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
- 4 years 2 months
ST. PAUL -- The new year could be one of government reform. Minnesota legislative Republicans and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton agree reforming is a top priority, but they may differ on just what that means and how to get there. A year ago, the two sides said the same thing, but a big money debate got in the way. By necessity, legislators and Dayton had to concentrate on plugging a $5 billion hole in the state budget. With a slight budget surplus heading into the 2012 legislative session, which begins Jan.
ST. PAUL -- It is back to the future for Minnesota Senate Republicans with Dave Senjem back in charge. "The direction is nothing but forward," Senjem said, adding that despite his history as GOP leader "it is a new day." A 69-year-old senator from Rochester, Senjem moves into the majority leader's position a year after he ended four years of service as minority leader. In his last year in that job, he and Sen.
ROSEVILLE -- Minnesota state Sen. Dave Senjem of Rochester makes a return as Senate Republican leader after an 11-hour meeting Tuesday. The new majority leader faces some tough decisions right away. Senjem served as minority leader until last year, when Republicans won the Senate majority for the first time in 38 years. The Senate Republican caucus also elected Sens.
ST. PAUL -- A confident Mark Dayton is ending his first year as Minnesota governor. The Democratic governor of today is far different than "socially awkward ... inept at the game of retail politics" that a top aide once said about him. Political observers recall times when Dayton seemed more comfortable standing alone in the back of a room rather than glad-handing like other politicians. "I was myself then and I am myself now," Dayton told Forum Communications in a year-end interview. "As governor, you are expected to be front and center. You are expected to be not off on the side. ...
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's 2011 began with liberal Mark Dayton becoming governor. The next day, an ultra-conservative Legislature took the oath, the first time Republicans controlled both chambers in decades. Minnesota politicos were shocked in December with the resignations of two Republicans who helped give the GOP legislative control, with one leaving a huge stack of bills to pay and the other admitting to an improper relationship with an employee.
ST. PAUL -- Former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said she is sorry for being in a relationship with a Senate employee. "I regret more than words can express the hurt that I have caused to the people that I love, and to those who have worked and served with me over the past years," Koch said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon. The Buffalo Republican said her Thursday resignation and Friday's revelation that it followed Senate employees complaining about an inappropriate relationship "have been very difficult for me and those close to me.
ST. PAUL -- Upheaval within Senate Republican ranks could delay work on a Minnesota Vikings football stadium. "Obviously, it's a bump in the road," said Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, who is chief House point man for a stadium bill. Sen. Amy Koch, who resigned last week as majority leader, had become involved in stadium talks during the past month, Lanning said Tuesday, so without knowing who will replace her, questions arise. "Sen.
ST. PAUL -- One candidate for Minnesota Republican Party chairman dropped out Friday after being arrested a day earlier while a colorful former legislator got into the race to lead a party facing financial woes. Hearing aid company executive Brandon Sawalich, who had gained support from many GOP leaders, left the race a day after he was arrested by Minneapolis-St. Paul airport police when his pickup truck was spotted with expired license tabs. Also on Friday, information surfaced that he had settled a sexual harassment dispute out of court. Meanwhile, former state Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Amy Koch's resignation as Minnesota Senate majority leader came like a lightning bolt out of the blue. And it may have been even more shocking when word leaked out Friday that she is accused of having an improper relationship with a male Senate employee. "That would be a surprise to me," Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, said when told of the allegations. "I have always found her to be a very upstanding individual." Reporters could almost hear jaws drop Thursday night as they informed senators of the news when calling to get reaction.
ST. PAUL -- "It's probably not our finest week." With those words, the Minnesota Senate's new top Republican revealed Friday that the state's first female Senate majority leader resigned after he and others confronted her with allegations she had an inappropriate relationship with a male Senate employee. Interim Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel and three other top Republican senators told reporters that Senate staffers complained that a relationship they alleged between Sen. Amy Koch and the employee hurt the work environment. "This is a painful experience for all of us involved," Sen.