Staff Directory 6370530

Jessie Van Berkel

Reporter | Politics and Government

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
Legislators say the state should not wait on the fate of President Biden’s infrastructure plan to shore up construction on roads, bridges and water

Lawmakers clash over infrastructure funding in Minnesota, Washington

Legislators say the state's bonding negotiations cannot be tied to the American Jobs Plan.
It has been 13 years since Minnesota last increased the gas tax and the cost to repair state infrastructure continues to grow, Rep. Erin Koegel, DFL-S

Minnesota House DFL proposes gas tax increase

House Democrats' transportation funding bill would raise the tax on a gallon of gas by 5 cents over the next four years.
Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul spoke on criminal justice inequities on Feb. 1, 2021 at the state Capitol. GLEN STUBBE • STAR TRIBUNE

Legislature's budget plans differ on how to address racial inequality

Budget proposals vary on approaches to education disparities, police reform.
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.
DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler spoke to House Speaker Melissa Hortman before the start of last October’s special session. GLEN STUBBE • ST

Minnesota House DFL joins Walz in push for tax increase on wealthy

Republicans say tax hikes are dead on arrival.
Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

Minnesota legislators push to end state collection of tax refunds for private hospital debt

Minnesota collected tens of millions for private nonprofit hospitals in recent years.
Democratic leaders House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley and House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park spoke outside the House

Minnesota House Democrats present $52.5 billion budget plan

Political clashes continue over state law enforcement funding for Chauvin trial.
The Cedar High Apartments where a fire left five dead in 2019. AARON LAVINSKY • STAR TRIBUNE

A year after deadly fire, Minnesota House approves high-rise sprinkler requirement

Residential and commercial buildings would need to add automatic systems.
Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., arrives at the Capitol on Feb. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

1.1 million Minnesota children could qualify for expanded tax credit

Expanded child tax credit will give families monthly check starting in summer.
Enbridge contractors worked to identify an older Enbridge pipeline, Line 16, at one of the Line 3 work sites in Carlton, Minn., in December. Money spe

Spending on Minnesota lobbying fell to $67.5 million in 2020

Less money was devoted to influencing those decisionmakers than in any year since 2012, according to newly released data.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka caption here

Minnesota Senate Republicans propose $51.9 billion state budget

Their plan comes as the state's financial outlook has improved.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka speaks during a news conference outside the State Capitol on Oct. 19, 2020. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

Minnesota Senate aims to curb Gov. Tim Walz's emergency powers

State's executive council also extends those emergency powers another month.
Lovetee Polahn stood for a portrait outside her Brooklyn Center home Thursday. Polahn lost her job last year and is worried about paying rent when the

Minnesota legislators debate eviction ban 'off-ramp' as tenants fear homelessness

Legislative planning for the end of the eviction halt has started in earnest.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo addressed the media on preparations for the Derek Chauvin trial on Feb. 17, 2021 in Minneapolis. (Richard T

Minn. officials hail peaceful protests while legislators clash over funding

Minnesota law enforcement leaders applauded the tranquillity of Monday's early demonstrations at the start of the closely watched trial of former Minneapolis police officer…
A Nation Guard humvee blocked the road leading to the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul on Inauguration Day.

Security will increase at Minnesota Capitol during Derek Chauvin's trial

The state has had a tall fence around the Capitol since the end of May, and is adding traffic control measures around the complex.
Deb Loch, master brewer and co-owner of Urban Growler Brewing Co., took a sample from one of the tanks Wednesday afternoon.

Businesses' requests far outweigh $242 million Minnesota relief package

State and county officials have distributed the bulk of the aid approved in December.
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.
The Minnesota Legislature has traditionally passed bonding bills in even years, but some state budget officials have advocated for an annual measure.

