing it: They're using strength in numbers to push issues that sat stagnant for years in the male-dominated Capitol.
Minnesota State Capitol. With just days before the end of session, lawmakers were locked in budget negotiations and unable to move ahead with major le

Where big issues stand at the Minnesota Legislature

The divided Legislature has just a few weeks to pass a two-year state budget and try to strike a deal on other key policy issues.
Rep. Kelly Moller, DFL-Shoreview, is sponsoring a bill to address gaps in the state’s criminal sexual conduct laws. LEILA NAVIDI • STAR TRIBUNE

Minn. Senate considering bill to redefine 'mentally incapacitated' for rape victims

A proposal moving in the House would broadly overhaul the state's criminal sexual conduct laws.
Many casinos around Minnesota have closed including Duluth’s Fond-Du-Luth Casino on Superior Street. ALEX KORMANN • STAR TRIBUNE

$31B investment is a lifeline for tribes devastated by COVID

Millions of dollars will flow directly to Minnesota's 11 tribal nations to offset lost revenue when they closed their enterprises during the pandemic, and to boost vaccination efforts and increase testing.
A road construction project along Interstate 94 in Minneapolis. Richard Tsong-Taatarii¥Richard.Tsong-Taatarii@startribune.com

'So far behind': Minnesotans eye federal infrastructure bill for languishing projects

Details are scant so far on how much the state could get if the $2.3 trillion package passes Congress.
More than 100 people gathered in front of the Minnesota Capitol on Monday, March 29, 2021 to call on legislators to pass stronger sexual assault laws.

Pressure growing on Minnesota lawmakers to adopt stronger sexual assault laws

A recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision renewed calls for legislative action.
Gov. Tim Walz delivered his third State of the State address Sunday from his old classroom at Mankato West High School.

Walz says 'normalcy is on the horizon' in annual address

The first-term governor warned Minnesotans to get vaccinated and stay vigilant as cases start to rise again, spurred in part by more infectious variants of the virus
Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, used a pro-police thin blue line flag for his Zoom background during a public House committee hearing on a police acc

Minnesota police reform debate plays out in legislators' Zoom backgrounds

House Public Safety Committee approved police accountability bill.
Much like mask-wearing became a symbol of partisan divide early in the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a stark difference now between Republican and Demo

In Minnesota, partisan divide over disclosing COVID vaccination

Survey of elected officials found only a handful of Republicans responded to questions about vaccination status.
Rioters clash with police during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire/TNS)

First Minnesotan charged in connection to U.S. Capitol breach

Moorhead man allegedly boasted that he went to "strike fear" into Congress.
On March 10, 2021 in Golden Valley, Governor Tim Walz was present when Minnesota, state health commissioner Jan Malcom got the Johnson and Johnson Cov

Walz scales back tax increases, boosts tax relief in revised budget

The governor revised his plan after the February economic forecast projected a $1.6 billion surplus. He cut back nearly $1 billion in tax increases he'd previously proposed for cigarettes, large estates and corporations.
Patty Wetterling is putting her name behind a push for the Minnesota Legislature to create a working group that would dramatically reform the Predator

Decades after Wetterling abduction, new push to take juveniles off predatory list

Minnesota's Predatory Offender Registry now has more than 18,000 names on it.
Gov. Tim Walz (left) was joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Betty McCollum, Sen. Tina Smith,  and Rep. Angie Craig at the Mall of America community va

Minnesota Democrats tout $1.9 trillion stimulus package

Minnesota will get money for vaccine distribution, stimulus checks and more.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz spoke to Minnesotans Nov. 18 from the governor’s reception room at the State Capitol.

What you need to know about Minnesota's COVID-19 restrictions

The latest updates on Gov. Tim Walz's coronavirus restrictions, from mask mandates to caps on gatherings.
Gov. Tim Walz was present when Minnesota health commissioner Jan Malcom got the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation

Walz will roll back COVID-19 restrictions

The changes come as the state hits new vaccination milestones. The governor said he plans to deliver the news in a live address at 11 a.m.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk entered the House Chamber together in 2018. GLEN STUBBE • STAR TRIBUNE

Minnesota Senate passes tax relief on pandemic aid for some businesses, workers

Some Democrats argue the proposal doesn't go far enough to help workers.
Scott Jensen was the Senate sponsor of an insulin affordability bill.

