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 — 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.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's aide who so angered farm-area legislators that they said the governor had declared war on agriculture now says he made mistakes. Deputy Chief of Staff Linden Zakula sent an email to the media Monday night, May 15, clarifying two mistakes he made in a May 9 memorandum when he was attacking the Republican-written agriculture finance bill, which Dayton later vetoed.
ST. PAUL—Protecting young Minnesota girls from what is known as female genital mutilation has gained strong state House support. "This is gender violence," Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said Monday, May 15, before representatives voted 124-4 to get tough on the practice. It was an emotional debate. "I cried myself to sleep" Sunday night in anticipation of the debate, Franson said.
ST. PAUL—Storms are in the forecast. While that is the St. Paul weather outlook, it also could be expected under the Capitol dome starting Monday, May 15, when state budget negotiations could resume. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republicans who control the Legislature have deep divisions as they begin their final full week of the 2017 Legislature; at least it will be their final full week of the regular session, with special session thoughts in the back of many minds if leaders cannot craft a deal by May 22.
ST. PAUL — A massive crane on the Minnesota Capitol's north side is to come down in the next few days. The crane's disappearance symbolizes the end of several years of Capitol renovation at a price tag of $310 million. The day probably comes none too soon for Gov. Mark Dayton, who more than once has been critical of construction work spilling over into 2017. He has mentioned that the $1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium construction finished on time, but not the Capitol work.
ST. PAUL — Rural Republican lawmakers say Minnesota's governor is waging a war on agriculture. Many farm groups also object to some of Gov. Mark Dayton's stances, although may not use language that strong. A coalition of 18 farm groups and 10 county commissioners on Thursday, May 11, sent the governor and lawmakers a letter saying a Dayton clean water program, requiring plant buffers between cropland and water, needs to be delayed.
PAUL — Work on the Minnesota state budget slowed Wednesday, May 10, to allow a senator to be with her dying father. House members pressed ahead, passing a tax-cut bill and another funding transportation. Budget negotiations between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton stopped after the GOP began pushing their budget bills to full House and Senate votes Tuesday.
ST. PAUL — Voters around greater Minnesota can expect to see a lot of Jeff Johnson. The 50-year-old Hennepin County commissioner and Detroit Lakes native launched his second Republican bid for governor Wednesday, May 10, saying that the area outside the Twin Cities is critical.
ST. PAUL—Republicans who control the Minnesota Legislature are moving their budget plan over Democratic claims that their actions are illegal. And the governor said he would veto each of the 10 bills making up the GOP's $46 billion, two-year spending proposal. Budget talks among legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton began late last week, and continued early Tuesday afternoon, May 9, but leaders put their budget legislation in front of lawmakers late afternoon with little notice.
ST. PAUL — U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan and Tim Walz tried a fist bump, looking rather awkward, in front of a couple hundred people rallying in favor or pension protections, but there was nothing awkward between the two men who could find themselves opponents in a race for governor. In Tuesday, May 9, interviews, neither said there would be a problem with two congressmen running for the state's highest office. "I think there is room for everybody," Walz said.