Walz pitches $518M package for public works, infrastructure

The governor said that a new public works package would create jobs during the pandemic and help prevent roads and buildings from falling into disrepair.
Crews placed concrete barriers and tall fences, some with barbed wire at the top, around the Hennepin County Government Center in preparation for the

With Chauvin trial looming, Minneapolis faces balancing act on police

City and state leaders plan to bring thousands of soldiers, sheriffs' deputies and police into the metro area.
Minneapolis Police held the line to box in protesters on I-94 during the National Day of Protest rally and march in Minneapolis last November. LEILA N

Minnesota House fails to pass SAFE Act for security during Chauvin trial

Legislators are divided over the measure to cover police bills.
John Harrington, Minnesota public safety commissioner, was one of several speakers at the news conference Wednesday afternoon.

City, state leaders detail plans ahead of Derek Chauvin trial

Thousands of police, sheriffs deputies and Minnesota National Guard members are ready to jump into action during the upcoming trial of the first of four officers charged in the killing of George Floyd.
Minneapolis Police officers formed a line as a makeshift barricade erected by protesters earlier was removed along South Fourth Avenue.     ]aaron.lav

Legislature deadlocked over Chauvin trial security

Chauvin case looms but the Legislature is mired in debate over police reform.
Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Robert Doty answered a question from a reporter during a press conference to debut the state budget plan

Walz tax cut for 1 million families doesn't reach lowest earners

Some Republicans quickly derided the small amount, with House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt calling it "a talking point, that's not a tax cut."
Minnesota's big brewers calling for end to growler limit at State Capitol

Minnesota's big brewers calling for end to growler limit at State Capitol

Minnesota brewers gathered at the Capitol on Thursday to make the case for the state to remove its limits on which breweries can sell growlers.Leaders…
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.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa and Rep. Erik Mortensen, R-Shakopee took the oath in the House Chamber.  Mortensen later attempted to force a vote to

Minnesota GOP legislators push for Walz's impeachment over executive orders

Similar arguments that Walz overreached have been rejected by the courts.
Republican Mike Murphy, mayor of Lexington in Anoka County, is running for governor.

First Republican candidate announces bid for Minnesota governor

The first Republican candidate has joined the race for Minnesota governor.Mike Murphy, mayor of the small town of Lexington in Anoka County, said while he…
Armed members of the Minnesota National Guard are shown leaving the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility in downtown Minneapolis, on Thursday, June

Walz to activate Minnesota National Guard around Derek Chauvin's trial

The state is coordinating with other law enforcement agencies ahead of the trial.
Police stood guard after using tear gas to clear a group of hundreds of protesters that had gathered near the Minneapolis Police 5th Precinct in the h

State leaders split over fund to support law enforcement during emergencies

The governor wants to create the account ahead of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin's trial.
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.
A demolition crew loaded concrete in trucks at the Atlas Staffing site on East Lake Street in Minneapolis earlier in January.

Minnesota leaders clash over state aid for repairing damage from George Floyd riots

Minnesota leaders are debating the state's financial responsibility for helping Minneapolis and St. Paul pay for property damage and other costs related to last summer's…
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.
Gov. Tim Walz, seen on Jan. 15, will roll out his second two-year budget in a landscape that’s dramatically different from two years ago, as the pan

Gov. Tim Walz's budget aims to address COVID's uneven impact

Gov. Tim Walz said the coronavirus has not decimated the priorities he campaigned on — although he's hoping the new administration in Washington can help…
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.
With most legislators working remotely, travel and other expenses fell in 2020. Seven special sessions boosted some costs.

Legislators' special session expenses add up for 2020

Minnesota lawmakers' overall per diem costs and expense reimbursements fell in 2020 as more people worked from home during the pandemic. Still, payments to legislators…
Concrete barriers are in place around the Minnesota Capitol, and more than 100 Minnesota National Guard military police will stand watch this weekend,

'Nothing left undone' to guard Capitol during possible protests

Minnesota's top public safety officials say they have detailed precautions set up ahead of protests this weekend, but said there are no credible threats against the State Capitol.
Legislators being sworn in remotely at the Minnesota State Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn.

