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
Protesters chanting "Free Myon" and "Black Lives Matter" took over the stage in the gym at St. Louis Park High school before Sen. Amy Klobuchar was to

George Floyd's death returns spotlight to Klobuchar prosecutor past

Her presidential bid was marked by an inability to gain inroads with black primary voters while facing criticism by civil rights activists.
The East Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, shown in 2018. Cities and counties across Minnesota and the nation are furiously lobbying Congress f

Lobbyists for Minnesota cities, counties converge on Washington for help

Mayors are mobilizing to lobby Congress, though some doubt their sway.
Sharon Carlson stood beside her daughters, Jaime, left, and Kristin, 26, outside their Andover home.

Political divide evident even in wearing masks, Minnesota Poll finds

Regardless of whether respondents were sorted by ideological preference, geographic area or age group, majorities said they'd donned a mask.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced new guidelines Wednesday for restaurants, bars, salons and barber shops starting June 1.

Minnesota Poll: Stay-at-home rules get support from a majority

More than two-thirds of Minnesotans say they won't return to normal rhythms of daily life, and many believe the worst is yet to come, according to a new Minnesota Poll.
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley walked into the House Chamber wearing a mask.

Minnesota cities, counties are strained as $667M in aid remains in limbo

The Legislature ended its work Sunday without a decision on how to distribute $667 million in federal aid for counties, cities and towns — leaving cash-strapped communities in limbo as coronavirus costs pile up.
The House floor was mostly empty on Sunday, the final day of the regular Minnesota legislative session, as votes were cast by a roll call vote.

Special session to pick up where the Minnesota Legislature left off

Lawmakers left behind reams of partisan priorities, but they expect to come back in June
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown walked out of the House Chamber not wearing a mask. All the DFL legislators choose to wear a mask on the Hou

'Flurry of negotiations' but no deal on final day of session

Minnesota lawmakers failed to reach agreement on a major construction package, tax relief and spending on economic aid during the COVID-19 pandemic as an end-of-session deadline passed Sunday night.
Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans joined Minneapolis officials in an underground tour of the storm tunnel sys

Pandemic standoff clouds vote on Minnesota construction projects

The House will vote on a $2 billion bonding bill Saturday. GOP members have said they would block it.
At the Minnesota State Capitol on Tuesday, where the electrolier was still illuminated in the morning just after sunrise.

Minnesota legislators face off over federal COVID-19 aid for counties, cities

Local government aid is one piece of the federal funding debate.
Lindsey Port, shown in 2017 during a run for the Minnesota House. Port is now running for a targeted seat in the Republican-controlled Senate, and the

COVID-19 forces 2020 candidates to retool their campaigns

More candidates focus on jobs, economy, public health rather than partisan projects.
The Minnesota State Capitol

Minnesota's expiring COVID-19 money a 'looming problem'

Budget officials seek extension and an additional $200 million or more.
Gov. Tim Walz headed to speak Tuesday after Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans' remarks on the state's budget projection

New Minnesota budget projection: $2.4 billion deficit

The state's budget outlook crumbled from a $1.5 billion surplus to a projected $2.4 billion deficit in just two months, as the COVID-19 pandemic eats up tax revenue and Minnesota leaders accelerate spending to respond.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake.] GLEN STUBBE • Tuesday, April 14, 2020

GOP's Gazelka says he won't delay bonding bill over Walz emergency powers

GOP leader wants oversight on virus relief, but Legislature's time is running short.
Former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach faced a drawn-out competition before securing her party’s support. She will be up against Democratic U.S. Rep. Co

Minnesota Republicans endorse Michelle Fischbach, Tyler Kistner in bids for Congress

They will face off with Democratic U.S. Reps. Angie Craig and Collin Peterson.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks at a news conference concerning the coronavirus on Thursday in St. Paul.

Lawmakers weigh building projects to boost Minnesota's economy in pandemic

Legislators have three weeks to wrap up a borrowing bill, and its scope remains unclear.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Jesse Ventura to 'test the waters' of Green Party presidential bid

He tweeted Monday that he authorized a letter of interest to be sent.
Crews are continuing work on various MnDOT projects, including the Hwy. 5 improvements around the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which ar

Less driving means fewer funds to fix Minnesota's roads

The Minnesota Department of Transportation estimates it will take in $440 million less than anticipated over this year and next.
Members of the Minnesota House shown in March.

Minnesota legislators split over money to prevent eviction 'wave'

DFL housing aid plan would provide $100 million, the GOP's $30 million.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, shown at a recent news conference, is joining the leaders of six other Midwestern states to collaborate on reopening their ec

Minnesota in regional deal to coordinate COVID recovery

Minnesota is joining six other Midwestern states to collaborate as they reopen their economies and scale back from stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures.
Mike Jennings, owner of Scoreboard Bar and Grill and other restaurants, spoke during a news conference Monday at the State Capitol in St. Paul in favo

Minn. legislators strike deal on takeout beer and wine sales at restaurants

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Thursday, and the House is expected to follow on Friday.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz provided an update on the state's next steps to respond to COVID-19 during a news conference on April 8.

