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
- 1 year 8 months
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's getting to be the middle of summer and you still need to find that perfect vacation destination. You cannot afford $4 a gallon for gasoline for that Yellowstone trip you wanted. Look closer. Look at the largest metropolitan area in the Upper Midwest. Minneapolis, St. Paul and environs are much more than the Mall of America. The cities feature more ethnic diversity than any other Upper Midwest destination, there is a theater or museum everywhere you turn, and it would be hard to find an urban area with more outdoors recreation.
ST. PAUL -- Legislative negotiators declared they have all but settled outstanding issues remaining in the 2008 session Friday night, expecting a full deal to follow soon balancing the state budget and lowering property taxes for at least some Minnesotans. "We are very nearly done," House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said. Republican and Democratic leaders said they should not need much more negotiating time with GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but they could not meet with him for a few hours Friday night when he spoke to a Wisconsin political event.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's top politicians could be excused if they are bleary-eyed today; after all, they pored over spreadsheets packed with numbers for much of Wednesday. The numbers show how property tax relief proposals by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Democrats who control the Legislature would affect Minnesotans.
ST. PAUL -- Torrey Westrom lost his eyesight, but survived a traffic accident when he was 16 and not wearing a seat belt. Marty Seifert always buckles up, and credits that to saving his life when he was 19 and his car rammed another vehicle that ran a stop sign. Despite their differing experiences, the two conservative Republican state representatives drew the same conclusion on a provision to allow law enforcement officers to stop vehicles with occupants not wearing belts. They strongly oppose it.
ST. PAUL -- Pawlenty administration officials and legislators paved over a pothole that prevented agreement on highway safety issues Wednesday, but a transportation bill containing those issues faces a likely rough road today when representatives debate a strict seatbelt provision. A House-Senate conference committee retrieved a bill it earlier had approved so that it could remove a provision that troubled Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- a requirement that all children and motor vehicle passengers up to age 8 use child restraint systems.
ST. PAUL -- A third of Minnesota homeowners would pay lower property taxes under a bill that appeared on its way to passing the House Monday night. However, in order to pay for those property tax cuts, many other Minnesotans would pay higher income taxes. The bill also stops businesses from enrolling in the state's top rural economic development program. The measure differs from one already passed by the Senate and a proposal from Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
ST. PAUL -- Two weeks remain in the Minnesota Legislature's 2008 session, so it is time for legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Pawlenty to begin serious negotiations. Those talks begin late Saturday morning, centering on how to plug a $935 million state budget deficit. Regardless of the success Saturday's talks produce, a flurry of activity will come early next week as many House-Senate conference committees face a Monday deadline to wrap up their work. Pawlenty-legislative leader meetings may need to continue next week.
ST. PAUL -- A mega-airline could be a mega-problem or a mega-opportunity for the Upper Midwest. It all depends upon who analyzes a planned merger that would create the world's largest airline. "Fewer flights, more expensive flights, more expensive airplanes and more stops in between." That is the summary of a planned Northwest Airlines-Delta Air Lines merger by Alfie Marcus,professor of strategic management and organization at the University of Minnesota.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans facing home foreclosure may attend workshops with lenders to work out their financial problems. However, Gov. Tim Pawlenty won't go as far as others and mandate such meetings. Foreclosure counseling workshops already are available, but Pawlenty on Monday announced an expansion as the state works with the private Minnesota Home Ownership Center. Workshops are scheduled in the Twin Cities area, and Pawlenty announced they will be added in Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans are beginning to hear directly from state officials what a government shutdown could mean to them. More than 600,000 Minnesotans are opening letters from the Department of Human Services this week warning that their health-care and other benefits could stop if the state runs out of money on July 1. Gov.