Minnesota House, Senate kick off work on vastly different priorities

The two chambers have sharply different focuses in their early bills this session.
Pam Carlson, left, and Amy McClure calmly discussed and debated the second impeachment of President Trump inside McKenzie’s Bar & Grill in Hermantow

Minnesotans clash over President Donald Trump's second impeachment

Some of Trump's supporters in Minnesota dismissed impeachment as a "ridiculous charade."
The Minnesota State Patrol and Capitol Security forces were keeping a watchful eye around the State Capitol Tuesday afternoon.     ] GLEN STUBBE • g

Minnesota National Guard, security forces prepare amid threats of violence

Walz is deploying the Minnesota National Guard ahead of potentially violent protests.
Protesters attended a rally on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at the State Capitol in St. Paul in support of GOP efforts to overturn the presidential election.

Gov. Walz, GOP start session with clash over Capitol attack

An annual panel with state leaders erupted with Walz making accusations of gaslighting and GOP drawing comparisons to George Floyd protests.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz takes a photo of a box containing over 2,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine delivered to the Minneapolis VA Hos

Midwest governors share ideas, frustrations in battle with COVID-19

Close pandemic partnership ends at Minn.'s western and southern borders.
A few legislators are sworn in in person at the House Chamber on Tuesday. The Minnesota House passed a rule saying members and employees must wear fac

Legislators clash over face masks as session starts

The political battle over face masks resurfaced at the Minnesota Capitol as the legislative session kicked off last week.House Democrats passed a rule saying members…
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.
Americans are likely to start seeing the $600 relief checks very soon, federal officials said.

Minnesota awaits its cut of $900 billion COVID stimulus

State leaders are trying to discern just how much Minnesota will get, and when.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz put his face mask at the conclusion of a July news conference.

Capitol push to end Gov. Walz's emergency power is longshot

Speaker Melissa Hortman says she doesn't foresee "any set of facts" where the Minnesota House would vote to end powers.
U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., shakes hands with attendees at the end of a town hall in Owatonna, Minnesota, on July 22, 2019. (Glen Stubbe/Minneapo

Rep. Jim Hagedorn has surgery for kidney cancer

Southern Minnesota Republican has been fighting cancer; wife Jennifer Carnahan calls surgery success.
The new House Ways and Means chairwoman, Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, is taking over this key committee ahead of what’s likely to be a session fil

Rep. Rena Moran leverages life experience in rise to top Minnesota Capitol post

The St. Paul DFLer is stepping into one of the State Capitol's most powerful jobs.
Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday he will loosen his COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants, gyms, youth sports and family gatherings.

Walz loosens restrictions on bars, gyms and youth sports

Fitness studios and gyms will be able to reopen at lower capacity, and bars and restaurants may resume only outdoor service.
Commemorative pens for Electoral College Assembly ceremony in 2016. This year’s event will be scaled back because of the pandemic.

Electors prepare to cast Minnesota's votes for Biden as Trump keeps up false claims

In unprecedented election, 10 gather Monday to cast state's votes for Biden.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm urged a closer look at “transformational opportunities” in trimming the budget.

State IDs $100M in health and human services savings

The state of Minnesota launched a blue ribbon commission last year with a big goal: Find $100 million of savings in health and human services…
Tiffany Lounge on Ford Parkway had its share of patrons because bars shut down under Governor Walz’s orders.] With bars closing down Friday at midni

Lawmakers agree on COVID-19 business relief, but unemployment is sticking point

Democrats said a deal is contingent on additional unemployment benefits.
Wendy Clark’s home day care in Shakopee received a $4,500 grant from Scott County. "That saved us," she said of the money that trickled down from th

Minnesota counties, cities use up COVID aid as needs persist

Minnesota counties, cities and towns got $1.1 billion from the CARES Act. Now they are navigating a spike in virus cases and another wave of business closures just as funds are running out.
The Minnesota Legislature met in special session Monday, July 13, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn.

