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.
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ST. PAUL -- The $46 billion question remains unanswered. Minnesota legislators finished passing a two-year state budget of that size early Friday, May 26, after nearly five months in regular session and more than three days in special session, but now those interested in state spending will wait until Tuesday to see if Gov. Mark Dayton signs them into law.
ST. PAUL -- A gentle harmonica concert by Rep. Bob Loonan did not provide quite enough calm late Thursday, May 25, as a relatively minor issue stalled the Minnesota Legislature's drive to finish passing the state budget. The second-term state lawmaker from Shakopee played his harmonica as lawmakers gathered for what they hoped was the third and last day of what was supposed to be a one-day session.
ST. PAUL—An overtime Minnesota legislative session provided an opening to protest the state budget as legislative leaders worked out plans to finish on Thursday. Hundreds gathered at the state Capitol Wednesday, May 24, delivering chants like "veto everything" because they do not like spending bills mostly written by Republicans. In many cases, the complaints were that the legislation would not spend enough money. Protesters came from a wide-ranging coalition including teachers, religious leaders, immigration supporters, local government control advocates and others.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota likely will borrow nearly $1 billion to fix state buildings, build water treatment facilities, make railroad crossings safer and provide money for local roads and bridges. The public works funding bill, with money borrowed by the state selling bonds, failed in the final minutes of last year's legislative session, but Democrats and Republicans say they expect it to pass before the end of a special session that began early Tuesday, May 23.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota legislators missed their second deadline in two days Wednesday morning, May 24, leaving much of the state's $46 billion, two-year budget undone. And House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, mentioned the possibility that the special legislative session that was to end at 7 a.m. Wednesday could extend for days. Frustrated and tired legislators began shouting and had trouble communicating through the night.
ST. PAUL—The 2017 Legislature may do pretty well by greater Minnesota. "We got there because it was a bipartisan effort. both parties brought real strengths to the table," Deputy House Minority Leader Paul Marquart, D-Dilworth, said hours before a special session was to adjourn Wednesday morning. "I use the tax bill as an example."
ST. PAUL—Minnesota legislative leaders and the governor resumed budget talks Friday, May 19, but leaders were tight-lipped about their first closed-door meeting in two days. Upon entering Gov. Mark Dayton's office at 8:15 a.m., Republican leaders refused to say if they carried him a new offer. When they left less than 10 minutes later, they said they would return in about an hour.
ST. PAUL — This is not good news for Jeff Johnson, or anyone else who has lost a governor's race and wants a second chance. "Only a handful of the more than five-dozen losing candidates for the office since statehood have been victorious on a subsequent attempt," politics trivia expert Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota reported. His review of campaign history comes after Hennepin County Commissioner Johnson announced he will try a second time for the governor's office. He lost to Mark Dayton in 2014.
ST. PAUL—It is not a good day in the Minnesota Capitol. Legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton broke off budget talks late Wednesday, May 17, and on Thursday, May 18, GOP lawmakers blasted a Dayton veto of a teacher licensure bill, saying it especially hurts rural Minnesota schools that struggle to hire teachers. "This is a real setback for rural Minnesota education," Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said Thursday afternoon, shortly after Dayton issued the veto.
ST. PAUL — A rookie Minnesota senator may have said it best in social media. "With less than a week left of legislative session, here's a list of what we still need to finish: 1. Everything." That Tuesday, May 16, summary of the Legislature by Sen. Matt Little, D-Lakeville, said it all, other than progress was being made at the highest levels.