Physician, former GOP senator jumps into Minnesota governor race

Scott Jensen served one term in the Minnesota Senate and has been a frequent critic of the state's response to COVID-19.
Duluth, Minnesota’s 11th precinct co-head polling judges Kathie Trotta, left, and John Keenan place ballots into secure bags to be sealed and droppe

Voting rights clash brewing at Minnesota Capitol

Nationwide push based on false claims that 2020 election results tainted.
Workers harvest cannabis flowers/buds in 2019 at LeafLine Labs in Cottage Grove, MN. DAVID JOLES • STAR TRIBUNE

Support grows for raw cannabis, smoking in state pot program

Bills moving through the Minnesota Legislature would allow patients 21 and older to purchase the raw, plant form of cannabis and smoke it.
Houston residents unaccustomed to extreme cold lined up to fill propane tanks to restore heat in their homes last week. Price-gouging allegations are

Minnesota legislation aims to stop price gougers during a crisis

When devastating winter storms hit Texas this month, the price gougers moved in.Hundreds of thousands of people were without power, heat or water, so the…
Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter spoke at Friday’s update in St. Paul on the state budget forecast.

Minnesota's projected budget shortfall flips to $1.6B surplus

News sets the stage for months of budget negotiations at the State Capitol and adds fuel to a political fight over taxes.
This file photo shows Apple’s App Store app. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Minnesota bill targets Apple and Google's smartphone app fees

The legislation is part of a new push in state legislatures to chip away at the power of Big Tech.
Chris Montana, owner of Du Nord Craft Spirits: “The slow process that rebuilt Lake Street over 30 years from when I was introduced to it in the ‘9

Twin Cities businesses damaged in riots seek state help

Lawmakers couldn't agree on an aid package last year. Now, a House bill is proposing to borrow $300 million for rebuilding aid.
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler introduced a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in Minnesota, along with Rep. Jessica Hanson, Sen. Melisa Lopez Fr

'It's coming': Minnesota recreational marijuana bill passes first-ever legislative committee

Democrats are showing stronger support for the bill than in past sessions, but it still faces a hurdle in the GOP-led Senate.
Portrait of Magdalene Menyongar at home holding a photo of her mom Youbsrboh Menyongar and her twin brother David S Menyongar February 15, 2021 in Map

'Waiting for almost 30 years': Minnesota Liberians seeking residency are in limbo

The Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act has been hampered by a slow launch and burdensome procedures.
Walz  Gov. Tim Walz debuted his state budget plan for the next two years during a press conference Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 at the Department of Revenue

Tax increase on Minnesota's highest earners renews fair share debate

Business groups are pushing back.
Denise Specht, center, president of Education Minnesota, spoke during the news conference, joined by Randi Weingarten, left, president of American Fed

Judge rules in favor of Minnesota unions in dues collection case

The ruling means nonunion members can't retroactively collect dues that were invalidated by a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court case.
The overflow room for the Public Safety conference committee held mostly members of Moms Demand Action members. On the screen is Sen. Ron Latz, D-St.

Buffalo clinic shooting renews gun control push at Minnesota Capitol

Gun measures have not been a focus during a COVID-dominated legislative session.
“I’m hoping that more victims will feel comfortable coming forward,” Sara Kostek, left, said of the bill. She’s seen with Bonnie Daniels at th

Survivors, National Guard officials back bill to shift sex assault investigations to BCA

Legislation would create clearer path for cases involving Guard members.
Collin Peterson tickled his granddaughter Astrid while her twin sister Ingrid got her hair brushed by her mom Michelle Thursday morning. ] ANTHONY SOU

A 'giant' in DFL politics, Collin Peterson reflects on 3 decades in Congress

He was a Blue Dog Coalition founding member, but work on agriculture will be his legacy.
Rep. Dean Phillips spoke Thursday evening on the floor of the House.

Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips' video goes viral after apology to colleagues of color

The remarks came during a special hour organized to hear members' experiences during the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-Shoreview) listens during the meeting. ] LEILA NAVIDI ¥ leila.navidi@startribune.com BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Joint House S

New report urges Minn. lawmakers to adopt stronger sex assault laws

A yearlong working group found gaps in state law that make it harder to protect victims in certain cases.
Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler spoke with members of the states emergency response community including firefighters, police officers, nu

Minnesota Democrats outspent GOP in battle for legislative control

Despite being outspent, Republicans held on to control of the Senate and made gains in the House.
Minnesota GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan, left, at a primary watch party in August, is challenged by state Sen. Mark Koran for the party leadership

Future of Minnesota Republicans starts with race for party chair

In the midst of an identity crisis for Minnesota Republicans, two candidates running to lead the party say they want to get back to the…
Gov. Tim Walz complained that he had to fight for five minutes to present his last budget to the Republican State Senate.  Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gover

Walz budget raises taxes on wealthiest Minnesotans

His $52.4 billion plan would provide a tax credit for an estimated 300,000 working families and would cut taxes for about 1 million households across the state.
“quoteAtiorepr eiusdae sserchi cideleseque plaboreius sundit ea nimolum.” Maria Elizondo attribution here (second from left) and her family.

