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 -- A 39-year-old North Dakota native is the new Minnesota House Republican leader. Fellow House Republicans gave Rep. Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove 70 percent of the vote Tuesday night in picking him to replace Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall as minority leader. Seifert plans to announce in less than two weeks that he is running for governor. Rep. Randy Demmer of Hayfield was the other major candidate. Four ballots were needed before Zellers emerged the winner. Zellers takes over a caucus of 47 members out of the 134-person House.
ST. PAUL -- U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar refuses to give in to a popular president's pressure to delay a new federal transportation funding plan. "We intend to move this bill forward, this administration not withstanding," a determined Oberstar said Wednesday as congressional committee work began on a $500 billion, six-year transportation funding plan that would mean more money to rebuild highways, expand transit programs and build high-speed passenger rail lines. President Barack Obama does not want the Oberstar plan to proceed.
ST. PAUL -- A 39-year-old North Dakota native takes over as Minnesota House Republican leader. Fellow House Republicans gave Rep. Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove about 70 percent of the vote Tuesday night in picking him to replace Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall as minority leader. Seifert plans to announce in less than two weeks that he is running for governor. Rep. Randy Demmer of Hayfield was the other major candidate. Several ballots were needed before Zellers emerged the winner. Zellers takes over a caucus of 47 members out of the 134-person House.
ST. PAUL -- Katie Sieben sat behind the wheel of a shiny new car, looking ahead to a traffic light. "So I'm going to accelerate going up to the light?" she asked Todd Cook, teaching the Minnesota state senator about environmentally friendly driving. "Shoot," Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, said before Cook could respond. The light was yellow well before she hit the intersection, but she made it through before seeing red. Barely.
ST. PAUL - A rural southern Minnesotan and a Twin Cities suburban lawmaker who grew up in rural North Dakota are the main contenders to become Minnesota House Republican leader. Republicans meet tonight in St. Paul to elect a leader, with just 47 of the House's 134 members in their party. Tonight's vote is important because it sets the tone for the 2010 election, when Republicans hope to gain seats on Democratic-Farmer-Laborites. Reps.
ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty's unilateral spending cuts, designed to balance Minnesota's budget, affect the poor seeking health care, cities and counties that will lose some state aid and countless others. But the governor reported one complaint overshadows all others he has heard. It does not come from the poor or government officials.
ST. PAUL - Health-care reform due to come out of Washington this year looks a lot like what is happening in Minnesota, the state House health leader said. But Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, Thursday said he will watch Congress carefully as it tries to craft a health-care measure that has eluded federal policymakers for decades. In particular, Huntley wants to make sure federal legislation is flexible enough that Minnesota may continue with its own reforms.
ST. PAUL -- Democrats claim Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plan to cut $2.7 billion from the state budget is illegal. Democratic legislative leaders Thursday told the Republican governor's commissioners that Pawlenty is overstepping his legal authority in balancing the budget by himself. "There is some shaky legal ground to do some of the changes you are doing," House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said to Pawlenty's representatives. He called it abuse of state law. "This whole process just doesn't pass the smell test," Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, said.
Most, but not all, politicians reacting to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's unallotment plans Tuesday did not like what they saw: "In just under an hour today, Gov.