Minnesota businesses push for exemptions in stay-home order

State agency heads, along with members of the business community, talked last week about letting more businesses open and operate safely.
Nicole Smith-Holt and her husband, James, watched the insulin affordability vote from the House Gallery on Tuesday. The bill was inspired by their son

Minnesota Legislature passes long-awaited emergency insulin bill

A Minnesotan's death due to insulin rationing spurred years of advocacy.
Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler spoke with members of the state's emergency response community including firefighters, police officers, n

First responders infected with coronavirus qualify for workers' comp

Local government groups and some legislators raised cost concerns.
Representatives in the Minnesota House kept the recommended distance as they convened Thursday.

Lobbying on hold as Minnesota Legislature focuses on COVID-19

Advocates look to a special session or 2021 for nonrelated measures.
Emily Allen, a nurse who is working at Bethesda Hospital - which is handling COVID-19 cases - worked and played with her kids on her day off. Leo, 4,

On front line, Minnesota women feel virus' economic sting

Over the past three weeks, nearly 39,000 more women than men have applied for unemployment in Minnesota.
Gov. Tim Walz, left, and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans presented a scaled-back supplemental state budget on March 12.

From surplus to 'tsunami': Pandemic dims bright forecast for state's budget

A month ago, Minnesota leaders were debating how to use an anticipated $1.5 billion surplus. On Monday, they were facing a radically different picture of…
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz delivered his delayed State of the State address over YouTube from his residence on Sunday.

Walz calls for a 'united' state of the state amid COVID-19

"Long hours of darkness are ahead," Gov. Tim Walz warned. But he added that Minnesotans are already uniting by staying at home to prevent the spread, supporting health care workers and being there for one another while staying apart.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill Saturday morning allocating $330 million in COVID-19 aid passed by the state legislature on March 26. Governor W

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz's State of the State to be streamed online Sunday

The event was originally scheduled to be held in the House chamber.
Representatives including Heather Edelson, DFL-Edina, top, and Sandra Masin, DFL-Eagan, worked to keep the recommended distancing as the Minnesota Hou

Minnesota House, Senate pass $330 million in COVID-19 aid

Details of the new aid package did not come to light until shortly before the House and Senate votes, following days of private talks.
The Minnesota State Capitol.

Minnesota legislators will meet Thursday for action on COVID-19 relief

Legislators are reviewing Gov. Tim Walz's funding requests for food shelves and other emergency services.
“The most important thing Minnesotans can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement.

Walz predicts 40-80% in state will get virus, though most will be fine

Gov. Tim Walz said Monday that he is not showing any symptoms but will be self-quarantined at home for the next two weeks after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan's brother dies of COVID-19

He was the second person to die from the virus in Tennessee.
Business groups, pharmaceutical, building and mining interests spent big dollars during Gov. Tim Walz’s tenure in 2019.

How $65 million was spent to influence Minnesota state government last year

Here are some of the takeaways from annual lobbying expenditure reports
A line of socially distant customers formed Friday outside of Surdyk's on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis as they limited how many customers could be i

Walz closer to shelter-in-place decision to fight coronavirus

The governor is getting closer to a decision on a "shelter-in-place" order that could further restrict Minnesotans' travel. He also issued orders expanding an agency's authority plus targeting scams and price-gouging.
Thousands of newly idled Minnesota workers slammed the state with unemployment requests Tuesday seeking early benefits following Gov. Tim Walz’s eme

Unemployment requests spike as Minn. businesses close for COVID-19

Emergency order waives waiting period to help workers affected by spreading coronavirus.
Miss Richfield 1981 pauses to let children study the pages of "Neither," one of the featured books at a Stories Together with Drag Performers at the A

GOP lawmakers not amused by libraries' drag queen story hours

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, the primary sponsor of a House bill, said he does not want the readings to happen in public spaces with taxpayers subsidizing them.
"If there was ever a time for a one page budget this is it" said Gov. Tim Walz as he held up his supplemental budget on Thursday, which is scaled back

Virus concerns prompt Gov. Walz to scale back Minn. budget

Scaled-back supplemental budget leaves nearly $1.2 billion unspent as governor warns that state dollars should be used to expand the state's reserves and for emergency response and preparation as the coronavirus spreads.
Insulin backers including Nicole Smith-Holt, center, gathered outside the House Chamber to support House members who are expected to pass an emergency

Signs of a compromise on insulin aid as Senate passes bill

A conference committee will next try to reconcile the two cost-control bills.
Dr. Hannah Lichtsinn of Minnesota Doctors for Health Equity holding her 6-year-old daughter, Linnea, speaks at a news conference at the state Capitol

Minnesota House passes bill for paid family and medical leave

Minnesota workers would be eligible for up to 12 weeks of extended paid leave after giving birth or if they need to care for a…
Shawn Pearson took a “I Voted” sticker after submitting his presidential primary ballot in Duluth on Tuesday.