Minnesota officials grant state's first full pardon in more than 35 years

Maria Elizondo, a mother of seven and grandmother of 14, received a pardon for two past convictions.
Author of the higher education bill Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, smiled as Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe praised his bill and his role as chair

Republicans shift to limit, not undo, governor's emergency powers

Gov. Walz wants lawmakers to enact some of his orders to end the emergency, the longest since WWII.
Deb Pleasants, Linda Ehlers and Carl Michaud waved their flags and danced at an inaugural  celebration street party Wednesday in St. Paul.

Minnesota Democrats, stuck at home, celebrate Biden's inauguration

From block parties to Biden sweatshirts to ice cream, Minnesota Democrats celebrate Inauguration Day.
From left, Gustavus Adolphus Prof. Yurie Hong, Mankato asset manager Scott Weilage and Mankato bookstore owner Mark Hustad.

Southern Minn. swing district has trepidation about future

In a place that flipped from Obama to Trump to Biden, people are uneasy about what's next.
Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said it was a “huge honor” to preside over the impeachment debate Wednesday.

McCollum says it was 'huge honor' to preside over impeachment debate

Emotions were running high on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday as members debated impeaching Donald Trump for a second time,…
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz visited the State History Center on Tuesday to call for reflection, civility, and peace.

Violent threats against Minn. leaders on rise

It's a trend that started long before last week's storming of the U.S. Capitol cheered on by a crowd in St. Paul.
Mark Berman walked back to his North Loop home with a pizza and salad from Black Sheep in May. “I would not go to any place that offers in house din

Bars, restaurants and other venues reopen today in Minnesota with restrictions

Starting Monday, bars and restaurants can reopen for in-person dining at 50% capacity with a 10 p.m. curfew. Movie theaters, bowling alleys and museums can reopen at 25%.
“This isn’t the country that they love. This isn’t patriotism — this is the opposite.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar: Nation is at a 'major tipping point' after Capitol breach

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she is seeing fresh signs that the violent insurrection in Washington last week was a "tipping point" in a nation…
This was the scene on Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol, with supporters of President Donald Trump outside the Senate.

Republicans' law-and-order message tarnished by U.S. Capitol breach

In the aftermath of Wednesday's insurrection at the Capitol, Republicans may have relinquished their grasp on one of the most potent campaign messages in the…
U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach and fellow GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn sided with Republicans who voted to block certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s

Minnesota Republicans torn over what's next after Electoral College challenge

The vote came hours after rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach campaigning in Olivia last October. Fischbach and fellow GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn sided with Republicans who voted to block

Minnesota's Republicans in Congress split on challenge

The vote came hours after rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach campaigning in Olivia last October. Fischbach and fellow GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn sided with Republicans who voted to block

Minnesota's GOP congressional delegation divided on Electoral College challenge

The vote came hours after rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm Presiden

Members of Minnesota delegation urge peace amid U.S. Capitol chaos

Several lawmakers tweeted Wednesday saying they are safe.
In an almost empty House Chamber, most legislators were sworn in remotely in groups of nine at a time, via Zoom at the Minnesota State Capitol. A few

Pandemic front and center, Minnesota Legislature convenes 2021 session

Lawmakers aim to set the budget, respond to COVID, tackle education gaps and redistricting this year.
Gov. Tim Walz’s chief of staff, Chris Schmitter.

Chris Schmitter is Walz's 'chief problem solver' in era of big problems

Rochester native takes low-profile approach to high-profile job.
Rep. Barb Haley, R-Red Wing, is stepping into a new leadership role in January as the House Republican caucus whip.

Rep. Barb Haley brings a 'management face' to GOP's COVID-19 response

Two-term Red Wing Republican emerging as face of House GOP effort to end COVID emergency powers.
Census worker Daniel Crawford gathered information from a person in the Cedar-Riverside area of Minneapolis in September.

Minnesota on edge of losing seat after 'chaotic' census count

The state is just 25,554 people short of holding on to all eight congressional seats, according to recent population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Redistricting experts say the fraught population count is ripe for legal challenges.
Then-U.S. House candidate Michelle Fischbach spoke before President Trump took the stage at a Bemidji rally in September.

More women will serve at the Minnesota Legislature than ever in 2021

When Minnesota legislators are sworn in on Jan. 5, 72 women will be among their ranks — the highest number in state history.It's a major…
Sen. Jerry Relph, R-St. Cloud, in 2019.

