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Stephen Montemayor

Reporter | Politics and Government
Phone: 612-673-1755

Stephen Montemayor covers politics and government in Minnesota. He previously reported on federal courts and law enforcement for the Star Tribune.


A native of Kansas City, Montemayor lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two cats. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism and enjoys camping, travel and a good beer.
Recent content from Stephen Montemayor
Sen. Mark Koran, center, is the first chair of the new Legislative Commission on Cybersecurity. The bipartisan group of eight lawmakers elected Rep. K

New legislative commission begins work on studying Minnesota's cyberdefenses

Bipartisan group looking for vulnerabilities, policy ideas.
Proposed maps released by a DFL-led House panel account for population shifts in the 2020 Census.

DFLers propose new map for U.S. House seats

The proposal accounting for population shifts in the past decade faces stiff resistance from the GOP in a fight likely to end up in court.
Attorney General Keith Ellison, Governor Tim Walz and Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea listened during pardon hearings in June of 2019. The board i

Minnesota pardon board reconvenes after months-long delay

More than two dozen cases from Minnesotans seeking clemency are being considered.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison speaks on June 3, 2020, in St. Paul. On Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, he launched his campaign for a second term vir

Attorney General Keith Ellison launches bid for second term

Pandemic response, consumer and public safety factor prominently in pitch.
The State Capitol grounds in St. Paul in August during a protest against Line 3 and other pipeline projects.

Security for August State Capitol pipeline protest cost $1.6M

An organizer for the rally called the police presence in August "excessive" and said "seeing the amount of money the state spent in total is shocking now."
The White House has nominated Andrew Luger as U.S attorney for Minnesota, a post he previously held, and Metro Transit Police Chief Eddie Frizell as U

Biden nominates Andrew Luger for U.S. attorney, picks Frizell for U.S. marshal

The Metro Transit police chief would be first Black U.S. marshal in Minnesota.
Judge Sarah Wheelock

Walz appoints state Court of Appeals' first Native American judge

Sarah Wheelock will replace retiring Judge Carol Hooten.
Gov. Tim Walz, center, was joined by Rep. Dean Phillips, from left, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Angie Craig, and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Herk

Minnesota officials highlight need for more veteran mental health

Walz says state is due for new community health clinics for veterans.
Kelli Caron, center right, is pictured with her brother, Shane Richard, mother, Kris Richard, and stepfather, Brian Richard, left to right. Caron is p

Minnesota woman's plea caught in federal clemency pileup

Kelli Caron, who received a commutation from the Minnesota Board of Pardons, is testing President Joe Biden's emerging philosophy on the executive branch's power to forgive.
Lawmakers are considering a proposal to lift a law limiting growler sales at large breweries, like Castle Danger’s, pictured.

Minnesota liquor law proposals on full display in House hearing

The debate over state laws on brewery, winery and distillery operations — and alcohol sales — has ramped up the past two years.
The Biden administration said the president’s Build Back Better framework will provide a host of benefits for Minnesota, from child care and early e

White House promises array of benefits for Minnesota in latest Build Back Better framework

Minnesota Democrats largely on board, while GOP lawmakers are opposed.
Rep. Ilhan Omar is cosponsoring legislation that would create a special envoy to monitor Islamophobia and document cases.

Rep. Ilhan Omar behind legislation for new special envoy to fight Islamophobia

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., wants to help the federal government tackle Islamophobia on a global scale — drawing on longstanding efforts to track and…
Phillip Parrish, a former U.S. naval intelligence officer from Kenyon, Minn., said Friday that he was withdrawing from the Minnesota secretary of stat

Phillip Parrish, GOP secretary of state candidate, exits race

Former GOP party chair candidate said the campaign took too big a toll on his family
Sen. Mark Koran, a North Branch Republican

GOP state senator asks supporters to donate to Lindstrom family charged in Jan. 6 riot

Sen. Mark Koran, R-North Branch, calls DOJ "over bearing."
Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, is chairman of the Senate judiciary and public safety committee.

GOP-led hearing on Minnesota crime focuses on law enforcement's perspective

DFL lawmakers criticized narrow scope of hearing aimed at examining crime spikes.
Minneapolis man admits to impersonating FBI agent in phony terrorism probe

Minneapolis man admits to impersonating FBI agent in phony terrorism probe

Bernard Holmes, 66, admitted to "spoofing" phone number to look like he was calling from FBI office.
The governor asked federal immigration officials to halt deportation proceedings against Amreya Shefa, after she failed to receive a pardon for her 20

Walz asks ICE to halt deportation of woman he wanted to pardon

Amreya Shefa failed to receive a pardon for her 2014 manslaughter conviction for killing her husband in an act she described as self-defense.
Dead flowers, candles, and makeshift memorials still hung in the parking ramp where Winston Smith was shot and killed. They were expected to be remove

Winston Smith's death revived scrutiny of federal body camera policies

The Justice Department started phasing in new body camera program last month.
Kelly Jahner-Byrne of Woodbury announced her run for Minnesota Secretary of State on Monday.

