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 legislators face a dilemma: Can they spend money from a tight budget to eliminate poverty by 2020? If they spend money now, Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, said, more people would go to work and the state's economy would improve. But since lawmakers are not likely to start many new spending programs in light of a several-billion budget deficit, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said they can start the process by looking at improvements that cost little.
ST. PAUL -- Marty Seifert took an early lead in the first statewide measure of Minnesota's Republican 2010 governor race. The state representative from Marshall collected 37 percent of the vote in a GOP state convention straw poll, a convincing victory in a nine-candidate field. Finishing second was Rep. Tom Emmer, getting 23 percent in the non-binding poll. In third with 14 percent was former State Auditor Pat Anderson.
ST. LOUIS PARK -- Amy Klobuchar needed to outfit her apartment when she moved to Washington as a U.S. senator. So the Minnesota Democrat headed to a nearby store "looking for cheap furniture" and bought an assemble-it-yourself "fake antique" cabinet. "It smelled weird" when she removed it from the box, she said. However, it began to become pungent as her first Washington summer began to heat up. She returned the item and received a refund, but that is just the beginning of her story.
ST. PAUL - There is a political buzz this fall unlike any ever heard around Minnesota. Fourteen months before the next election, the state's political establishment is talking about the governor's race, talk that started the afternoon of June 2 when Tim Pawlenty announced he would not run for a third term. In a packed room just off his office, Pawlenty said the decision came early so others could get into the race. They did. Potential Republican candidates' names began to emerge as soon as Pawlenty was done speaking.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House Capitol Investment Committee has started its tour of potential public works projects. A similar Senate committee also is making such a tour, looking over an expected $3 billion in requests to fund items ranging from new passenger rail lines to fixing college buildings' roofs. The House committee chairwoman said such public works projects, funded by the state selling bonds, will help create jobs. "Jumpstarting Minnesota's economy remains our highest priority in both the short and long term," Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said.
ST. PAUL -- It was a strange Minnesota State Fair this year, politically at least. There generally is not much political activity in a non-election year, like 2009. But with a couple dozen candidates in or getting ready to jump into the 2010 governor's race, many were interested in getting face time with fair-goers. Candidates and potential candidates found plenty of reasons to be at the fair. Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau was one of them, although the farmer always spends a lot of time there.
FALCON HEIGHTS -- Two Minnesota state commissioners put on their best wild west sheriff impersonations, complete with cowboy hats, to show how to prevent flu from spreading. Lt. Gov.
FALCON HEIGHTS -- Minnesota 4-H officials sent 120 youths to their homes across the state from the State Fair today after some came down with the H1N1 flu. Four 4-H members and one staffer early today were confirmed as having the new flu. In all, 14 4-H'ers went home sick, but not all were tested to confirm whether their illnesses were of the flu that is affecting youths around the world. About 120 4-H members were sent home because they stayed in a fair dormitory with those who became ill. None of the ill 4-H members and one staffer are thought to be seriously ill.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's biggest anti-tax group bought billboard space to promote its cause to people headed to Minnesota's biggest get-together. The Taxpayers League of Minnesota bought billboards along streets leading to the state fairgrounds. "Our first billboards highlight Minnesota Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson-Kelliher and her efforts to raise taxes by $1.5 billion dollars," league President Phil Krinkie said. The billboards proclaim: "She thinks you're not paying enough in taxes." It refers to bills that would have raised taxes $1.5 billion.