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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By Don Davis and Danielle Nordine State Capitol Bureau ST. PAUL -- A Vikings stadium construction proposal took its biggest step forward ever Monday night when a House committee approved the nearly $1 billion plan. After a decade of discussion about whether to build a new stadium, the House commerce committee decided on a split voice vote to advance the plan.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's Republican-controlled Senate approved business tax cuts Friday that Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton all but promises to veto. The highlight of the GOP tax proposal senators passed 34-26 along party lines Friday night after two and a half hours of debate is a reduction in a statewide business property tax and its eventual elimination. The bill by Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, would reduce the taxes $102 million next year. To fund the tax cut, the bill reduces state budget reserves. "We should not have a honey pot," Ortman said.
ST. PAUL -- Many people under the Capitol dome say it feels like the Legislature is in its final days, but more and more it looks like lawmakers will take a break and return April 16 to wrap up work. Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said lawmakers are working quickly, but it looks difficult to quit on Thursday, the last day before a long-planned Easter-Passover break begins.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota representatives heard about problems from Duluth to Moorhead before overwhelmingly voting to crack down on synthetic drugs. On a 120-11 Wednesday vote, the House decided to make 250 more chemicals illegal, slap more severe penalties on those who sell the drugs and make it possible for the state Pharmacy Board to quickly act to add new drugs to the illegal list. "While they may seem something like marijuana, they are nothing like marijuana," Rep.
ST. PAUL -- One of the 2012 Minnesota Legislature's prime tasks is to approve public facility repair and construction funds, but the three proposals vary widely as lawmakers look to wrap up their work for the year. The final of the three public works funding plans, from Senate Republicans, overwhelmingly earned its initial committee passage Wednesday. It would spend $496 million, between House Republicans' $280 million and Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Conservative and liberal Minnesota legislators are combining efforts to stop a business practice they say invades job applicants' privacy. National reports in recent days have told of employers, both private and public, demanding passwords for social Internet sites potential employees use. The employers then have access to personal information of the job applicant. "We want to protect the privacy of those job seekers," Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said about her bill. "It's a huge invasion of privacy," added Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minneapolis officials said they have enough votes on their city council to approve a new Vikings stadium, but the clock may run out before legislators can approve a new facility. It appears an increasing number of legislators want to go home for the year next week. If that happens, time could run out before a stadium bill has a chance to get through the process. "I don't know how we possibly can do it," Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators talk little about a White Earth Band casino proposal to increase state revenue, but the band leader says she will continue to push it as lawmakers struggle to find money for everything from a stadium to schools. To answer one of the critics' nagging questions, White Earth hired former Minnesota Chief Justice Eric Magnuson to look into constitutionality of the state allowing the northwestern Minnesota band to build a Twin Cities casino.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Senate Ethics Committee stalled along party lines when trying to decide if a senator breached legislative ethics in dealing with an affair between the then-Senate majority leader and an employee. The panel Friday split 2-2 twice about whether Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, acted quickly enough and was discrete in handling an affair between Sen. Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, and Senate GOP Communications Director Michael Brodkorb. Committee work was interrupted when the full Senate went into session, delaying any final action. Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St.
ST. PAUL -- Showing photo identification before voting may be inconvenient, but the senator sponsoring a proposal to require voter photo ID says it is worth it. "I will willingly admit that there is some burden placed on some of our citizens in exercising their right to vote," Sen. Scott Newman said Friday before Minnesota senators voted 36-30 mostly along party lines to require photo IDs. "On balance, I believe this (constitutional) amendment is the right thing to do." The bill will go to Minnesota voters in the Nov.