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
- 5 years 5 months
ST. PAUL — About two weeks remain in the 2018 legislative session, so it is time for the work to begin. At least it is time for the final work. Now is when the House, Senate and administration to sit down in conference committees and behind closed doors to reach deals. Even-numbered years like 2018 normally are centered on funding public works projects. This year, such work nearly has been an afterthought as so many other issues have shot to the top.
Tim Pawlenty's lieutenant governor and short-time transportation commissioner, Carol Molnau, will advise Jeff Johnson in his run for governor this year. Pawlenty and Johnson are leading governor candidates for the Republican nomination this year. Johnson announced Friday, May 4, that Molnau will advise him on agriculture issues during his campaign and if he is elected. She will not be his running mate or work for him in St. Paul.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota state leaders are preparing to negotiate one of the most complex tax law rewrites in decades. With the Senate passing, by 34-32, its version of the tax legislation on Thursday, May 3, all three pieces are in place for the governor and legislative leaders to ensure that recent massive changes in federal tax law do not force hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans to pay more.
ST. PAUL—Repairing, not building, is a public works priority for Minnesota House Republicans. Instead of constructing lots of new buildings, they propose fixing roofs, painting peeling walls and other such routine but needed work. The House public works plan, to be funded by the state selling bonds, would spend $825 million, Republicans announced late Wednesday afternoon, May 2. Of that, $364 million would go to preserve state facilities.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota water advocates gathered at the Capitol for their annual Clean Water Action Day when at least one water controversy seems to be easing. House Agriculture Chairman Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, said Wednesday, May 2, an hour before the clean-water rally that farmers now pretty much accept a Dayton administration draft rule on nitrogen fertilizer, although he said they still do not trust the administration.
ST. PAUL — The Woodbury Republican mayor running for Minnesota governor has picked a rural lawmaker to be her running mate. Mary Giuliani Stephens announced on Wednesday, May 2, that Rep. Jeff Backer from Browns Valley will run for lieutenant governor. The team represents the two geographic areas Republicans must carry to win a general election: the suburbs and rural Minnesota.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton said he read a couple of news stories over the weekend about unexpected financial shortfalls schools face, and on Tuesday, May 1, produced a request for $138 million in "emergency" funding. He said that 59 districts face immediate budget deficits, and he wants to split the "emergency" money among all districts across the states. Republicans who lead legislative education finance committees said they have done a good job of funding schools in recent years, and more funding likely will not come.
ST. PAUL — Rural Republican state lawmakers say Minnesota Department of Transportation officials only funded Twin Cities-area projects from the Corridors of Commerce program. Two of the four projects to get funding are in the Twin Cities and two are on its edge. None of the projects announced Tuesday, May 1, is in what the rural Legislators consider greater Minnesota.
ST. PAUL—A Minnesotan who national television cable news viewers know as a strong President Donald Trump critic is running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate. Richard Painter announced Monday, April 30, that he will run in the Aug. 14 Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party primary election against Sen. Tina Smith. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Smith when Al Franken resigned; she says she is running for election this year for the last two years of Franken's term.
ST. PAUL — How to deal with opioid abuse is one of those issues that everyone agrees needs legislation, but they cannot agree on details. Many Democrats and at least some Republicans say drug companies that make and sell the powerful painkillers should pay for opioid abuse prevention and treatment. That does not fly well with many Republicans, although Sen. Julie Rosen of Vernon Center is continuing her fight to collect a fee (or tax, if you will) on opioids sold in the state.