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
- 4 years 3 months
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton puts the need for Minnesota to fund public works projects up there with flood fighting. The reason public works projects, funded by the state selling bonds, are so important is because they could put thousands of people to work, the Democratic governor said. "They are in emergency conditions," he said of the jobless. In recent days, Dayton has renewed his push to invest $1 billion in public works projects ranging from new trails to fixing university roofs.
ST. PAUL -- Republicans say their proposals to change Minnesota's environmental policies are needed reform, while many environmentalists say they would harm the state's natural resources. The Republican-led House and Senate passed their outdoors bills on a mostly party-line basis, and the bills now await negotiations to work out differences between the two bills, and probable involvement by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
ST. PAUL -- A proposal to build a new Vikings stadium is not ready for prime time, the Minnesota House speaker says. In a Friday meeting with reporters, House and Senate leaders repeatedly refused to back a proposal, or reject it, to build a professional football stadium funded in part by new sports-related taxes. Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said he told bill sponsor Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, that the effort needs a local government partner and a stadium location before it is ready for serious consideration. Lanning and Sen.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Senate wants to divert some education funding to help children read by third grade, but critics do not like how the plan takes money from other needs. Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, said that the education budget bill's aim is to "put a laser focus on reading." Overall, the bill would spend about $14 billion in the next two years, the largest chunk of the $34 billion state budget. The state's general education payments would rise $50 per student each of the next two years under the Republican bill, adding $133 million to school districts.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers voted to cut $300 million from college and university spending as they craft a state budget while plugging a $5 billion deficit. Opponents of the Republican-written bill said some campuses are threatened and up to 1,500 higher education workers could lose their jobs if the bill becomes law. Bills passing the House and Senate Tuesday set a $2.5 billion two-year budget for state-run colleges and universities. That is down from $2.8 billion in the current budget. Senators passed their bill 37-27; representatives passed it 69-60.
ST. PAUL -- Democratic lawmakers fear a bill the House passed Monday night is the beginning of the end of state aid sent to local governments. With Republicans providing most of the votes, representatives approved the bill 73-59 lowering state aid and also cutting income taxes. Republicans rejected attempts to restore local government aid payments. "I believe this bill will end Local Government Aid as we know it," said Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota should sell walnut trees to help the state's budget, a state legislator suggests. Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, convinced a committee to amend an outdoors funding bill to include his idea to sell black walnut and other trees in southeast Minnesota's Frontenac and Whitewater state parks. The lawmaker said the walnut tree is the most valuable in the state, but could not estimate how much the state would receive if the action was taken.
ST. PAUL -- The state Emergency Operations Center opened today as flooding begins in southern Minnesota, with problems expected to move north in coming weeks. Up to 150 people from state, federal and private agencies will man the St. Paul center until floodwaters recede. While spring EOC operations have become common as floods now are an annual occurrence, this year is different in magnitude. Forty to 50 counties are expected to be affected by flooding this year, said Deputy Director Wade Setter of Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Legislature is racing toward a self-imposed Friday budget deadline amid protesters fearing Wisconsin-type anti-union laws, Republicans bucking their party chairman by proposing racinos and key lawmakers saying their budget plans will not be finished by Friday. "Welcome to Phase One of a yet-to-be-determined number of phases, I fear," Chairman Jim Abeler of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee said Monday as he introduced his budget plan. The Anoka Republican said that his proposal will change before reaching Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton's desk.
ST. PAUL -- Republican state budget plans will become clear in the coming week, although no one expects the governor to agree. A week ago, the GOP released a budget outline, and legislative committees now are debating details. Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said that Republicans who control the Legislature will send their own budget bills to Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton.