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 3 months
ST. PAUL—Fixing the problem-plagued Minnesota vehicle and license computer system may be stalled. Contractors trying to fix the state software are receiving notices that the state is out of money to pay them. Minnesota Information Technology Services mailed letters Thursday night, March 1, to 21 people working as independent contractors. The state agency says workers will begin to leave right away, which will stop work to repair the ill-fated computer system that has angered Minnesotans since summer.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota officials say they are catching up on a backlog of cases alleging elderly people have been abused. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm on Thursday, March 1, said all 2,321 cases that had piled up in the Office of Health Facilities Complaints have been reviewed. Of those, officials decided further investigations are needed for 89 cases. Those probes will be added to 430 investigations already underway. In December, 826 investigations were being conducted.
ST. PAUL — Most greater Minnesota residents have one or two choices for health insurers, which Gov. Mark Dayton said shows a need to expand a state health insurance program to everyone. The state-subsidized MinnesotaCare insurance program especially could help farmers, who often struggle with finding and affording health care coverage, Dayton said.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's state budget has flipped from being in deficit to surplus, but the added money is less than legislative leaders expected. Minnesota Management and Budget, the state finance agency, projects a $329 million surplus for the current $46 billion budget, which ends July 1, 2019. However, Minnesota legislative leaders told a Forum News Service forum two weeks ago that they expected a surplus of $600 million to $1 billion.
ST. PAUL — The Dayton administration says it needs $10 million. Fast. Otherwise, by week's end the state will begin laying off computer programmers and cancel business contracts. And Minnesota's trouble-plagued computer system for issuing motor vehicle license plates, stickers, registrations and titles will continue its slow and inaccurate work.
ST. PAUL—States across the country want to update their sexual misconduct rules after lawmakers, including in Minnesota, have been forced out of office. "We have seen an unprecedented amount of attention to this topic," Jon Griffin of the National Conference of State Legislatures said on Monday, Feb. 26, to a Minnesota House committee established to set up new rules in the next three months. Monday was the first meeting of the committee, which expects to prepare recommendations for how sexual misconduct is handled by the time lawmakers adjourn for the year on May 21.
ST. PAUL — Some Minnesota lawmakers say they can be more effective in fighting childhood hunger if they regularly meet with organizations in and out of government who deal with the situation. So state Reps. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, and Erin Maye Quade, D-Apple Valley, launched the Child Hunger Caucus. "We cannot allow childhood hunger to continue to be a silent issue," Maye Quade said.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislators wasted little time appropriating funds so they can remain in business. The House passed the budget 77-50 Thursday night, Feb. 22, the third day of the 2018 legislative session, with the Senate following 38-28. The budget replaces one Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed in late May. He signed the state's $46 billion, two-year budget into law, except for $164 million that funded the Legislature. Included in the legislative budget is legislator pay, staff wages, rent and other expenses.
ST. PAUL—An anti-gun violence rally scheduled before last week's Florida school shooting packed more than 1,000 young and old Minnesotans into the state Capitol Thursday, Feb. 22, encouraging lawmakers who work under the dome to enact legislation to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. Sen. Ron Latz, D-St. Louis Park, gave an example of what he sees as a problem: A store clerk job applicant may undergo a criminal background check, but not all gun buyers do.
ST. PAUL—A couple of businesses are moving to Windom, a 4,646-population community in southwest Minnesota, but the mayor there worries that the city cannot handle much more growth. The limiting factor may be the city's need for a new sewage treatment plant to meet state and federal guidelines. Mayor Dominic Jones, who in his private life is director of the Red Rock Rural Water District, said the mandated sewage plant would cost $15 million if it could be built now, but the city cannot afford it.