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Lori Sturdevant

Editorial writer and columnist | Opinion
Phone: 612-673-4505

Lori Sturdevant is a retired Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist who has written about Minnesota government and politics since 1978. She is also the author or editor of 11 books about notable Minnesotans. 

Sturdevant is a native of Dell Rapids, S.D., and a graduate of Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has been a member of Coe's board of trustees for 30 years. Sturdevant lives in St. Paul with her husband. They have three grown children.
Recent content from Lori Sturdevant
FILE - A for sale sign stands in front of a house, on Oct. 6, 2020, in Westwood, Mass. Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates jumped back up ahead of n

As a topic among policymakers, housing is hotter than it once was

It's a solid part of the problem-solving agenda now, and it's not hard to understand why.
Pictured here: Students passed a statue of Goldy the gopher and the university’s logo during a class change at the University of Minnesota last mont

Worries about the U faded in search for new president

An interview with Mary Davenport, chair of the search committee.
A divided house responds to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz's remarks during the State of the State address Wednesday night  in the house chambers of the Minn

Up next for the DFL: amending the state Constitution

Abortion rights and housing assistance are two issues legislators hope will drive DFL voters to the booth.

To combat contempt of courts, there's no substitute for character

Minnesota justices have set a high standard of integrity.
The Minneapolis City skyline, including City Hall, as seen from the back of the U.S. District Court.

Toxic politics may poison governance

Respect for those who disagree with you is fundamental to effective government.
Fred Norton in 1981. The St. Paul DFLer served as speaker of the Minnesota House during the 1980 session following unexpected developments during the

Lori Sturdevant: A Minnesota lesson for the U.S. House quagmire

Return with me to the State Capitol events of 1980.
There’s a proposal on St. Paul ballots this fall: a 1% sales tax for the next 20 years, dedicated to street and park improvements. Above, drivers d

St. Paul's sales tax: Minnesota Miracle 2.0?

The increase would apply the financial muscle of sales taxes to local government needs — again.
Then-DFL Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen in her Senate office in 2022.

A new voice for the U

We need a lot more people like Melisa López Franzen if the state is to thrive during the next several decades.
Jan Malcolm is retired as Minnesota’s commissioner of health but will be head of a new task force on academic health at the University of Minnesota.

Lori Sturdevant: It's regrettable that U-Fairview talks have been so hush-hush

The announcement of a task force on academic health at the U should help remedy this.
U.S. Sen. Hubert Humphrey in 1972.

Humphrey's was a tale of vision, vigor and valor

And it's a good reminder of how we can be a part of positive change.
The Minnesota State Capitol building in St. Paul.

Minnesota's future: Early ed champions are thrilled, not satisfied

Major progress was made, but we need to do more for children from low-income families.
“Why has growth [of workers] stopped? Baby boomer retirements, for one thing. A slowdown in international immigration for another. But a disconcerti

Calling all workers was session's Job One

The growth of workers in Minnesota has stopped, and that needs to be addressed.

Fixed-price gas tax leaves state roads in bad shape

Inflation is speeding ahead while our funding is idling.
“Gov. Tim Walz and the House DFL majority have both announced plans for a Social Security income tax cut that falls short of a full exemption,” Lo

On Social Security taxes, Minnesota seniors need a talking to

And legislators should be willing to do the talking.
Shepard Road in St. Paul was reduced from 50 to 35 MPH because of all the potholes, cars are seen driving on Shepard Road near Davern Street on Friday

Potholes and taxes in St. Paul

A few decades of disregard on several levels explains the current 1% sales tax proposal.
Entrance to the campus of the University of Minnesota

All U needs is love — at the Capitol

The University of Minnesota is crucial to our state's health, and it would be wise for the governor to show it.
“It would seem that a party that has long been suspicious of registration at the polls would welcome a change that gets more people on voter rolls i

Minnesota's voting reforms are 50 years in the making

They'll be labeled "extreme," but those who have been paying attention know better.
Michael Noble of Fresh Energy spoke at the bill signing on Feb. 7, where Gov. Tim Walz signed into law legislation that will move Minnesota utilities

Capping a clean energy career with a breakthrough

Michael Noble has now seen major climate legislation signed into law, but he's not done advocating for our future.
Former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger, photographed in 2020, has died at the age of 88.

'We need more Dave Durenbergers'

That's I what often heard voters say to the late senator. They're right.
The Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, where the legislative session opened last week.

DFL may go big, and that wouldn't be bad

Some policy moves are worth making, even if they come at a political price.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz reviews notes before speaking about the state’s budget Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, at the Minnesota Department of Revenue in St.

Future well-being should top agenda for 2023

Minnesota's surplus is an opportunity to lead.
Voters fill out their ballots Nov. 8 at Emerson Dual Language School in Minneapolis.

One Minnesota dream meets two-Minnesota reality

This election, red got redder and blue got bluer, and we'll suffer because of that.
Many Minnesotans have registered on Election Day at least once, and most will tell you that it was easy, convenient and safe.