New Minnesota GOP candidate for secretary of state announces campaign

Kelly Jahner-Byrne previously ran for the Minnesota House in 2020.
DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon currently faces no announced Republican challengers. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski, File)

Minnesota GOP's lone secretary of state candidate leaves party

Phillip Parrish lost bid for party chair over the weekend.
Supporters of President Donald Trump were confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6 outside the Senate Chamber. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Cene

Three Lindstrom men arrested on charges related to Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Federal prosecutors charged Robert Westbury, 62, his son, Isaac Westbury, 19, and a third man, Aaron James, 35, with crimes ranging from assaulting Capitol police officers to disorderly conduct.
Secretary of State Steve Simon, center, spoke with Gov. Tim Walz and his wife Gwen Walz after they handed him the signed education budget law outside

Plenty of GOP criticism, yet few challengers for Steve Simon

With 13 months to go until Election Day 2022, the roster of Republican challengers assembled to try to unseat Secretary of State Simon, the Democratic incumbent, is virtually empty.
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler chairs the bipartisan group tasked with planning distribution of $250 million in bonus pay for front-line workers.

Minnesota lawmakers still at odds over how to dole out $250M in pandemic pay

Republicans on Thursday offered up their proposal: $1,200 in bonus pay for nurses, first responders, corrections officers, long-term care workers and hospice providers. But Democrats criticized the plan as leaving out thousands.
Minnesota lawmakers announced a new Reproductive Freedom Caucus amid a push by conservatives for tougher abortion laws nationwide. GLEN STUBBE • STA

DFL state lawmakers form new Reproductive Freedom Caucus

New group seeking to codify abortion protections amid restrictions, court cases nationwide.
On Jan. 6, violent protesters, loyal to then-President Donald Trump, stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Minnesota Poll: Half of outstate voters doubt 2020 election

Democrats and Republicans also were far apart in their response to calling Jan. 6 an insurrection aimed at overturning the 2020 election.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke at a press conference inside the Minnesota State Capitol on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Walz, state leaders hail new safety standards for incarcerated

State leaders took a somber moment last week to honor the namesake of new legislation aimed at bettering safety standards for incarcerated Minnesotans.Gov. Tim Walz,…
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the law requiring unanimous approval by the state Board of Pardons is constitutional LEILA NAVIDI • STAR TRIB

Minn. Supreme Court halts Walz bid to reshape pardon process

In a speedy ruling, state's high court finds unanimity requirement constitutional.
The Minnesota Supreme Court is considering a case challenging how the state Board of Pardons approves requests. Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea, c

Minnesota Supreme Court considering 125-year-old pardon board statute

Governor, chief justice at odds over unanimous vote requirement.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke during a news conference on police reform in April. Four law enforcement groups — the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, Mi

Judge halts new police use of force standards amid lawsuit

Four law enforcement groups sued Gov. Tim Walz and the state of Minnesota in July after failing to persuade the Legislature to push back a deadline for training officers on the new requirements.
Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul.

Court asks state to suspend Rep. John Thompson's license

Thompson has not paid a fine or late penalties for a July 4 traffic citation.
Former Minnesota State Senator and Republican candidate for Governor, Scott Jensen spoke to attendees at Farmfest 2021. ] GLEN STUBBE • glen.stubbe@

GOP candidate Scott Jensen calling for 'civil disobedience' of COVID policies

The Chaska physician said he is drafting 'sanctuary state' bill language.
Minnesota Senate President Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, during a session last year.

Minnesota Senate GOP elects Jeremy Miller to take over as majority leader

Miller replaces Paul Gazelka, who stepped down to run for governor.
Two activists, who identify as water protectors, carry away the coals of a ceremonial fire after being removed from a state Capitol protest opposing t

Two Line 3 protests yield different police responses

One day involved working with a tribal liaison, another ended in 69 arrests.
Minnesota will maintain its AAA rating, which Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter said will “bolster our ability to continue

Minnesota keeps top AAA financial rating

Gov. Tim Walz called the news "a testament to our strong overall fiscal position and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Former U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger is expected to be nominated by the White House to return to his former job. DAVID JOLES • STARTRIBUNE

Sources: Andrew Luger on track to return as U.S. attorney for Minnesota

The FBI is conducting a final background check on former U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger to return to the job he held from 2014 to 2017, according to multiple sources.
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea asked questions during oral arguments in a case before the court.