Suburban communities key in Biden's Super Tuesday win in Minnesota

Nearly three times as many people participated in the state's presidential primary than past caucuses.
President Donald Trump with Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci,

Trump wins Minnesota GOP primary, with no challenger

Turnout in the GOP presidential primary lagged Democrats.
Sen. Bernie Sanders waved at the crowd after Rep. Ilhan Omar introduced him at a rally at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, on Monday, March 2, 2020

Sanders draws contrasts with Biden at rally before primary

The Vermont senator urged supporters of Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who ended their campaigns over the past two days, to join his cause.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren arrives to speak to supporters at a canvassing event on the morning of the South Carolina Democratic Primary, in Columbia, S.C.,

Campaigns make final push for Super Tuesday delegates

Minnesotans head to the polls Tuesday for the state's first presidential primary in nearly three decades, one of 14 contests shaping up as a "Super…
Budget officials Budget Director Britta Reitan, State Economist Dr. Laura Kalambokidis and MMB Commissioner Myron Frans began the economic forecast pr

State's projected surplus rises to $1.5B, setting up spending battle

The updated budget forecast will energize debates at the State Capitol over spending, tax cuts and borrowing for public construction projects. Gov. Tim Walz and legislators on both sides of the aisle have signaled competing priorities for a budget surplus.
Insulin backers including Nicole Smith-Holt, center, gathered outside the House chamber to support House members who voted to pass an emergency insuli

Minn. House passes emergency insulin bill, but work is just beginning

The Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled House must merge their versions.
Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, spoke at the press conference; behind him is Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson.

Minnesota legislators want to improve school bus safety

Legislators aim to increase awareness of bus stop signals.
A Star Tribune/MPR News poll found 51% of registered voters in Minnesota think the state should broadly legalize recreational marijuana, while 37% opp

Minnesota Poll: 51% support legalized pot

The Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota poll comes as DFL Gov. Tim Walz and legislators are considering following 11 other states and the District of Columbia that have allowed recreational marijuana.
More than half of registered voters in Minnesota approve of the job Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is doing after his first full year in office, a new poll

Minnesota Poll finds Gov. Tim Walz's job approval at 56%

Fifty-six percent of those surveyed gave Gov. Tim Walz a favorable review, while a quarter disapproved of his performance. His marks are on par with former Gov. Mark Dayton's average during his eight years in office.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar sought to recover from recent stumbles on the trail and sparred with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at the Democratic debat

Klobuchar among candidates whose bank accounts are low headed into February races

Funds dwindling, though Klobuchar and Warren get boosts; Sanders is flush.
Flooding on the Red River in 2009.

As spring floods loom, Gov. Walz proposes $30 million for disaster aid

State officials are calling for fast action ahead of possible spring flooding.
Minnesota House Democrats have offered a $500 million plan for early childhood aid that includes grants and loans for child care providers and child c

Minnesota lawmakers propose ways to ease child-care crunch

DFL lawmakers offer $500 million plan for grants, loans and child care assistance.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. speaks during the rally outside of the U.S. Capitol, during a house vote to measure limiting President Donald Trump's ability

Rep. Ilhan Omar proposes U.S. foreign policy shift

Her plan addresses human rights, migration and youth aid.
Moms Demand Action chanted "welcome back, welcome back" for returning legislators but were told they cant be loud outside the Senate chambers.

Minnesota Legislature opens 2020 election year session

Victories at the Capitol might take a back seat to election-year organizing.
The Minnesota House Chamber Tuesday morning. A special session still looms to finish much of the work that was not completed before the session came t

What's front and center when 2020 Legislature kicks off?

In an election year, partisan differences will lead to disparate priorities on issues like spending, guns, and drug prices.

Minnesota House Democrats present top goals of 2020 session

House Democrats want to spend more on pre-K education and child care.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., hugs a woman after speaking at a campaign event, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Portsmouth,

Amy Klobuchar now looks ahead after likely fifth-place Iowa finish

The delayed results showed Klobuchar within striking distance of Joe Biden, a national poll leader who showed worrying signs of weakness.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., arrives on Capitol Hill, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 in Washington.

Iowa caucus day arrives with Klobuchar back in D.C.