Same-day voter registration works in Minnesota

It helps more people vote, and is considered less prone to fraud than pre-registration. Why would we want to take that away?
A view of the Minnesota State Capitol on Thursday, May 16, 2019. (Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS) ORG XMIT: 48489742W

Abolishing state income taxes could be a costly mistake

Balancing that budget loss would require enormous spending cuts, increases in other taxes, or both.
Around 250 people gather at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on September 13, 2021, to show their support for abortion rights and to protest the

The swing districts of 2022

A Lake Minnetonka-area state Senate race could turn on the abortion issue.
Above, the view from the Minnesota State Capitol.

The Minnesota muddle

Citizens have come to accept state government dysfunction as normal, and that's not good.
A flare burns natural gas at an oil well on Aug. 26, 2021, in Watford City, N.D.

Gas costs, climate crisis fuel a dilemma

Legislators must know we're running out of time to make meaningful policy changes.
Gov. Tim Walz leaves the podium as he finishes a news conference on Monday about the state’s latest economic forecast, including a more than $9 bill

A skeptic's view of the state surplus

The world has changed since that forecast was made.
Abortion rights advocates demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, in Washington.

In post-Roe Minnesota, abortion could be a potent political issue

Under state court precedent, it would be difficult to outlaw abortion in our state. But it's not unthinkable.
Climate activists attend a protest organized by the COP26 Coalition on Nov. 6 in Glasgow, Scotland, which was the host city of the COP26 U.N. Climate

Minnesota, the Midwest are central in combating climate change

For progress to occur, representative democracy will have to work better in these parts than it has in several decades.
Former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton: “The people who put Question 2 on the ballot have a vision, but they don’t have a plan. If you want

City Question 2: The nuanced message of a 'no' vote

Former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton has a good sense of what will motivate voters and what parallels to draw.
Former Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie delivered a speech to the Bureau International des Expositions in 2017. Minnesota’s bid that year t

Expo could be just what Minnesota's battered reputation needs

My hunch is that the state benefits when the world is given a glimpse of what this place does right.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is said to be considering a run for Minnesota governor in 2023.

No good commissioner goes unpunished

Confirmation as a blood sport makes government service ever less appealing to top talent.
Heather Charles/ Staff Photographer St. Paul, MN: 7/14/04: Tom Swain, 83, stands in his office in Landmark Center in front of a poster for the Univers

Approaching 100, 'Citizen Swain' takes on climate change

Tom Swain's eagerness to take on big issues has led to the creation of the new Swain Climate Policy Series at the University of Minnesota.

The politics of obstruction, Minnesota-style

Like the much-debated U.S. Senate filibuster, Minnesota's requirement of a supermajority to pass bonding bills is under scrutiny, and should be.

Finally, women's value to workforce is acknowledged

It's beyond time for the state to provide more support for child care.

Voter ID is back to haunt Minnesota democracy

The rejection of a constitutional amendment in 2012 should have been persuasive to proponents of this bad idea, but it wasn't.

The sorry state of 'One Minnesota' needs attention from Walz

He'll need broad support in order to lead effectively, and in November 2022.
A long line of voters forms outside of First United Methodist Church as the sun rose over Lake Superior in Duluth, Minn., on Election Day, Tuesday, No

Minnesota voters still cross party lines

Recent trends toward partisan allegiance work against good government. Thankfully, some ticket-splitters remain with us.
The Supreme Court building in Washington, early Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, before the first confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Do

Packing the court to save it? A Minnesota judicial moderate ponders

Mindy Greiling and her son, Jim.

REVIEW: 'Fix What You Can,' by Mindy Greiling

NONFICTION: A former legislator shares the compelling story of her son's schizophrenia.
Protesters gathered at the Capitol to protest climate change inaction. ] LEILA NAVIDI • BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Hundred

If we wait any longer to take climate change seriously, it will be too late

Yet the Republican-led state Senate isn't taking the threat seriously.
Todd Gallagher prepares mail in ballot envelopes including an I Voted sticker Wednesday, July 29, 2020 in Minneapolis. Absentee ballots are being requ

Voters show every sign of turning out in force this year

Even if unprecedented numbers stay home while doing it.
The Minnesota Legislature met in special session Monday. Social distancing requires a small number of legislators in the House Chamber. The rest parti

One (half) cheer for the Legislature

The failure to pass the bonding bill is painful.
George Floyd's growing memorial outside Cup Foods at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue Tuesday night.

In the fight for racial equity, why did the spark catch here, now?

The demography of our city and state, and how it's changed, can bring some insight to the big question many of us are asking.
The entrance to the campus of the University of Minnesota. (Ken Wolter/Dreamstime/TNS) ORG XMIT: 1240335 ORG XMIT: MIN1809121916043526

Minnesota's higher education is facing a crisis

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual way of rebalancing budgets will put our colleges and universities at risk.

