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 — The 1,700-population community of Osakis could find itself paying $11 million in sewage treatment plant work, a cost one city official told Minnesota lawmakers the city cannot afford. If the facility is built, Osakis Public Works Superintendent Kurt Haakinson said, his $100,000 annual wastewater budget would balloon by $80,000 a month to pay off construction costs. And, he said, there would be "zero benefit to be gained on the city side."
ST. PAUL—It is personal for Rod Hamilton. The Minnesota state representative, a multiple sclerosis patient for 20 years, cannot get a committee chairman to consider a bill he says will help people like him who depend on prescription medicine.
ST. PAUL—Thousands of Minnesotans play daily fantasy sports, but it is not clear whether the activity is legal. Bills in the Minnesota Legislature would list them legal as well as place regulations on operators of the games. "It puts important guardrails around the industry," Scott Ward told a House committee Thursday, March 9, before lawmakers passed it on to another panel. Ward, who represents fantasy sports juggernauts FanDuel and DraftKings, said 10 states have passed laws similar to what Minnesota lawmakers are considering.
ST. PAUL — A letter to the editor could lead to ethics charges against a Minnesota state senator. Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, said on Thursday, March 9, that he is considering asking the Senate Ethics Committee to find that Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen violated rules that ban misleading or untrue comments about a colleague.
ST. PAUL—The Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature appears ready to ban bag bans. A House committee last week voted 10-7 to stop ordinances such as Minneapolis has enacted and some Duluth residents want that stop stores from putting customers' purchases in plastic bags. A Senate committee on Tuesday, March 7, heard arguments for and against the idea, laying legislation over for potential inclusion in an overall environment bill.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's prostate-removal surgery was successful Thursday, March 2, his office reported. "Gov. Dayton's surgery went as planned," Dayton's Deputy Chief of Staff Linden Zakula said. "The procedure concluded at approximately 11:30 this morning. The governor is resting comfortably at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. As he recovers, he will be joined by his family and remain at the hospital overnight." Dayton was diagnosed with prostate cancer last month and opted to have the prostate removed over other treatment options.
ST. PAUL — Bright spots abound in Minnesota's economy: Strong job demand pushes up wages, home sales are increasing, taconite from northeast Minnesota is selling again and people appear to be willing to shop. But predicting the economy's future, and its impact on state government finances, is rendered impossible given uncertainty about what the president and Congress may do.
ST. PAUL—A White Earth Nation judge will join the Minnesota State board of trustees. Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday, Feb. 22, named George W. Soule to fill a vacancy on the board of what had been known as the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. "George Soule has had a very distinguished career bringing justice and opportunity to people throughout Minnesota," Dayton said. "I believe that Mr. Soule will bring this dedication to ensuring excellent higher education and career training opportunities for all students at Minnesota State."
ST. PAUL—Midwestern members of Congress worry about what the Trump administration may do about agriculture-related issues, especially a law requiring use of crop-based fuel. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said she drove home that point during a recent meeting with agriculture secretary nominee Sonny Perdue. Also, a bipartisan group of representatives sent a letter to President Donald Trump saying the Renewable Fuel Standard law is critical.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans are closer than ever to being able to buy from liquor stores on Sundays, but state senators still need to weigh in.