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
- 4 years 5 months
ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislators actually can work together. Sure, the media mostly covers things when Democrats and Republicans disagree. But there have been several bills to gain broad bipartisan support, and one major piece of legislation actually passed the House unanimously. The House voted 131-0 in favor of spending $500 million of sales tax receipts Minnesotans authorized in a 2008 vote for clean water, arts, culture, outdoors and parks projects.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota state auditor says Roseau and Hubbard county financial audits conducted by private accountants need to be done again, but a report containing the recommendation has received plenty of pushback. "We are watching out for the taxpayers," Auditor Rebecca Otto said in a Tuesday, April 4, interview. The report she issued has page after page of what she said are problems with audits in eight counties of the 26 that use private auditors instead of her office.
ST. PAUL—Rules governing high school students who transfer so they can play on better sports teams need to be tightened, a state audit recommends. The Office of Legislative Auditor said the Minnesota State High School League and Legislature should make law, rules and procedure changes so student transfers can be handled fairly. "We think the league needs to have more transparency in its rule making processes," Judy Randall of the auditor's office told the House Education Innovation Policy Committee Tuesday, April 4.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans have time to lobby state leaders about wildly varying tax cuts proposals. State senators on Monday, April 3, approved 40-27 cutting taxes $900 million, following last week's House 80-52 vote in favor of a $1.35 billion cut. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's $300 million plan comes in below the tax cuts promoted by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The $1 billion difference could be in negotiations until near the constitutional May 22 legislative adjournment date.
ST. PAUL — Maybe the third time is a charm. That is the hope of Minnesotans who are tired of dodging potholes and daily fighting other road and transit woes. The state House and Senate have approved Republican-written transportation funding bills that greatly vary from what Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton wants. But despite having passed their legislation, it is more of a beginning. "We have to start somewhere," House Transportation Chairman Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said Friday, March 31.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's 2018 governor race so far focuses on rural Minnesota, where Republicans did so well in last November's election. A former Republican legislator, who remains involved in politics, said that Democrats could benefit from U.S. Rep. Tim Walz entering the race. The Mankato congressman is his party's best chance to win a significant number of votes in rural Minnesota, the ex-lawmaker said. Others agree with the assessment because Walz is the only Democratic greater Minnesota candidate thus far.
ST. PAUL—Environmental legislation going through the Minnesota Legislature could face trouble if it reaches Gov. Mark Dayton. The Democratic governor has said he strongly opposes a change in his signature environmental policy, requiring vegetative buffers around the state's waters. Bills by the Republican House and Senate would change and delay the 2-year-old law, along with making other environment-related changes the governor may not like. "I'll veto any bill that has any gutting or delay in the buffers," Dayton has said.
ST. PAUL—U.S. Rep. Tim Walz says he is running for governor, giving Democrats a candidate from greater Minnesota, where Republicans dominated in 2016. Walz made his announcement in a Monday morning, March 27, interview with the Post-Bulletin of Rochester. "I think now more than ever people are just wanting (government) to work," Walz said. "They are not looking for the partisanship. They are not looking for me to have all the answers, but they are certainly looking for me to bring people together to find those solutions that we all know are there."
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Legislature is moving at warp speed, at least for a while. This is the time of the legislative session in which House and Senate finance committees pump out bill after bill to finance state government to the tune of more than $45 billion for the next two years. Even experienced lobbyists have trouble following the process, so most Minnesotans likely would be totally lost. Here are some quick facts about where things stand in the Legislature's effort to craft a budget:
ST. PAUL — The debate is familiar to Minnesotans: Keep or dump MNsure, the controversial state-run program that sells individual health insurance policies. Now, Minnesota leaders also are looking at a middle ground that would keep a state insurance sales program, but turn much of the work over to private business. The proposal by Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, somewhat resembles a route MNsure itself is considering, but enough questions remained at week's end to make it unclear how much chance it has.