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
- 3 years 10 months
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Legislature is racing toward a self-imposed Friday budget deadline amid protesters fearing Wisconsin-type anti-union laws, Republicans bucking their party chairman by proposing racinos and key lawmakers saying their budget plans will not be finished by Friday. "Welcome to Phase One of a yet-to-be-determined number of phases, I fear," Chairman Jim Abeler of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee said Monday as he introduced his budget plan. The Anoka Republican said that his proposal will change before reaching Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton's desk.
ST. PAUL -- Republican state budget plans will become clear this week, although no one expects the governor to agree. A week ago, the GOP released a budget outline, and legislative committees now are debating details. Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said that Republicans who control the Legislature will send their own budget bills to Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's speeches these days contain one sure-fire applause line: "We're not Wisconsin." That is true, and Minnesotans appreciate the fact that thousands of protesters have not descended on their Capitol.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota policymakers want to quickly launch a long-discussed war on plants and animals invading the state. Asian carp, including ones that jump out of the water and hit boaters, are the most publicized invasive species. While those carp have not arrived in Minnesota, much smaller zebra mussels, spiny waterfleas and the Eurasian watermilfoil plant already are common in areas. "Once they take over, it is too late," Governor Mark Dayton said Wednesday as he joined lawmakers to support a $4 million-a-year plan to fight the invasion.
ST. PAUL -- A Minnesota House committee that usually approves spending money to build government facilities voted Tuesday to call back $59 million already approved from as far back as 1994. The bill would stop some long-planned rail and trail projects in their tracks, as well as others that have not started as quickly as some lawmakers want. The bill also cancels spending that no longer is needed. Saving money is the reason behind the effort, House Capital Investment Chairman Larry Howes, R-Walker, said.
ST. PAUL -- Whether Minnesota retailers should sell alcohol on Sundays will be debated by a Senate committee, perhaps the first time that has happened. Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, promotes the idea after seeing Minnesotans drive over bridges to buy booze in Superior, Wisconsin.
ST. PAUL -- Larry Shellito became the first Gov. Mark Dayton commissioner to be confirmed as the Senate voted for him to continue as leader of the state Veterans' Affairs Department. "I can think of no better leader to serve Minnesota veterans than the one who led them in many of the challenges of the last several years," Sen. Ted Daley, R-Eagan, said before the unanimous Senate voice vote. Shellito, 65, was state adjutant general seven years, in charge of the National Guard, before retiring last year.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota public employees would pay more toward their pensions in a bill unions say is like one in Wisconsin that drew national attention. Sens. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, and Mike Parry, R-Waseca, introduced their bill Monday as a way to help plug a $5 billion state budget deficit by reducing state expenses. "This will help the funds stay viable," Hoffman said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota income taxes would fall $300 million in the next two years under a House Republican plan, while state payments to local governments drop significantly. The proposal, to receive a House Tax Committee vote late this week, eliminates Local Government Aid for Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as Twin Cities suburbs, by 2015.