Minnesotans eager to vote as always — but not in the old way

It's up to legislators to tap the federal funding, update certain rules and bring clarity.
Minneapolis, MN 6/26/2003 Lee Munnich, of the HHH Institure has long advocated a marketing approach to sane-lane access,- here driving the sane -lane

Telework's moment of true arrival is bound to make ripples in Minnesota

The change we've been forced to make is likely to stick to some degree. And that has implications for Minnesota road funding.
Voters waited in line at the Peace United Church of Christ in Duluth's 15th precinct to cast their vote on Tuesday.

How it turned out for Minnesota to have a primary

Minnesota is not done figuring out how to do things best in total.
Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, at a news conference in 2016.

Minnesota Legislature's main event this year: the housing shortage

State Rep. Alice Hausman will be found leading the charge.
In 2010, promoters of the 2010 U.S. census held an event at the Midtown Global Market to encourage participation. The same spirit will be needed this

Excuse the pun: This census really counts for Minnesota

Federal funding and a congressional seat are in the balance for the state.
Illustration by Edel Rodriguez for the Star Tribune

Race in America: The conversation is not over

The way forward? Defend legal gains, but above all discuss, says a Minnesota civil-rights activist.

After nearly a century, has time arrived for ERA?

Every half-century or so, the quest to protect women's rights inches ahead.

Trump vs. Congress: A fundamental concern

Others can analyze the politics. I worry about the future of checks and balances.
Minnesota Independence gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner talks members of the media after voting during Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Edina

Minnesotans, don't be the spoilers in 2020

This state's voters long have supported third parties, but there's too much at risk in 2020.

Trade-war objections: You won't keep 'em down, on the farms

When a Farmers Union president speaks …
Duluth's experience requesting a sales tax boost is informative.

How cities raise money in modern-era Minnesota

Things aren't as rough as they were, but the state-local partnership needs a tuneup.
Electric car sign, charging station, green sign painted on street. Electric vehicle sign with car and plug, uploading place.

On clean energy, 'just say no' is turning into a political no-no

It's a good way to lose elections, based on the evidence from, say, western Minnesota.
Tim Flaherty

A 'just say no' status quo prevails at the State Capitol, I fear

Politics was once a means to an end. Now it's just the end.
Lt. Gov. Elect Peggy Flanagan during an interview at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday, November 15, 2018. ] RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER &#x

Time to step up for the poorest of the poor

The state's MFIP program is overdue for a boost, and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan can attest to both its value and its worthiness.
Former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher filed to run for Keith Ellison’s congressional seat. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle

Could you sell a gas tax statewide?

That's the task before MnDOT's new leader, Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Who is suited to it.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks after winning re-election during a election night event held by the Democratic Party Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in St.

Ranked choice might be right for primaries (and Klobuchar)

Amy Klobuchar is the type of candidate who might benefit from this voting method, and its use could be more than just a pipe dream.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Tom Bakk spoke at a legislative forum during the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's annual policy kickoff event Wednesday. ]

Redistricting reform can't wait; so say its advocates

The push for a nonpartisan panel to draw political maps is needed now, before the new census breeds temptation, they argue.

How to hold onto Minnesota exceptionalism? Look to the immigrants who built, and are still building, a future here

Look to the immigrants who built — and are still building — a future here.
Connie Bernardy; Minnesota District 41A State representative; DFL; 2012.myVote id: 49794 ORG XMIT: MIN2018121217381275

The near future of higher ed at the State Capitol

Let's check in with two new legislative committee leaders about the challenges they'll face.
Governor-elect Tim Walz and Lt. Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan huddled in a hallway before addressing the budget surplus in a press conference.

Circumstances thrust a critical issue on the governor-elect

It's climate change. Time is short, and the White House isn't doing the job. What can a state do? Plenty.
A long line formed at the tiny one room of Douglas Town Hall on Election Day on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, in the area of Douglas Township, Minn. The

How to make government better? You have plenty to say

And so do two leading voices on the subject who are in town. (Ranked-choice voting, anyone?)

Math doesn't add up on state Social Security tax cut

Exempting Social Security from taxes now would take an ever-bigger bite from state treasury.
FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2014, file photo, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., listens to a question in Hot Springs, Ark. Prospects for Congress passing a n

Peterson, Emmer bridge the divide of geography and party

So perhaps U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Tom Emmer have something to show us.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar arrives at the Intercontinental Hotel in St. Paul, Minn., at DFL headquarters election party on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Aaron Lavin

Presidential prospects for the 'senator next door'

The style that's won Klobuchar so much Minnesota support can transfer — and is beginning to.

Your vote against hate this year will matter

That's a mission that events at the end of this campaign season have necessitated.

Economy is humming, but many candidates are running on fear

With low jobless rate, rising incomes, pols have a window to address tough issues.

We're in the danger zone of distrust

But there's a way out. It entails building relationships — for real, not for the sake of saying so.

Climate-news highlights gulf between congressional candidates Hagedorn and Feehan

2018 campaign further widening our gender gap

How far apart are men and women? Watch midterm elections for a sign.