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 -- College students facing rising tuition when they head to campus next fall have at least some good financial news -- state and federal governments are increasing grant programs. Up to 9,000 more Minnesota students from low- and middle-income families may receive grants and many of the 83,000 existing grant recipients could get more money. "Given what has happened to family financial circumstances over the past year, this couldn't have come at a better time," said David Laird Jr., president of the Minnesota Private College Council.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's request to overturn a federal law that threw Dakota and Winnebago Indians out of the state can become a way to teach about mistreatment over the years, Native Americans and a state legislator say. The 1863 law banning the two tribes has been replaced with presidential and congressional actions, and Dakota Indians live on four Minnesota reservations, but the law remains on the books. Rep. Dean Urdahl said on Thursday it is past time to repeal it.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's soaring home foreclosure rate, a top issue a year ago, has eased a bit in the Twin Cities, but not so much in other parts of the state. And as the foreclosure situation swells, especially in rural Minnesota, options are scarce. Ed Nelson of the Minnesota Home Ownership Center said that those outside the Twin Cities are more likely to find fewer options to get out of foreclosure because, ironically, they often did everything right when picking their mortgages. The housing crisis began with sub-prime mortgages that were issued without enough collateral.
ST. PAUL - Shouting matches ended the 2009 Minnesota legislative session early Tuesday as lawmakers struggled to balance the state budget. Legislators failed to reach a deal with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but the Republican governor said he will finish the job. The normally staid Senate adjourned for the year moments after its midnight deadline with Republicans shouting to be allowed to talk about a hastily introduced tax bill. Minutes before adjournment, Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators met almost 19 weeks with one overriding job: Balance the state budget. They left the Capitol for the year Monday night, leaving Gov. Tim Pawlenty to finish the job, although in the 2009 legislative session's final three hours Democrats drew up a new $1 billion tax increase similar to one the governor already vetoed. A last-minute flurry of activity failed to nail down an overall state budget agreement, a failure Pawlenty said means he will cut spending on his own.
ST. PAUL - Flood prevention and recovery projects will be fully funded, but Gov. Tim Pawlenty trimmed a public works funding bill, saying legislators want to spend too much. The bill originally proposed spending $361 million, with $300 million coming from funds the state would borrow.
ST. PAUL -- Money talk became emotional Sunday as Minnesota representatives rejected overriding a veto that ends a state-funded health program for the state's poorest and sickest residents. Tears were plentiful in a hushed House chamber during touching stories of near-death and poverty-laced childhood experiences during a debate on Gov. Tim Pawlenty's $381 million veto of the General Assistance Medical Care program. The veto would eliminate the program in 2011, ending state-funded health care for up to 35,000 poor, childless adult Minnesotans.
ST. PAUL -- Roots of the word "allot" go back centuries in English, French and German languages. "Unallot," on the other hand, hardly can be found in a dictionary. But it is the most popular -- or unpopular, depending upon a person's political persuasion -- in the Minnesota Capitol these days. When Republican Gov.
ST. PAUL - The Minnesota legislative session could come to a smooth end if the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor could agree on a way to raise $1 billion. There is no sign that is about to happen. On Tuesday night, the costliest spending bills and revenue to fund them remained stumbling blocks to ending this year's session by Monday's constitutional deadline. But legislative leaders were determined to finish the outstanding budget bills - even without Gov. Tim Pawlenty's acceptance - and vote on them in what promises to be a marathon session today.
ST. PAUL -- Rep. Paul Marquart told fellow House-Senate tax negotiators that Jackson County, Minn., was named after territorial legislator Henry Jackson. "That's valuable information," Sen. Tom Bakk deadpanned, before informing the committee: "I spent a summer working for St. Louis County looking for old monuments." It is not exactly the conversation expected a week before the state constitution requires the year's legislative session to end -- at a time when lawmakers still must solve a $4.6 billion deficit as they write a $33 billion, two-year budget.