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 4 weeks
ST. PAUL - Republicans want to require a photo identification card to be shown before a Minnesotan can vote. "The Voter Integrity Act of 2009 will simply serve as one more safeguard to ensuring that every Minnesotans' vote is counted fairly," said Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano. "Countless challenges and even the threat of litigation has irrevocably changed the way we as Americans conduct elections.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty is trying to tamper expectations that a federal economic stimulus package could significantly ease Minnesota's budget problems. Pawlenty said the state could receive more than $3 billion if the U.S. House version of an economic stimulus bill passes Congress and is signed by President Barack Obama. However, that version may not emerge from congressional negotiations. Even if it did, Pawlenty said, some of the funding is targeted to specific education, outdoors and infrastructure programs.
ST. PAUL -- A 2008 law change threatens farmland across the state - from the Twin Cities suburbs to land bordering lakes and rivers -- farmers Wednesday told a Minnesota House committee. The new law penalizes farmers who want to sell farmland for other uses, the farmers said. The law could backfire and convince many landowners to get rid of some of their property, farmers added, or to turn sensitive land into cropland that would get a better tax break.
ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty threatened, in a sense, Minnesota lawmakers in his State of the State speech. "One hundred years ago, John Johnson, another 48-year-old Minnesota governor, returned from the national campaign trail, stood on this very spot and called the state to unity, efficiency and investment," Pawlenty said, his recent history of campaigning to become John McCain's running mate left unsaid. "He dropped dead a few months later. "To my friends in the Legislature, you may not be so lucky.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty took the lead on the Minnesota budget dance Thursday, calling for a variety of business tax cuts while at the same time increasing education spending. But Democrats may cut in because they don't like some of the Republican's steps. Legislators said that the wish list Pawlenty presented in his State of the State speech was the beginning of a long performance. "The process is a dance," Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators face a historically large deficit, and most groups that normally would be at the Capitol with hat in hand say they realize their funding will be cut. But a few groups feel that what they do is so important that they need more state money despite a budget deficit now standing at $4.85 billion and expected to grow. Education Minnesota, the state teachers' union, is one of those groups that continues to seek more money.
ST. PAUL -- Schools save money when they combine business-office services, so Gov. Tim Pawlenty and a coalition of state legislators want to require cooperation. A bill being considered would require many school purchases to be made only from approved vendors that might provide lower prices because they buy in bulk.
ST. PAUL - The smiles and "happy new year" salutations of Tuesday's Minnesota legislative session opening day soon will turn into serious faces and money talk as legislators begin grappling with a $4.85 billion deficit. But legislators say the opening-day hugs will not turn into partisan stare-downs as has happened in the past. About the only thing on legislators' minds as they began their 2009 session was the budget deficit, a record-large one coming six years after the solution to another deficit took many of the easy solutions.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's local governments receive 30 percent of their revenue from the state, so when the state budget is sick, local governments sniffle. Now, with a massive state budget deficit, the affliction is much worse than a cold. Many say legislators must resort to major surgery to reduce local government funding flowing from the state. With a budget deficit that could top $6 billion, there is no doubt cities, counties and townships will lose state money. But at this point, no one knows if the surgery will involve a scalpel or a chain saw.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota already makes larger payments on its loans than state officials want, but many lawmakers propose borrowing still more money. And if a federal stimulus package includes money for state infrastructure, the pressure to borrow to fund public works projects will grow more. As legislators get ready for their 2009 legislative session, there is a division about whether to pass a "bonding bill" to build and repair state buildings, roads and other infrastructure.