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 — A stick or rabbit dropping in the yard of a Minnesota child care center, or a crayon mark on a table, may be enough to get a citation from state regulators. That is going too far, child care center workers told a state Senate committee Wednesday, March 28, and senators agreed. "If you truly want to stop the child care crisis now ... then you need to hold the Department of Human Services accountable," Elizabeth Bangert of the Here We Grow child care center in Mankato told a Senate health and human services committee.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's broadband situation is better than some other states but 12 percent of Minnesotans, mostly in greater Minnesota, have internet connection speeds slower than the state standard. "We're not taking the elevator, we are taking the stairs on this one," General Manager Dave Wolf of Gardonville Telephone Co-op of the Alexandria area said Wednesday, March 28, standing alongside Gov. Mark Dayton and other broadband advocates.
ST. PAUL—A Republican effort to short-circuit the approval process for the Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota drew fire at a state House hearing. "We have a series of checks and balances," Michele Naar of Duluth told the House jobs and energy committee Tuesday, March 27. "We have processes and we have requirements that are set up to protect the people and the land."
ST. PAUL—Minnesota farmers are committing suicide in numbers that rival the low days of agriculture during the 1980s farm crisis. "Unfortunately, there is no end in sight," Meg Moynihan of the state Agriculture Department told the House Agriculture Finance Committee Tuesday, March 27. Moynihan coordinates the Farm and Rural Helpline, (833) 600-2670, which provides rural residents a place to call when they experience mental health problems.
ST. PAUL — Tens of thousands of Minnesota state workers will get a raise after the House and Senate approved negotiated contracts. Senators voted 56-10 Monday, May 26, to bump up pay for more than 30,000 workers by 2 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The House followed a few hours later with a 93-33 vote. About half of workers are eligible for other increases, too, Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said. The raises will not increase taxes, Sen. Erik Simonson, D-Duluth, said because the added pay would come out of existing budgets.
ST. PAUL — Many Minnesota government pension plans are paying out more than they are taking in. State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, says that is troubling. Her colleagues agreed Monday, March 26, when they unanimously approved her bill that increases funding going into the pension plans and slightly cuts some benefits. While senators were together on the issue, the pension bill has not received a House committee hearing. Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend $27 million to help shore up public pensions.
ST. PAUL — State and local governmental decisions often are felt more than things happening in Washington, but not in recent days. Minnesotans, especially rural ones, are focused on Congress, the White House and other locales in the country's capital. The farm bill, foreign trade, taxes and countless other issues have people worried, or at least curious, about what may happen out East.
ST. PAUL — Money appears headed to state agencies trying to fix a computer software problem that has frustrated Minnesotans making motor vehicle license and registration transactions. The Senate and House on Thursday, March 22, approved a $10 million immediate influx for state agencies working on the software, but another $33 million is being requested for use beginning July 1. Gov. Mark Dayton said he can sign the bill.
ST. PAUL — Many students say gun restrictions can help keep them safer in schools, but the Minnesota legislative conversation on safe schools has broadened to other issues, some of which bring tears when people talk about them. "We are facing a public health crisis," Carol Quinn told the state House Education Finance Committee Wednesday, March 21, with tear-filled eyes.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton seldom says he would veto a bill, but if it reaches his desk he promises to veto House-passed legislation to get the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System running smoothly. The measure representatives passed late Monday afternoon would take money from other agencies to fix the Public Safety Department program. Dayton said on Tuesday, March 20, that he refuses to let lawmakers "cannibalize" other departments' budgets to fix MNLARS.