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 Gov. Mark Dayton has prostate cancer, he said at mid-day Tuesday, Jan. 24, before heading to a Mayo Clinic appointment after fainting during his State of the State speech Monday night. Dayton stunned reporters with the cancer announcement after unveiling his budget proposal for the next two years. He said that he does not think the cancer and fainting spell are related.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton collapsed during his State of the State speech Monday night, Jan. 23, but after a few minutes walked away with help. An hour later, he was playing a puzzle with his grandson at his official state residence. "He quickly recovered, walked out of the Capitol, and returned home," his chief of staff, Jaime Tincher, said an hour and a half after the incident. "EMTs joined the governor there, and performed a routine check. He is now spending time with his son and grandson."
ST. PAUL—Rural Minnesota may never have been mentioned so often in a state Senate debate not about a specific rural issue. Small towns and farmers were featured Thursday, Jan. 12, before senators passed 35-31 legislation to help Minnesotans afford individual health insurance policies. Rural residents like farmers tend to rely on individual policies more than do those living in cities.
ST. PAUL — More than 200,000 Minnesotans soon will receive tax breaks Minnesota senators passed legislation 66-0 Thursday, Jan. 12, to cut taxes by making state tax law conform with federal law. The House already took the same action to help Minnesotans who are beginning to file income tax returns.
ST. PAUL—A tweaked 2016 tax proposal that never made it into law is back. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said on Thursday, Jan. 5, that his plan calls for $230 million in a variety of tax cuts and $70 million in new spending for things such as increased state aid to local governments. It is based on a bill most legislators backed last year, but Dayton opted not to sign after a $101 million mistake was discovered in it.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is bringing back a public works funding bill much like he offered last year, on Wednesday, Jan. 4, proposing to spend $1.5 billion on projects ranging from water treatment plants to fixing college buildings. "These projects have a direct economic benefit," the governor told reporters in a conference call, promising to fight for the projects.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota may continue to put some of the worst sex offenders in prison-like facilities after they complete their sentences, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, Jan. 3. The decision reverses a Minnesota-based federal judge's 2015 ruling that the practice was unconstitutional because it, in effect, extended prison sentences.
ST. PAUL—2017 dawned on the Minnesota Capitol with bright sun Sunday, Jan. 1, illuminating the newly renovated building. But the sparkle dimmed as clouds moved in Sunday, followed by a dreary, wintry Monday for most Minnesotans. Was that a forecast of things to come in the 2017 state Legislature, which begins at noon Tuesday? That is impossible to predict, but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republicans who control the Legislature have a stormy past. "I think it will be a difficult session because we have very stark differences," Dayton said.
ST. PAUL—What happens in Washington doesn't stay in Washington. A new president and a stronger Republican Congress are expected to make major changes in the federal budget, which Minnesota state budget writers said on Friday, Dec. 2, will affect their work. But they do not know how. "There is probably more than the usual range of uncertainty here," said Chairman Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, of the House Ways and Means Committee as state officials reacted to news of a projected $1.4 billion budget surplus.
WASHINGTON—Many American farmers are thankful today for an Obama administration decision to boost the amount of renewable fuels, such as made from corn and soybeans, in the country's gasoline and diesel supply. The Wednesday, Nov. 23 announcement was a turnaround for the Environmental Protection Agency, which earlier planned to require less renewable fuel to be mixed with gas and diesel.