Sen. Jerry Relph is first Minnesota lawmaker to die of COVID-19

The first-term GOP senator from St. Cloud received the diagnosis in mid-November after coming in contact with someone in the state Senate chamber who had tested positive.
Rep. Dean Phillips

For Phillips, COVID-19 relief talks in Washington have been a balancing act

The freshman Democrat has said he'll withhold his support for Pelosi without a relief package deal.
Gov. Tim Walz talked with Nook co-owner Mike Runyon in St. Paul before announcing his coronavirus relief proposals on Nov. 24. Under a deal reached Mo

State will speed COVID relief, but restaurants must wait to reopen

A spokesman for Gov. Tim Walz said late Tuesday that bars and restaurants will remain closed for indoor service through the holidays. Walz is expected to sign the state COVID-19 relief package into law this week.
in this Sept. 24, 2019, photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.

In second term, Omar focuses on pushing Biden on progressive agenda

President-elect Joe Biden was not U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's first choice to lead her party, but she has a few requests for him now that…
U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber in a September file photo.      ] GLEN STUBBE • glen.stubbe@startribune.com

Millions in federal relief goes to Minnesota companies with ties to lawmakers

Lawmaker-linked Minnesota companies got nearly $18M in federal aid this year.
This file photo shows the Minnesota House chambers. Gov. Tim Walz is calling lawmakers back for another special session next week.

Gov. Tim Walz calls Legislature back for seventh special session

The session comes as COVID-19 cases surge in state, increasing pressure for relief package.
Tribal Chairman Faron Jackson Sr., seen in 2019, has led Leech Lake and its roughly 10,000 enrolled members through the challenges of the COVID-19 pan

Measure will restore nearly 12,000 acres of Leech Lake land

The Leech Lake band, which says it owns the smallest percentage of its original reservation of any of Minnesota tribes, is about to see a historical wrong righted with a federal act that just awaits President Trump's signature.
Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, helped organize the new committee structure in the Senate.

Minnesota Legislature adds committees to respond to COVID-19

There will be 59 committees and subcommittees in the Minnesota Legislature when the 2021 session convenes in January, a slight uptick from the previous two…
Noble Pour general manager Tyler Schwanke made one of the Duluth lounge’s signature cocktails, Midnight Song, behind the bar in December 2019.

Struggling Minnesota bars and restaurants want to sell cocktails to go

Limited beer, wine sales allowed with to-go orders of food, but cocktails still prohibited.
People picked up literature at an early voting celebration on Oct. 29, 2020, at the American Indian OIC in Minneapolis. Organizers helped boost Native

Native American voters across Minnesota turned out to oust Trump

Vote totals were up around Red Lake, and 90% for Biden.
Sen. David Tomassoni of Chisholm waited in the retiring room while outgoing Senate President Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, conducted the vote that named hi

Is Minnesota becoming land of 10,000 political divisions?

Legislators and large blocs of voters are struggling to find their place in an increasingly polarized political environment.
Gov. Tim Walz will use the new forecast due Dec. 3 to get a sense of the field he and the Legislature will be playing on when the governor crafts a ne

Minnesota's next budget forecast coming Dec. 3

Updated numbers will show Walz, legislators the size of the task ahead.
State Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, speaks during a news conference to announce a “Contract to Open Up Minnesota,” outside the St

Gazelka says he could've handled COVID outbreak differently

Senate majority leader says he "personally will apply lessons from this episode to inform future decisions" while DFL leader says Republicans didn't take situation "seriously."
Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury and Senate President Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, spoke before a vote on Thursday, Nov. 12. Republicans ha

Legislators clash over COVID-19 reporting amid outbreak

Minnesota DFL legislators are demanding more transparency from Republican senators who held large indoor gatherings that may have contributed to a COVID-19 outbreak at the Capitol.
Thousands of protesters marched down University toward Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's home in Northeast Minneapolis.

Democrats debate 'defund' movement's cost at polls

Republicans seized on "defund" and "abolish," a lifeline for the party at a time when Trump's approval ratings were dipping and the administration was losing the messaging battle on handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the abrupt ending to the special session, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, talked with House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crow

Divided Legislature could bring bipartisanship — or gridlock

For most of the past decade, Republicans and Democrats at the Minnesota State Capitol have clashed over budget deficits and haggled over taxes and spending.…
Adam Weeks, left, Tyler Kistner and Angie Craig squared off in the Second District, but Weeks, the Legal Marijuana Now candidate, died before the elec

Marijuana candidates shake up Minnesota races

In two pivotal races for control of the Minnesota Senate, candidates running under the pro-marijuana banner pulled in thousands of votes despite largely invisible campaigns.…
Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., addresses a crowd at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 in Rochester, Minn. (AP Photo/Bruce

U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn wins re-election in Minnesota's First District

He beat DFLer Dan Feehan in a rematch by more than 13,000 votes.
Rep. Jim Hagedorn knocked on doors and talked with folks in Le Sueur, Minnesota, during a campaign swing in September 2020.

GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn holds First District seat, beating back challenge from Dan Feehan

Jim Hagedorn was leading DFLer Dan Feehan, but the race had not been called yet by Wednesday morning.