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 Gov. Mark Dayton diffused a tense situation at his first official function Wednesday by sharing his microphone with shouting protesters crowded into his office. Dozens of people opposed to the state getting more deeply involved in the federal Medicaid program jammed into the governor's reception room alongside legislators, reporters and photographers in a scene Capitol observers say they never have witnessed before.
ST. PAUL -- If great challenges lead to great opportunities, as the old saying goes, Minnesota lawmakers have a whale of an opportunity this year. "There are fantastic opportunities out there," said new Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Mark Dayton's first speech as Minnesota governor illustrated the problems he faces. While calling for teamwork to solve the state's problems, the new governor on Monday also insisted that the rich need to pay higher taxes, something Republicans who take control of the state Legislature today strongly oppose. Dayton offered no specifics in his inaugural speech, delivered to a packed Democrat-heavy crowd at St.
ST. PAUL -- Mark Dayton became Minnesota's 40th governor early this afternoon, immediately urging Minnesotans to work together to solve state problems like a massive budget deficit. His 10-minute inaugural speech started with thanking supporters and pledging to work for those who voted for him, and those who did not, but most of it centered on his "working together" theme. "Previous generations of Minnesotans and other Americans faced graver danger, under worse conditions, with fewer resources than we do today," Dayton said. "They summoned their collective knowledge, courage and resolve.
ST. PAUL -- Gov.-elect Mark Dayton and newly minted Republican Minnesota legislative leaders promise to work with each other when the 2011 legislative session begins at noon Tuesday. But neither Dayton nor Republicans who control the Legislature can lay out a map for how they will bridge their biggest gulf: a $6.2 billion budget deficit. Both sides agree that things have not run smoothly the past few years between Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Democrats controlling the state Legislature.
ST. PAUL -- Nuclear power. Mining. Regulations. Duck season. Those and more issues will be debated in Minnesota legislative environmental committees run by Republicans during the session that begins Jan. 4. The House and Senate committees likely will feature less tree hugging and more business hugging than those run by Democratic-Farmer-Laborites in the past. "We are going to discuss some things that they didn't discuss," said Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Gov.-elect Mark Dayton wants the state to borrow $1 billion for public works construction projects around the state. He should not get his heart set on it. "We are so diametrically opposed," said Rep. Larry Howes, House chairman of the committee that would send projects to Democrat Dayton. "Someone has to give." The Walker Republican, not always in lockstep with his party leaders, indicated that he is not ready to give. "We will say, obviously, we are not going to have a bonding bill," Howes said of a public works bill financed by the state selling bonds.
ST. PAUL -- Two southwest Minnesota lawmakers will spearhead rural interests when the 2011 Legislature convenes at noon Jan. 4. Sen.-elect Doug Magnus of Slayton and Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota grew by 384,446 people in the past decade, but 15,000 is a more important number. Minnesota beat North Carolina by 15,000 people to keep its eight U.S. House seats. Had 15,000 fewer Minnesotans filled out their census forms last spring, the state would be faced with figuring out how to draw congressional district lines for just seven House seats. District lines still will be redrawn in the next year to fulfill the one person, one vote federal requirement.