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
- 3 years 6 months
ST. PAUL -- Nuclear power. Mining. Regulations. Duck season. Those and more issues will be debated in Minnesota legislative environmental committees run by Republicans during the session that begins Jan. 4. The House and Senate committees likely will feature less tree hugging and more business hugging than those run by Democratic-Farmer-Laborites in the past. "We are going to discuss some things that they didn't discuss," said Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Gov.-elect Mark Dayton wants the state to borrow $1 billion for public works construction projects around the state. He should not get his heart set on it. "We are so diametrically opposed," said Rep. Larry Howes, House chairman of the committee that would send projects to Democrat Dayton. "Someone has to give." The Walker Republican, not always in lockstep with his party leaders, indicated that he is not ready to give. "We will say, obviously, we are not going to have a bonding bill," Howes said of a public works bill financed by the state selling bonds.
ST. PAUL -- Two southwest Minnesota lawmakers will spearhead rural interests when the 2011 Legislature convenes at noon Jan. 4. Sen.-elect Doug Magnus of Slayton and Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota grew by 384,446 people in the past decade, but 15,000 is a more important number. Minnesota beat North Carolina by 15,000 people to keep its eight U.S. House seats. Had 15,000 fewer Minnesotans filled out their census forms last spring, the state would be faced with figuring out how to draw congressional district lines for just seven House seats. District lines still will be redrawn in the next year to fulfill the one person, one vote federal requirement.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants federal aid for farmers in four Minnesota counties after a rough weather year. In a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Pawlenty Monday sought a disaster declaration for Chippewa, Renville, Wright and Freeborn counties. "A secretarial declaration will allow affected farmers access to the U.S.
ST. PAUL -- The most significant federal tax bill in years passed Congress, and produced strange political bedfellows. Who would have imagined that conservative Tea Party star U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann would side with liberals Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum against a tax measure? It may have been just a little less of a surprise that conservative John Kline and liberal Jim Oberstar sided together. Minnesota's senators, both Democrats, voted for the bill keeping the Bush-era tax cuts in place, although they held their noses while doing so.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Democratic Gov.-elect Mark Dayton and Republican Senate leaders agree on the need to reduce the time it takes for businesses and farmers to get state permits, but differ on building a new Vikings football stadium. A rare, if not unique, meeting with the two top GOP senators and Dayton was more of a get-to-know-you session than one where deals were made. "A very helpful meeting," incoming Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch of Buffalo called the Thursday gathering in her Capitol office.
ST. PAUL -- Mark Dayton already has departed from current Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's ways. While Pawlenty's staff is male-dominated, the first key appointments in the Dayton administration are all women, mostly those who worked on his campaign or transition staffs. Tina Flint Smith will be his chief of staff, the person who usually is the gatekeeper in the governor's office. She was a senior Obama campaign advisor in 2008, and held high positions in Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota; Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's office; Walter Mondale's 2002 U.S.
ST. PAUL -- Mark Dayton made one promise, in particular, hundreds of times in two years campaigning to become Minnesota's governor. It seldom differed much from what he said last January: "I promise that I will increase state funding for K-12 public education in real dollars every year I'm governor. No exceptions, no excuses." That was then, this is now: "I will do my utmost." What changed from "no exceptions, no excuses" to doing his "utmost?" Political and fiscal reality. The Democrat had been governor-elect only a couple of hours when he began to back away from campaign rhetoric.
ST. PAUL -- There is no doubt the election is over: Democrat Mark Dayton, Minnesota's governor-elect, and Republican Tim Pawlenty, who holds the office until Jan. 3, sounded like old pals Thursday after they met privately and before Pawlenty and his wife showed Dayton and his sons around the governor's residence. "Peaceful transition of democracy is a wonderful thing," Pawlenty said, pledging to give Dayton and his staff all the help needed to assume office. The most substantial agreement was about Dayton's pick for transportation commissioner, incumbent Tom Sorel.