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 -- Minnesota's three major governor candidates show a diverse portfolio to voters, who on Tuesday must decide which man would be best at solving the state's worst-ever budget problem. Over on the far political right is Tom Emmer, a 49-year-old lawyer and state representative from Delano, a Republican who says that state government spending is out of control. He would limit spending in the next two-year budget to revenue the state already expects.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's three major governor candidates picked up their rural campaigns in recent weeks, after a barrage of Twin Cities debates and fund-raising needs keep them off the farm and out of many communities. Campaigning away from big-city lights features one favorite question, especially from city officials, about Local Government Aid, state payments designed to pump cash into city coffers when local property taxes cannot support basic services. All three would keep some form of LGA. Democrat Mark Dayton and Tom Horner of the Independence Party suggest keeping LGA much as it is.
ST. PAUL -- It is not often that when a legislator walks into the room, his colleague stand and applaud. But when David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, walked into the House chambers during the recent special session, that is just what happened. A couple of legislators in the back of the chamber noticed him slip in a side door, and started clapping. Soon, all 130 other lawmakers, not to mention staff, in the chamber joined in the applause. Dill had received a kidney transplant less than a week earlier.
BAXTER -- Agonizing pain overwhelmed Tom Emmer's 38-year-old sister as she lie in bed, but she was too weak to get up. So Emmer moved her legs over the side of the bed, lifted her up and moved her around the room to keep her as comfortable as the woman dying of cancer could be. "I literally slow danced with my sister as she died," Minnesota's Republican governor candidate recalled about those days nearly 11 years ago.
ST. PAUL -- State disaster relief is on its way to flood- and tornado-damaged communities, but officials said they may be back for more help next year. Minnesota legislators unanimously approved $80 million in disaster relief during a brief special session Monday, with most heading to southern Minnesota communities hit by floods fed by record September rains. Wadena and other communities affected by a June 17 tornado outbreak will get $6.6 million from the bill. The House quickly approved the measure 131-0 and the Senate 66-0.
ST. PAUL -- Two of Minnesota's three major governor candidates can take heart in a poll released just before the weekend. But for Tom Horner of the Independence Party, the KSTP-SurveyUSA poll news is not good. The poll shows Democrat Mark Dayton in front with 42 percent of the vote, followed by Republican Tom Emmer with 37 percent. That still is a close race, given the chance for error in a survey. However, the poll showed Horner missing his goal of passing the 20 percent mark by mid-October.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators head back to St. Paul Monday to approve spending disaster-relief funds in what is supposed a neat, clean afternoon affair where lawmakers hear the proposal, vote for it and go home. At least that is what Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he and legislative leaders want and expect. Some legislators promise to bring up other bills, but they may have little chance since any item other than disaster funds would need massive support even to be debated. Pawlenty on Thursday said he would call a special session to begin at 1 p.m. Monday.
ST. PAUL -- Legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Pawlenty tentatively agreed to spend $80 million on disaster relief, mostly for southern Minnesota communities hit by extensive flooding last month. Wadena's efforts to recover from a June 17 tornado could get a piece of the appropriations, $750,000 to plan a new community center. Wadena leaders had sought $20.5 million. Negotiators Tuesday approved the bill, but must wait to make the numbers final for an Obama administration decision whether to declare most of southern Minnesota a flood disaster area.