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 legislators met almost 19 weeks with one overriding job: Balance the state budget. They left the Capitol for the year Monday night, leaving Gov. Tim Pawlenty to finish the job, although in the 2009 legislative session's final three hours Democrats drew up a new $1 billion tax increase similar to one the governor already vetoed. A last-minute flurry of activity failed to nail down an overall state budget agreement, a failure Pawlenty said means he will cut spending on his own.
ST. PAUL - Flood prevention and recovery projects will be fully funded, but Gov. Tim Pawlenty trimmed a public works funding bill, saying legislators want to spend too much. The bill originally proposed spending $361 million, with $300 million coming from funds the state would borrow.
ST. PAUL -- Money talk became emotional Sunday as Minnesota representatives rejected overriding a veto that ends a state-funded health program for the state's poorest and sickest residents. Tears were plentiful in a hushed House chamber during touching stories of near-death and poverty-laced childhood experiences during a debate on Gov. Tim Pawlenty's $381 million veto of the General Assistance Medical Care program. The veto would eliminate the program in 2011, ending state-funded health care for up to 35,000 poor, childless adult Minnesotans.
ST. PAUL -- Roots of the word "allot" go back centuries in English, French and German languages. "Unallot," on the other hand, hardly can be found in a dictionary. But it is the most popular -- or unpopular, depending upon a person's political persuasion -- in the Minnesota Capitol these days. When Republican Gov.
ST. PAUL - The Minnesota legislative session could come to a smooth end if the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor could agree on a way to raise $1 billion. There is no sign that is about to happen. On Tuesday night, the costliest spending bills and revenue to fund them remained stumbling blocks to ending this year's session by Monday's constitutional deadline. But legislative leaders were determined to finish the outstanding budget bills - even without Gov. Tim Pawlenty's acceptance - and vote on them in what promises to be a marathon session today.
ST. PAUL -- Rep. Paul Marquart told fellow House-Senate tax negotiators that Jackson County, Minn., was named after territorial legislator Henry Jackson. "That's valuable information," Sen. Tom Bakk deadpanned, before informing the committee: "I spent a summer working for St. Louis County looking for old monuments." It is not exactly the conversation expected a week before the state constitution requires the year's legislative session to end -- at a time when lawmakers still must solve a $4.6 billion deficit as they write a $33 billion, two-year budget.
ST. PAUL -- Annette and Brian Swanson's son has been missing for almost a year, but on Thursday they paused from their search to watch a ceremony designed to help other Minnesotans. The couple and their daughter, Jamine, unsuccessfully held back tears as Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a bill forcing law enforcement agencies to quickly act on reports of missing young adults. "This is a bittersweet moment for us," Annette Swanson said.
ST. PAUL -- Some American Indians threaten to stop efforts to build a pair of northern Minnesota oil pipelines. Native American activist Clyde Bellecourt on Wednesday said Indian pipeline opponents "definitely" will attempt to block construction any way they can. "We have our rights..." said Bellecourt, an American Indian Movement founder, "particularly when it is going to pollute our land." Environmentalists and Indian efforts to derail the pipeline project have failed to stop construction so far as Minnesota utility regulators and the courts have rejected their claims.
ST. PAUL - The House gave final passage to Brandon's Law, a bill requiring faster police response when young adults go missing. The measure passed 131-0 Tuesday, sending it to the governor, who is expected to sign it. Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, promoted the bill after one of his constituents, Brandon Swanson, disappeared. The bill requires law enforcement officers to take missing persons reports immediately and begin an investigation when there are circumstances that indicate the person may be in danger. Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's economic development programs fall victim to the state budget deficit. "We cut, we cut, we cut," Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said. "We can't create jobs when we are cutting, but we did the best that we could. ... I wish I had a lot better bill, but I had to cut." The Senate voted to cut economic development funding 38-28 Monday night. The House did the same on Tuesday, 74-57. In both cases, some majority Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the measure.