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.
- Member for
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ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans are fighting flood waters along the Red River and elsewhere while their lawmakers are fighting about the cost of preventing prevent future floods. The fight spilled over into other areas, too, as House leaders Monday introduced a much smaller public works bill than senators passed earlier this month. Rep. Alice Hausman, chairwoman of the House public works funding committee, said the proposal "is a taking-care-of-basics bill." The St.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Legislature is looking for ways to help unemployed workers, a task made tougher given its own economic challenges. As the ranks of out-of-work Minnesotans swell, legislators say more should be done to assist people without a paycheck. "We're trying to do whatever we can to help people get through this downturn and get people back to work and get them back on the benefits they're used to," said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans can use computers to find out that their governor's office spent $60 at Saint Agnes Baking Co. for "supplies." Dig a little deeper and a computer user can find it was for "food," but that's about it. Still, learning about the $60 expenditure to a firm that claims "there's nothing ordinary about Saint Agnes' bread" is more than Minnesotans could have done a couple of days ago. Gov. Tim Pawlenty Thursday announced launch of a new Transparency and Accountability Project for Minnesota Web site at www.mmb.state.mn.us/tap .
ST. PAUL - Students across Minnesota suffer bullying in school, a leading cause of suicide, say backers of a bill requiring schools to write new anti-bullying policies. The Senate education committee Tuesday approved the measure on a split voice vote telling schools to write policies prohibiting "harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence" related to a student's race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age or physical characteristics.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota counties should be able to raise the sales tax instead of property taxes to make up for state aid cuts, the two state House tax chairmen say. "It provides options, flexibility to counties," said Rep. Paul Marquart, House property and local option sales tax chairman and a Dilworth Democrat. The bill proposed Monday by Marquart and House Tax Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, would give county commissioners authority to raise taxes on sales within their county by a half percent, with about half of the collections required to be used to reduce property taxes.
ST. PAUL -- A half-dozen years of fighting appears near an end for Douglas County's Central Lakes Region Sanitary District. A bill that got its start Monday night would disband the district after disputes over its cost and structure. A House subcommittee unanimously approved the measure, with no one speaking against it. "We are very happy," said Keith Baldwin, who watched the proceedings with his wife, Kate. "This has been our goal since June of '08." Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators are nearly 11 weeks into their 2009 session, but only now are getting a look at outlines of their main task this year -- writing a two-year budget. Lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty have eight weeks left before the mandatory May 18 adjournment deadline to turn those outlines into a fully crafted two-year budget that paves over a $4.6 billion deficit. House and Senate Democratic-Farmer-Laborite leaders, who control the Legislature, have announced separate budget plans.
ST. PAUL -- Federal officials have until year's end to decide whether gasoline may contain more than the common 10 percent ethanol. If that happens, ethanol supporters promise thousands of new jobs for the Minnesota economy and another step toward national energy independence. "We are not going to kneel at the altar of big oil in this country forever," said Doug Peterson, a former state lawmaker and current Minnesota Farmers union president. A coalition of ethanol producers, Growth Energy, earlier this month submitted to the U.S.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty's newest budget plan increases education, courts and other spending, despite a worsening economy. And he still opposes raising state taxes, although Democrats say his policies would force nearly $2 billion higher local property taxes. News early this month that the budget slipped $2 billion deeper into deficit was more than offset by federal economic stimulus money, so his new budget plan differs relatively little from his first proposal.
ST. PAUL - Rural lawmakers afraid that local firms could lose business helped defeat a proposal to encourage school districts to work together. Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, said he fears the bill could force schools to buy from someone other than local businesses. "There is a feeling between a community and a school district that is very special and very important." The bill lost 33-31, but its supporters say it will return before the legislative session ends this spring. Sen.