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
- 2 years 2 weeks
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's legislative leaders have agreed to a public works funding bill nearing $1 billion. However, Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to limit it to something closer to $725 million, a difference that could prove to be an interesting topic at budget meetings of the governor and legislative leaders. The House and Senate plan January meetings to begin laying out how that money would be spent. Final bills in both chambers could come together later this month, but more likely will be written soon after the 2010 legislative session begins on Feb. 4.
ST. PAUL -- All-terrain-vehicle riders from other states must buy passes to use Minnesota's 2,000 miles of trails. The new law begins on Friday for out-of-state ATV users as a way to help fund trail maintenance. An annual pass costs $21 and may be bought via telephone, on line or where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The new law only affects out-of-state ATV drivers. Minnesotans already must register their ATVs and pay a fee. Snowmobiles also must be registered, whether they are from Minnesota or other states. The passes last a year and may be used on any state-run trail.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty violated the state constitution when he cut a relatively small program as he tried to fix a $2.7 billion budget deficit this summer, a judge said in a ruling that could open the door to more legal challenges. Judge Kathleen Gearin's Wednesday ruling that the governor was wrong came in the first major court challenge to Republican Pawlenty's summer decision to unilaterally cut the budget, a procedure known as unallotment. Others affected by the cuts have said they were watching the case before deciding if they, too, would take Pawlenty to court.
ST. PAUL -- Federal law requires every American to fulfill only one civic duty, and it comes around just once a decade -- fill out the federal census form. Minnesota officials say the state's citizens should fulfill that duty, and for the sake of the state they should only complete a census document delivered to their Minnesota address. In essence, the 2010 census is a battle among a dozen states to maintain, or expand, their congressional representation. Minnesota is in the middle of that battle and could lose one of its eight U.S. House seats after all Americans are counted.
ST. PAUL -- A respected nonpartisan blog reports Collin Peterson gets more pork than Jim Oberstar when it comes to the battle of Minnesota's two powerful U.S. House chairmen. The University of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog, written by Eric Ostermeier, studied who brought home the most federal aid and discovered that in 2008 the 35 counties Peterson serves in the 7th Congressional District, most of western Minnesota, received almost $5 million, compared to $4.8 million in the 8th Congressional District's 17 counties that Oberstar serves.
ST. PAUL -- Brazil is one of Minnesota's major ethanol competitors, but Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty came away from a visit there saying the two also could cooperate. At least they could work together on defining ethanol and other such fundamental issues, the governor said as he is wrapping up a week-long South American trade mission with about 40 other Minnesotans.
ST. PAUL -- Democrats want to use federal money, force counties to pay more and divert other funds to restore health-care coverage to Minnesota's poor. A program known as General Assistance Medical Care is due to expire March 1 after Gov. Tim Pawlenty eliminated its funding to help balance the state budget. A Democratic plan released at a Thursday Capitol news conference would keep providing health care for the 70,000 adults earning less than $7,800 annually who now receive mostly free care via GAMC.
ST. PAUL -- One of Minnesota's most colorful senators is leaving the Legislature to run a group promoting slot machines at horse-racing tracks. Sen. Dick Day, R-Owatonna, long has fought to allow so-called racinos at tracks, and now says he is looking forward to devoting full time to the cause. It could bring the state $250 million a year, he said, and create thousands of jobs. "I believe this is the year we can put it over," Day said, because the economy has so hurt the state budget that money from racinos could help.
ST. PAUL -- News that Minnesota cities and counties will receive full state aid checks later this month appropriately came on a day when many were sending out snowplows and all were dealing with bitter cold weather as the season's first major storm whipped through the state. Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced on Tuesday that he will not reduce or eliminate December state payments to local governments. Last week, he said that was a possibility as he looked to ways to help plug a $1.2 billion hole in the current two-year budget. The Republican governor implied that future cuts were possible.