Leading judiciary through COVID has been toughest task for Chief Justice Gildea

Gildea now is Minnesota's longest-serving chief justice since Oscar Knutson held the seat from 1964 to 1973.
Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline project is 90% complete across Minnesota. RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII • STAR TRIBUNE file

Omar, McCollum join state DFLers asking Biden to stop Line 3

State, federal lawmakers sent a letter to the White House Monday seeking a halt to the pipeline project.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell spoke to reporters in June outside federal court in Washington, D.C.

Minnesota judge orders transfer of Mike Lindell countersuits to D.C.

Lindell, MyPillow face $1.3B in defamation claims in D.C.
A worker earlier this year removed some of the 2,300 feet of chain link fence that had protected the State Capitol since the civil unrest of 2020.

Water protectors opposing Enbridge pipeline criticize State Capitol fence, police presence ahead of large Wednesday rally

The Capitol will be closed to the public until Saturday, and roads will be closed around the building.
Secretary of State Steve Simon.

Minnesota secretary of state helps create national postelection audit guidelines

Steve Simon said Minnesota already practices each of the recommendations.
Tim Gasner of Keller Fence, cut, rolled, and carried away some of the 2300 feet of chain link fence that has protected the State Capitol for the last

Security fence to return to Minnesota State Capitol next week

State Public Safety Department citing anticipated events that could draw 'thousands.'
State Auditor Julie Blaha released her office’s annual report on property seized by Minnesota law enforcement.

Minnesota auditor: Forfeiture report proves change was needed

Julie Blaha cited report as evidence supporting new limits on seizing property worth less than $1,500.
Anton Lazzaro

Sex trafficking case puts spotlight on Lazzaro's fast rise in Minnesota GOP

30-year-old donor forged close ties with state party chair Jennifer Carnahan.
The jail informant who testified against Michael Hansen avoided prison for drug charges in exchange for helping convict Hansen, who was later exonerat

Limits on jail witnesses part of push to undo wrongful convictions

Prosecutors must disclose their use of informants.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison launched the conviction review unit on Aug. 3. The unit, one of just seven in the country that operates state

Keith Ellison's new conviction review unit looking at Myon Burrell case

Burrell's case has been singled out by Ellison's office as demonstrating the need for its conviction review unit. Yet it does not meet the criteria for the types of applications the new group has vowed to prioritize.
Keith Ellison

Attorney General Keith Ellison launches statewide initiative to review convictions

Ellison wants the new office to eventually study unjust sentencings as well.
Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul.

Rep. John Thompson's apology leads to ethics complaint dismissal

Rep. Eric Lucero filed complaint after Thompson called him a racist during floor debate.
Rep. John Thompson

Rep. Thompson won't step down, wife denies abuse allegations

Rep. John Thompson said he will not resign amid reports of previous domestic abuse allegations that his wife and a group of supporters denied in a news conference outside the State Capitol.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Rep. Ilhan Omar helps lead call for State Department to fight Islamophobia

Group cites a rise in attacks against Muslims worldwide.
Rep. John Thompson

State House ethics hearing involving Rep. John Thompson gets delayed

Committee Chair Jim Davnie, a DFL representative from Minneapolis, granted Thompson's request to postpone his own remarks until he can have a lawyer with him.
Minnesota’s police licensing board approved new model policies on officer misconduct and protest response, including limiting when law enforcement c

Police licensing board OKs new policies on misconduct, protests

But under its current rules, the board can only enforce violations by police chiefs and sheriffs and not individual law enforcement officers.
DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman said she will wait until court proceedings involving Rep. John Thompson wrap up before any further action against th

Hortman: No action against Rep. Thompson until court cases resolved

Jury found Thompson guilty of misdemeanor in 2019 incident at North Memorial Health Hospital.
Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, spoke about his work on police reform on July 6, 2021, outside the governor’s residence in St. Paul.

Governor puts new pressure on Rep. Thompson to resign

Thompson, a first-term Democrat, challenges the authenticity of police reports of multiple domestic violence accusations.
Frequent Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald is asking the high court to reconsider its decision last month to indefinitely suspend her law lic

Michelle MacDonald asks Supreme Court for new hearing on law license suspension

Perennial Supreme Court candidate says justices ignored 'restorative prayer circle' process she participated in with judge.
Minnesota is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by law enforcement lobbying groups challenging police use-of-force standards passed last year.

Minnesota seeks dismissal of legal challenge to new police standards

Law enforcement lobbying groups sued earlier this month, arguing the 2020 use-of-force changes are unconstitutional.
State Rep. John Thompson was ticketed during a traffic stop, and later described the encounter as an example of being profiled by police because of hi

St. Paul police chief disputes DFL Rep. John Thompson's racial profiling claim

Thompson was ticketed during a traffic stop on July 4.
Minnesota and other states have reached a $4.3 billion settlement with OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Minnesota to get $50M for opioid crisis from Purdue Pharma, Sackler family

Historic $4.3 billion settlement reached after years of litigation nationwide.
Families who have lost loved ones to police violence in Minnesota attended a news conference on the proposed public safety bill on last week at the St

Police reform backers to take protest to homes of legislators

Activists voiced their displeasure with Democrats and Republicans alike over what a public safety bill they called more friendly to police than focused on accountability.
State Auditor Julie Blaha says the new laws will cut down on state seizures of vehicles and property not involved in crimes.

