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 — Although many Minnesota property owners could see some tax relief this year, farmers can expect higher taxes for at least the next two years. “What I am...
ST. PAUL — The Renewable Fuels Association says major oil companies strong-arm retailers that sell gasoline under their brand names to avoid using any more plant-based ethanol than legally necessary. Independent gasoline stations are four to six times more likely to sell higher blends of ethanol, usually made from corn, than those that carry major oil company names, the association reported. At stake is whether high ethanol blends will be readily available to consumers. Those blends include E85, which features 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent petroleum-based gasoline.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton Wednesday asked that counties damaged by floods last month be declared a presidential disaster area. Dayton also added 16 counties to the state disaster list, meaning 51 of Minnesota’s 87 counties reported damage from flooding that began June 11. If President Barack Obama honors Dayton’s request, state and local government will get federal money to pay 75 percent of flood-related costs.
ST. PAUL — A $273 million Minnesota Capitol building renovation will close most of the facility when construction workers return to the job today. The central rotunda will be among areas closed, along with all of the east wing and the ground and first floors of the west wing. The closures are a continuation of the gradual emptying of the Capitol during a three-year renovation project. The governor’s and attorney general’s offices already have moved elsewhere, as have many Senate employees’ offices.
ST. PAUL — Adding something to a petroleum-based fuel always has been controversial, so it should be no surprise that soybean-based biodiesel brings disputes. “It’s blatantly unfair and costly to the trucking industry,” President John Hausladen of the Minnesota Trucking Association said about a law that took effect Tuesday requiring diesel fuel to contain 10 percent biodiesel. His association’s chairman, Daniel Svaloja, complains that truckers are being forced to use the biodiesel blend even though other industries, such as mining companies, are exempt.
ST. PAUL — Local governments across Minnesota and state agencies should receive federal aid to recover from widespread flooding last month, but it is not so clear where homeowners stand. Commissioner Mary Tingerthal of the Minnesota Housing Finance Authority said Tuesday that her office has received relatively few reports of home damage, despite about 40 of the state’s 87 counties reporting flooding problems. However, Gov.
ST. PAUL — Opponents to establishing unions for child care and personal attendant businesses say they think a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a related Illinois case also will result in overturning a 2013 Minnesota law. The court ruled Monday that in-home care workers in Illinois who are paid by the state are not similar enough to government employees to be compelled to pay union dues.
ST. PAUL — An organization representing Greater Minnesota cities continues to lead spending of local government lobbying groups. State Auditor Rebecca Otto’s office reports that the latest information, for 2013, shows the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities spent $835,674 on lobbying activities during the legislative session that resulted in a two-year, $39 billion budget funded by state taxpayers.
ST. PAUL — A revised two-year Minnesota state budget that starts Tuesday is good news, rural education advocates say. Rich suburban school districts have done well at raising residents’ taxes to improve their budgets, and the state has done a good job of boosting urban districts’ funding. Rural school officials say they have not fared so well, until this year. “For many years, rural schools saw average to below average funding increases when compared to schools in the urban core,” Sam Walseth of the Minnesota Rural Education Association wrote.
ST. PAUL — Sunshine improved many water-logged Minnesotans’ spirits Monday, but a flood fight may continue all summer for some. With damage reports flowing in, state elected officials Monday extended for 30 days a disaster declaration Gov. Mark Dayton signed last week.