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 1 month
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.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators could pass some of the biggest bills yet this year on Monday, but budget work awaits more information from Washington. Senators expect to debate a $367 million public works bill Monday. The bill easily floated through two committee hearings, and is expected to find equally easy passage in the full Senate. The House, however, continues to work on its equivalent measure, so no one knows when the measure -- known as the bonding bill --will be sent to Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Lori Johnson was a fitting final U.S. Senate trial witness because, like many other issues in the case, she left unanswered the main question attorneys asked. The Clay County auditor-treasurer could offer no reason why five ballots disappeared from Oakport Township, just north of Moorhead, after the November election. In a way, those five ballots represent the entire 7-week-old Senate trial, with both candidates looking for ballots they can count.
ST. PAUL - Survivors of severely injured veterans could receive home property tax breaks under a bill Minnesota legislators are examining. "Most of these are senior citizens," Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, said about people who would be eligible. Juhnke's bill would allow spouses of severely injured veterans to continue to receive tax breaks after the veterans die. Current law eliminates the breaks within a year of death. "It's a terrible time to be losing a property tax break a year after losing a disabled spouse," Juhnke said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators considered spending $26 million for flood prevention projects Tuesday, a day when much of the state was buried in snow that could melt into spring flood waters. Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, shepherded the bill through his Senate Capital Investment Committee Tuesday night, the first action on a $367.4 million plan to fix state-owned buildings, build a few new ones and do other public works projects that legislators say will put Minnesotans to work at a time when unemployment is soaring.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators blasted an idea to take $95 million a year from Twin Cities transit programs to fund school bus programs around the state, but leaned toward considering school buses as part of the transit system. "Education needs to get their own money," Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, told bill sponsor Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar. However, several senators in the Transportation Committee on Tuesday said they liked the idea of combining school bus and transit programs -- or at least investigating the possibility. For instance, Sen.
ST. PAUL -- The recession means local governments have less money available to spend, but some Minnesota lawmakers say reducing things the state requires local officials to do can save money. A House local government committee Monday night approved a bill by Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, that would eliminate holding an annual truth in taxation hearing and allow counties to adopt four-day workweeks. It would establish a commission to review other mandates.
ST. PAUL - Rural lawmakers with resorts in their areas defeated an attempt to allow school districts to start classes before Labor Day. The bill failed in a Monday 13-11 House Finance Committee vote, but like most Minnesota legislative bills it still could come back to life. "This isn't the right time to do it," Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said, adding the economy already is hurting many small, rural businesses. "We don't need to lose any more businesses." Rukavina, who has no resorts in his district, said the move would have a devastating effect in rural areas. The bill by Rep.