Changes to Minnesota's civil asset forfeiture laws pass Legislature

The new policies mark a victory for State Auditor Julie Blaha, who made reshaping Minnesota's asset forfeiture laws an early priority.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke with members of the media after he signed a $52 billion state budget bill Thursday.

Law enforcement groups sue over new use-of-force standards

In the suit, filed against Gov. Tim Walz and the state of Minnesota, they claim that the new law is unconstitutional and want extra time to train officers.
Gov. Tim Walz’s gave Dylan Nguyen, 9, a fist bump after he signed a $52 billion state budget bill. Dylan’s mom, Hue Nguyen, is the deputy chief of

Here's where Minnesota Legislature landed on 10 top issues in special session

From taxes to school funding to police reform, here's what the Legislature did — or didn't — accomplish.
Michelle MacDonald waited in the back of the convention hall before the convention debated whether she would be allowed to speak as the Minnesota GOP

MacDonald says she will appeal state Supreme Court's suspension of her law license

The court said the penalty was appropriate for McDonald's repeated misconduct that continued even after a previous license suspension and probation.
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

In special session, the divided Legislature must finish a two-year state budget and agree on other key policy issues.
Sens. Paul Gazelka, left, and Warren Limmer in the Senate chambers before debating the Public Safety & Judiciary bill on Tuesday.

Lawmakers close gaps in Minnesota's sex assault laws with public safety bill

Tucked inside this year's public safety spending bill are laws to widen the definition of "mentally incapacitated" to include voluntary intoxication, cancel the statute of limitations on charging sex crimes, and criminalize extorting victims into sex.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Walz plans end to COVID emergency powers

The plan to end the emergency, in effect since March 2020, came after the administration struck a deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on monthly emergency food payments for Minnesota residents.
Governor Tim Walz spoke at a press conference inside the Minnesota State Capitol on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Walz takes executive action on public safety and police reform

Walz said he would use $15 million in COVID-19 relief money to pay for community violence prevention grants, increase data sharing from the state's police licensing board and order state-level law enforcement agencies to share footage of deadly police encounters with relatives of those killed within five days.
Attorney General Keith Ellison is asking the Legislature to fund 11 new prosecutors to build up his office’s criminal division. SHARI GROSS • STAR

Ellison's latest bid to rebuild his office's criminal division stalled in Legislature

Attorney General says his office is struggling to keep up with requests from smaller counties for help. Police prosecutions add further strain.
Attorney General Keith Ellison, Gov. Tim Walz and Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea listened during a Board of Pardons hearing.

State pardon board meeting scrapped amid discord

A simmering dispute between Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea prompted the postponement of the state pardon board's first scheduled meeting of the year. Walz expressed disappointment at Gildea's "refusing" to attend.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, center, at the White House signing ceremony.

Tina Smith helped make Juneteenth a national holiday

Smith envisioned the victory as a possible momentum builder in other efforts to expand and protect voting rights and pass new police reforms.
Freshman Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, often draws on his personal experience bearing witness to inequity while growing up Black on the south si

Freshman Minnesota legislator draws on personal experience for police reform

DFL Rep. Cedrick Frazier has quickly found a voice in Minnesota's halls of power as a key negotiator.
For the 21st time, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, called for a vote to end the state of emergency on Monday, June 14, 2021, in St. Paul.

Minnesota legislators reach deal on eviction moratorium

The special session was called automatically as the governor extended his emergency powers.
Gov. Tim Walz spoke at a news conference with community leaders and DFL lawmakers regarding police reform proposals.

Ahead of Minnesota Legislature special session, police reform lacks 'progress'

There are signs of agreement on some of the bills that emerged after the Brooklyn Center police shooting of Daunte Wright this spring.
Frontiersman Sports in St. Louis Park is among Minnesota stores seeing an increased demand for guns and ammunition.

3 young adults sue over state's 21 age minimum for gun carry permits

Federal lawsuit claims that state age limit for handgun carry permits is unconstitutional.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Omar leads call to expand federal investigation of policing in Minn.

Nearly two dozen Democratic elected officials are asking the Justice Department to expand its review of the Minneapolis Police Department to include seven other state and local police agencies.
Minnesota businessman Mike Lindell is suing two election machine manufacturers as part of his ongoing legal battle over debunked claims that the 2020

In new lawsuit, Lindell claims he could lose $2B because of 'conspiracy'

Latest suit is in response to defamation suit filed earlier by Dominion Voting Systems.