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 -- A perennial Minnesota legislative debate about local government aid is expected in the 2010 session, or maybe earlier. The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is making noise about a big fight, and many city officials are concerned that they cannot wait until lawmakers return to the Capitol on Feb. 4. A Wednesday budget forecast, which could show a new deficit of $1 billion, may lead to cuts in local governments' December state paychecks.
ST. PAUL -- Talks to buy land for a Lake Vermilion state park are on hold, the state natural resources commissioner told a legislative committee, but hope remains that a deal could be completed. Commissioner Mark Holsten said he wants $20 million set aside for land purchase to remain available. "We are involved in a very delicate business discussion with U.S. Steel," he said. "The timing has to be right for the two parties to be involved in a business transaction." Gov. Tim Pawlenty made it a priority to establish a Lake Vermilion state park in northeastern Minnesota. U.S.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's H1N1 flu outbreak continues to ease, but state health officials warn that another wave may be on the way. "We may be down in terms of influenza activity," State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said Wednesday. However, she warned, other states also have seen the H1N1 swine flu wane before another wave hits. "We are preparing for a potential third wave that could happen in January or February," Lynfield said. Also, she added, past pandemics have come in waves, so Minnesotans should continue to wash their hands, cover coughs and stay home when sick.
ST. PAUL -- The first of what could be many Minnesota court rulings on Gov. Tim Pawlenty's authority to unilaterally cut the state budget should come within days. A part of a wider dispute, a Ramsey County judge on Monday heard arguments about whether she should temporarily restore $5.3 million to one food program the governor cut as part of his efforts to plug a $2.7 billion budget deficit.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans may think their media report on Tim Pawlenty's potential presidential run only because he is their home-state governor, but the Republican is getting plenty of attention nationwide. Online political writers have been watching Pawlenty closely. But so have traditional media reporters. Several national reporters attended his recent Iowa debut, along with about 10 Minnesota journalists and a few from Iowa. Dan Balz, the Washington Post's big-name political reporter, is one example.
ST. PAUL -- Torrey Westrom gave Lissa Thies a simple request: learn the basics of using his mobile telephone. His Motorola Q is a typical smartphone, capable of surfing the Web, sending and receiving e-mails and handling text messages, besides being used as a telephone. Even to the most technically inclined, the nearly 50 keys are intimidating. To a blind person such as Westrom, the task becomes many times tougher.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Immigrants are important to Minnesota's economy, especially for rural areas, a new report indicates. "Immigration stimulates job creation," according to the business coalition report. "As industries expand and hire new workers, jobs are created to maintain this larger workforce and to supply its needs for goods and services. Without new, young workers, certain sectors of the economy will continue to contract.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota health officials report seven more Minnesotans died of the flu at a time when fewer cases were reported across the state. "For the second week in a row, we do have some promising indicators that we may be having a downward trend in activity," State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said. It is too early to say the H1N1 flu is on the decline, she added. But signs point to decreasing activity in both the Twin Cities and the rest of the state. In the spring, when H1N1 first was identified, the illness was concentrated in the Twin Cities.
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Key Iowa Republicans got to know Tim Pawlenty Saturday night in a speech that some considered the kickoff of his campaign in the first state to pick its presidential favorite. The Minnesota governor made no mention of his potential presidential candidacy, but harshly attacked President Barack Obama and other Democrats.