Laura McCallum

Laura McCallum is MPR News' managing editor for daily news.

Stories by Laura McCallum

Coleman plays prominent role in Bush campaign

Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman will play a prominent role during next week's Republican National Convention in New York. Coleman is one of a handful of GOP elected officials who will run portions of the convention. The post is just the latest recognition for Coleman, who has taken a high profile role in the Bush campaign and in Republican fundraising around the country. Coleman says the visibility is good for Minnesota, but critics say it's also good for Coleman, and that he may already be eying his next political opportunity.

After legislative session of indecision, Pawlenty carries a big stick

Gov. Pawlenty has been taking some heat the past couple of weeks for sidestepping the Legislature on major decisions. Surprisingly, most of the criticism isn't coming from Democrats, it's coming from his Republican allies. Since Pawlenty took office, he has single-handedly closed two budget gaps, fixed a couple of nagging budget problems and jump-started a stalled rail project. The governor's office says lawmakers shouldn't criticize Pawlenty if they don't like his decisions. He had to take action, the governor says, because lawmakers didn't get their work done.

Governor hearing criticism from members of his own party

Some Republican lawmakers had harsh criticism Tuesday for Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plan to jump-start the Northstar commuter rail line. The governor announced last week he was moving forward with the first phase of the Minneapolis-to-Big Lake line, using money from the Met Council, the federal government and counties. Northstar has not received legislative approval, and some lawmakers are calling the governor's plan "unethical" and "a sham."

Minnesota's senators differ on Sept. 11 report

Minnesota's two U.S. senators Friday weighed in on the the findings of the Sept. 11 Commission report. Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Mark Dayton spoke at the first congressional hearing on the report. Dayton said the report shows an utter failure by the federal government to protect American lives, and an attempt to cover up mistakes after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Coleman says he generally supports the commission's recommendations.

New 527 groups enter the political debate

A group billing itself as the largest voter mobilization project in American history plans to become a major presence in the presidential race in Minnesota this year. America Coming Together, or ACT, wants to knock on 700,000 doors in the state before Nov. 2. ACT's goal is to defeat President Bush, but legally, it can't work with the Democratic party. ACT is a 527 organization, which means it can raise unlimited amounts of money to try to elect Democrats.

Pawlenty agrees to fix city aid glitch, defender budget

Gov. Pawlenty says he'll fix two budget problems on his own, giving up his insistence that they could only be addressed in a special legislative session. One problem affects state aid to cities, the other a public defender budget shortfall. The governor says he decided to reverse course because it's unlikely there will be a special session. Until Thursday, Pawlenty had maintained that he was legally prohibited from correcting the problems.

MPR Poll: U.S. winning war on terror

One day before the scheduled release of the long-awaited Sept. 11 Commission report, a new poll shows most Minnesotans think the United States is making progress in the fight against terrorism. The Minnesota Public Radio - St. Paul Pioneer Press poll also found that about half of Minnesotans believe the terrorist group Al Qaeda did collaborate with Iraq. That's contrary to the findings of the interim report already released by the 9/11 Commission.

Every vote counts in the presidential race

Tuesday's campaign stop by President Bush in Duluth highlights the significance of Minnesota in this year's presidential race. Democrat John Kerry was here less than two weeks ago. Minnesota is considered one of the battleground states that could determine the next president. What does that mean for the campaigns? That they're competing door-to-door to identify anyone who might support their candidate -- and then trying to make sure those supporters actually vote on election day.

Final phase of Minnesota welfare reform to affect half of new applicants

A new Minnesota program that starts on Thursday is designed to help people find work before going on traditional welfare. The diversionary work program will require welfare applicants to look for work for four months. They won't get a welfare check, but they will get help with rent, food and utility bills. The Pawlenty administration calls the program the next phase in welfare reform, but some advocates for welfare recipients say it will hurt low-income Minnesotans.