Supporters and surrogates are making their last pitches to voters who will head to the Iowa caucuses at 7 p.m., with door knocking and call bank events scheduled throughout the day.
Caucus forms are visible on a table as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden visits an American Legion Post, Thursday, Jan

What happens at an Iowa caucus?

The rules have changed — and that could matter.
Transit officers Noah LaBathe, left, and LaFayette Temple checked for valid passes or receipts from riders at the East Bank Station in Minneapolis in

Legislators, Met Council look to decriminalize light rail fare evasion

Someone caught riding without a ticket now faces a $180 misdemeanor penalty, though few such cases are prosecuted. The bill would reduce that to a $25 petty misdemeanor fine.

Minn. battle over insulin aid to continue in 2020 legislative session

Legislators' offers over past two weeks reveal a persistent partisan divide.
St. Paul city officials say they’d like to add a 1% sales tax to spend on prekindergarten services, housing and roads. Here, street service worker B

Minnesota lawmakers seek to limit cities' growing use of sales taxes

Some legislators worry it could heighten the disparities between cities with and without much retail revenue.
A poll worker spoke with a voter as the Minneapolis Early Voting Center opened Jan. 17.

Parties clash over proposal to limit access to Minn. voter data

The state's top election official and the Minnesota DFL Party are seeking to further limit access to information about which political party voters sided with in the upcoming March primary — a move the state Republican Party condemned as "scare tactics" Thursday.
Lance Daberkow and his family have seen income from their farm shrink over the past two years. “It’s tight, especially with two kids,” he says.

Struggling Minnesota farmers weigh their support for Trump

Many growers around Minnesota facing an uncertain farm economy are having their faith in President Trump tested this time around.
St. Paul’s Ayd Mill Road is one of the metro’s best known potholed-and-patched stretches, widely used as a diagonal shortcut between Interstate 35

How to pay for bridges, roads? Funding battle brews at Capitol

Gov. Tim Walz opted not to draw extensively on borrowing to pay for state highways as part of a $2 billion public infrastructure bonding package he presented last week.
A special election primary Tuesday will likely determine who wins the seat held for 15 years by Rep. Diane Loeffler, who died in November.

A dozen northeast Minneapolis progressives face off in Minnesota House special election

Tuesday's primary will likely determine who lands at the Capitol.
Minnesota Gov.Tim Walz unveiled Wednesday his final bonding packages of $2.028 for his Local Jobs and Projects plan. The announcement was at the Depar

Walz unveils final part of record $2 billion public works plan

The plan includes $212 million for local roads and bridges, as well as more local projects than past borrowing proposals.
In the third stage of his public works proposal rollout, Gov. Tim Walz presented his plan to improve higher education infrastructure across the state.

Walz proposes borrowing $447M for state's colleges, universities

The governor and higher ed leaders said the investment will help build the state's workforce.
Gov. Tim Walz intends to roll out his sweeping public works package in four phases over the next week.

Gov. Walz proposes Minn. borrow $276M for affordable housing

Gov. Tim Walz unveiled the first part of his 2020 state bonding proposal, recommending to the Legislature that Minnesota borrow $276 million to pay for affordable housing projects across the state. Some of the money could be used to add sprinklers to public housing buildings.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Johnson Family Farm in Wells, Minn., on Wednesday to tour the farm and talk about trade tariffs. O

In Minnesota, Michael Bloomberg tries to show ex-N.Y. mayor would fight for rural interests

The candidate's extensive spending here could benefit other Democrats, some said.
The coffins of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others are carried on a truck through Tehran during a funeral procession on Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. Suleim

Omar among lawmakers seeking control over U.S. action on Iran

Democratic lawmakers are seeking limits on the president's use of military force against Iran.
While touring Waseca businesses with Mayor Roy Srp, left, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz headed to 4-Season's Athletics on North State St.

Gov. Tim Walz sees mixed results on campaign priorities

Gov. Tim Walz has made headway on some campaign goals while others fell by the wayside amid partisan gridlock during his first year.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged applause as he arrived at Waseca Junior/Senior High School.

For Gov. Walz, a year of striving for consensus in a divided state

Minnesota's governor enters his second year in office facing a list of unfinished policy priorities, some politically fraught decisions and the complicated backdrop of the 2020 election.
Charlie Zelle answers audience questions during an event to educate the public about the 35W/94 project.

Former MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle to lead Met Council

Nora Slawik, Gov. Tim Walz's original Met Council appointee, resigned in November after about 10 months on the job.

Minn. legislators clash over insulin funding plan; special session in doubt

House speaker said lawmakers likely won't vote on an emergency insulin program until February.
Among the ideas offered by Senate Majority Leader Majority Paul Gazelka: transportation projects and improved school safety.

What to do with $1.3 billion? A surplus of ideas for Minnesota

But hold up: The forecast doesn't account for $1.2 billion in inflation in the next budget cycle, 2022 and 2023.