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
- 2 years 12 months
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans should find absentee voting easier this year than in the controversial 2008 U.S. Senate election, when counting stretched for months after the November vote. The House passed a bill 131-2 and the Senate gave it tentative approval by voice vote Monday, with final approval expected today. "It will enhance election integrity," Sen.
ST. PAUL - A proposal to lift Minnesota's moratorium on new nuclear power plants is in limbo after a Senate committee amended it with what its sponsor called a poison pill. The Senate Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee on a 9-6 vote Thursday tacked an amendment on the bill with a series of requirements the state and power companies must follow before a nuclear power plant could be built. The requirements, suggested by Sen. John Doll, DFL-Burnsville, included not allowing a new power plant until the federal government provides a place to store nuclear waste.
ST. PAUL -- A newly revised public works funding bill that would spend $986 million on projects across Minnesota is firm, set in stone, ready to pass both the House and Senate in the next few days. Maybe. Chief legislative negotiators on the issue said late Thursday afternoon that they had done their best to build a public works bill, funded by the state selling bonds, and a deal they just made would be their final work on the issue. While their proposal would spend far more than the $685 million Gov.
ST. PAUL -- It is time for Minnesota House and Senate leaders to get on the same page, the Senate's chief public works negotiator says. Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, went into a late-Wednesday afternoon meeting expecting negotiators to agree on a framework of a new public works funding plan, but his House counterpart said after the meeting that negotiators have yet to agree on what should be in the bill. That was news to Langseth, who said the two sides were within $5 million out of a nearly $1 billion measure. Langseth said he sees the next step as getting leaders involved. Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's current budget picture is a bit brighter than three months ago, but the next budget could be the state's biggest-ever financial challenge. The current budget is $944 million short, state officials announced Tuesday, but depending upon what legislators and the governor do in the next few months the budget that begins in mid-2011 could end up with an $8 billion hole. The best scenario for the 2011-12 budget is a $2.8 billion deficit. In early December, those same state officials predicted a $1.2 billion budget in the current $31 billion, two-year budget.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House upheld Gov.
ST. PAUL -- In some people's minds, there is a disconnect between legislators negotiating with the governor while at the same time on the same bill overriding his veto. And a maneuver never used before, holding back an already-passed bill so the governor does not veto it, could be seen as confrontational. That is the way the 2010 Minnesota legislative session has gone; it's been a wild ride. The session begins its second month on Thursday, two days after lawmakers and Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Further state budget cuts will mean longer waits for cases to go through Minnesota's court system, judicial leaders say, and small counties will be hardest hit. For years, courts in the least populated counties have received more state funding per capita than larger counties. But on Thursday State Court Administrator Sue Dosal told the Senate Judiciary Budget Division that is ending. She said the courts no longer can afford to give extra money to small counties. That could mean some counties' court offices would be open only when a judge is there.
ST. PAUL -- Farm-area legislators fear that agriculture programs are being cut more than other departments as Minnesota officials look to balancing the state budget. And they do not like being left in the dark, as they claim is happening as the Pawlenty administration looks at further reductions. Facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit, Gov.
ST. PAUL -- County governments would take over most state road maintenance work, state patrol duties and could levy a half-cent sales tax under a plan they unveiled Tuesday. But some county leaders do not like the proposal. It is a 10-point plan designed to "ensure that Minnesotans get better results from government," Clay County Commissioner Jon Evert said, which could be a starting point to major changes. The Association of Minnesota Counties, of which Evert is president, claims the plan would save the state nearly $1 billion per two-year budget.