Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Legislature votes on a proposal to legalize gay marriage are drawing near after a Monday night committee action handed the bill to the full House. The House Ways and Means Committee decided on a divided voice vote to move the bill along to what could be a historic vote this week. There was no debate during a 10-minute meeting. A Senate committee is expected to vote on a similar measure this morning, opening the way to a full Senate vote. Gov. Mark Dayton says he will sign the bill. Legislative leaders have not announced when they would hold votes.
HAMEL -- Jeff Johnson tried to make peace as last year's Minnesota Republican convention split into two factions, and now looks to bridge that gap and more as he launches a run for governor. The Detroit Lakes native announced Sunday he is running for governor in next year's election. In making his announcement in Hamel, he became the second major GOP candidate to say he will challenge Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's minimum wage likely will rise after the House voted 68-62 Friday to increase it to $9.50 an hour, but the question is how high it will go. The House voted to raise the minimum wage paid by large employers, gradually increasing it to $9.50 an hour in two years, and allow it to rise up to 2.5 percent a year after that. "Historically, Minnesota has been a state of high productivity ..." said bill sponsor Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley.
ST. PAUL -- Phil Norgaard uttered words seldom heard in the meeting-filled Minnesota Capitol: "I can't wait to get to some meetings." The Fond du Lac American Indian Reservation human services director Tuesday had just been named to the MNSure board, which will govern a new health insurance marketplace, and he wanted to get to work. Dr. Kathryn Duevel of Willmar also was eager to get started, taking on "a big responsibility" of making sure people with a "diversity of needs" all have access to good health care coverage. Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators passed a tax plan 35-31 Monday -- eventually. It took two tries, but they moved the bill forward, nearly two hours after it initially failed 34-32 with seven Democrats voting no.The second vote set the stage for legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton to hammer out a final budget plan. The Senate tax bill, sponsored by Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, would raise income taxes on the top bracket. It also would lower the sales tax rate to 6 percent while expanding what is taxed to more items such as clothing, auto repairs and digital downloads.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House likely will approve a minimum wage increase later this week, after a committee Monday expanded the bill's reach by doubling state-required parental leave for a new child. Under the amended measure by Rep Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, employers would be required to grant 12-week leaves after a birth or adoption. The House Ways and Means Committee tacked the provision onto Winkler's bill that aims to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour in 2015 from today's $6.15.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota already is on track to establish a new way for its residents to buy health insurance, and now legislators are poised to change how the state takes care of its elderly, disabled and poor. Senators debated late Thursday their plan to spend $11.2 billion in the next two years for health care, which is second only to public school funding in the $38 billion state budget. The plan by Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, builds on the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators joined the House on Thursday night in voting to eliminate a law requiring students to pass a test before graduating high school. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor education bill, spending nearly $15.7 billion in the next two years, passed 35-28 after Republicans refused to vote for 10 minutes when Senate President Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, did not call on two GOP members seeking to speak.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota state representatives were prepared to approve a health-care spending bill late Monday or early today without knowing how it would affect hospitals around the state. Highlighting debate was an amendment by Rep.