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 months
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota environmentalists are concentrating their political efforts this year on continuing state bans on nuclear and coal-fired power plants and seeking financial deposits from companies before starting a new type of mining. Executive Director Steve Morse of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, an umbrella organization for more than 80 outdoor and environmental groups, on Tuesday briefed legislators and reporters about his members' legislative priorities. The legislative session begins Feb. 4 and is expected to center on the state's financial woes.
ST. PAUL--The Minnesota and North Dakota governors waged a bit of a war in 2003 and 2004 over hunting laws, but now Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he is willing to help North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven hunt for votes as he runs for the U.S. Senate. "I'd do anything for him," Pawlenty said Monday when asked about Hoeven's run for Washington. "I really like him, respect him admire him. He is the kind of leader our country needs in Washington, D.C. Certainly, I would help him." Pawlenty gave Hoeven an "A-plus-plus" grade. The two Republican governors have not always agreed on everything.
ST. PAUL -- Veterans are homeless in larger numbers than other Minnesotans, and Durbin Keeney does not like that. "These are the ones who raise their right hands..." Durbin said Monday, when the state honored the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. "They are willing to come home in a body bag, but not willing to come home homeless." Keeney directs the council's Duluth-based region that serves 38 counties across northern Minnesota. The council helps homeless veterans find shelter and jobs, as Keeney said, sometimes with quiet support and sometimes with a kick in the pants.
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.