Minnesotans' spending helps flip state budget to surplus, for now

A $1.3 billion shortfall is forecast for the next budget cycle.
Jim Schowalter, who previously served in Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration, was named as Myron Frans’ successor as head of MMB. ] GLEN STUBBE •

Two state finance leaders take helm amid Minnesota budget uncertainty

While picture has brightened, questions cloud future new finance chiefs try to see.
Louis-Marie Brochard helped customer Annie Santos with her selections at Haskell’s. The Haskell's on Ford Parkway, St. Paul has seen an increase in

Millions in 'sin taxes' flowing into state coffers during pandemic

Annie Santos headed to the store for some emergency supplies after a distressing message from her children’s school. “We just got the e-mail from school…
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.
Outgoing Senate President Senate President Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, right, gave Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, a congratulatory elbow bump before

Republicans in Legislature make moves on Klobuchar speculation

In the sixth special session this year, legislators played political chess as Republicans tried to protect their one-seat hold on the Senate next year if Sen. Amy Klobuchar joins President-elect Joe Biden's cabinet.
Tom Arneson of Brooklyn Center, a Vietnam Army artillery veteran, paid his respect Wednesday at the Veterans Day ceremony at the Minnesota Vietnam Mem

Minnesota continues battle against homelessness for veterans

Milestone met in suburbs, but amid the pandemic, "there's more work to be done."
Michelle Fischbach, GOP candidate for Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District seat, arrived at a watch party in Olivia, Minn., in August 2020.

Some Minnesota Republicans join Trump in raising election concerns

Prominent Minnesota Republican leaders joined President Donald Trump in questioning the results of an election that remained too close to call Friday, some raising unsupported…
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. Angie Craig, D-Minn., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Craig staves off challenge from Republican Kistner in 2nd District

She had 9,386 more votes than challenger Tyler Kistner on Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Angie Craig visited the Welch, Minnesota, farm of Les Anderson in October 2020.

Rep. Angie Craig wins Minnesota's 2nd District, turning back GOP challenger Tyler Kistner

A deceased Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate attracted significant votes.
Rep. Dean Phillips drove his campaign vehicle to Excelsior, Minnesota, and campaigned in September 2020.

Rep. Dean Phillips wins Minnesota's 3rd District over GOP challenger Kendall Qualls

He won over voters by highlighting his bipartisan credentials, defeating political newcomer Kendall Qualls.
Democratic Rep. Angie Craig and GOP challenger Tyler Kistner

Rep. Angie Craig vs. Tyler Kistner too close to call in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District

The swing district race has been clouded by legal confusion.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum prepares for an 11th term

Longtime Fourth District U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum easily secured an 11th term in Congress, where she is positioned for an increasingly prominent role on the…
U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar spoke to campaign staffers and volunteers in Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis while campaigning this fall.

Rep. Ilhan Omar wins easily in Minnesota's heavily Democratic Fifth District race

The national spotlight on Omar has prompted people to spend heavily on the Fifth District's primary and general elections.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took part in a public service announcement urging Minnesotans to vote.

In video, 4 Minnesota governors call for 'civility' around election

Gov. Tim Walz and three predecessors shoot ad asking for "decency," patience after election.
President Trump took aim at Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison for enforcing the crowd restrictions at his rally Friday in Rochester.

Trump agrees to 'speech-stifling' crowd limit in Rochester

The president abided by Walz's limits on crowd size for a scaled-down rally Friday in Rochester.
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden

Trump, Biden both headed to Minnesota today for rallies

Trump will be in the Rochester area today; Biden will be in St. Paul.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke at a news conference May 5, 2020, to discuss Minnesota’s projected $2.4 billion deficit.

Walz says every option on table for state's worst budget deficit in decade

GOP hopes to provide conservative bulwark; DFL wants full control.
Tens of millions in campaign dollars flood fight for Minnesota Legislature

Tens of millions in campaign dollars flood fight for Minnesota Legislature

DFL-aligned groups have outspent the GOP so far.
Jason Lewis spoke to supporters at a combined Minnesota GOP and Trump campaign rally in Stillwater in September 2020.

GOP Senate candidate Jason Lewis has emergency surgery

The hernia surgery was successful and minimally invasive, campaign manager Tom Szymanski said. Doctors expect Lewis to be released from the hospital in a couple of days.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, left, and challenger, Republican Tyler Kistner.

Congressional candidates sticking to the center in Second District race

The race between U.S. Rep. Angie Craig and newcomer Tyler Kistner was shaping up as a heated but fairly typical swing district battle until September, when it veered into unfamiliar territory.