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—A new requirement for farmers to provide plant buffers around water has bubbled up to be a top rural issue in the Minnesota Capitol, and not necessarily politically partisan. Farmers need more information before the buffer law begins Nov. 1, a Democratic-leaning farm group reports farmers said during a series of 14 meetings around the state. One of the major topics the Minnesota Farmers Union meetings highlighted was Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's buffer initiative that lawmakers approved in 2015.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota court system's leader says she fears state residents will feel an impact if legislative budget proposes become law. Chief Justice Lorie Gildea of the Minnesota Supreme Court said she does not want to return to the days when criminals were set free because courts could not wade through cases quickly enough. "Justice delayed is justice denied," the Plummer native said, recalling tough budget times in 2011 when some criminal cases were stalled so long that suspects were released.
ST. PAUL — Transportation funding is confusing and controversial, and Minnesota state leaders say vital. Democrats and Republicans have remained so far apart on the issue for years that little has been done to plug what is called an $18 billion gap between current spending and what is needed over the next decade. The past week may or may not have clarified the situation.
ST. PAUL—A closed western Minnesota private prison would be allowed to take state prisoners under a proposal in front of legislative budget negotiators, but there would be no money to open it. "We still plan on Appleton, full speed ahead," House Public Safety Chairman Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said, although there would be no money to open it. He said on Thursday, April 20, as public safety and courts funding negotiations began that money to open the prison would need to come from a future legislature.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota communities could not regulate wages, benefits or employee scheduling under legislation that appears headed to Gov. Mark Dayton. Bill sponsor Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said that it would not hamper local control, as critics say. "I am all for local control and I don't think you can get any more local than relationships between employers and employees." But opponents of the measure said cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul that already have enacted employee rules should have that ability.
ST. PAUL—Beth Hodgman pleaded that southern Minnesota's U.S. 14 be made safer. "Drivers make mistakes, but they shouldn't be life sentences," the West Concord widow told a Wednesday, April 19, rally seeking more state highway funding. Hodgman's husband, Scott, died in 2012 on the highway, which legislators in the area for years have put at the top of their priorities. "Scott's accident shouldn't have been fatal," Hodgman said. "If Highway 14 had been expanded to four lanes, it wouldn't have been."
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans who like neat hair may not like it, but the state blessed with strong winds is saving money by using it to create more electricity every year. The American Wind Energy Association announced Wednesday, April 19 that more than 15 percent of the state's electricity comes from wind power. That figure is predicted to double by 2021. Minnesota's largest electric utility, Xcel Energy, produces 19 percent of its power by wind, expected to increase to 34 percent in five years.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's Democratic governor admitted he probably will accept a Republican transportation funding plan he does not like, rural lawmakers said they heard loud and clear during a holiday break that farmers want buffer law changes and ralliers chanted support for the House Democratic leader's comments critical of white men who did not listen to women of color. Tuesday, April 18, was the first day of the 2017 Minnesota Legislature's home stretch, with a goal of reaching agreement on a $46 billion, two-year budget before a May 22 adjournment date.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's ability to get products to market will be at risk if state lawmakers and the governor fail to break a transportation funding impasse, county officials warn. "Our harvest, timber and manufactured products have gained and held leadership positions in world markets because we have historically been able to move products out of the field, forest and factory more efficiently than competitors," Douglas County Commissioner Jim Stratton said. "But that is rapidly changing as time is catching up with decades of underfunding our local road system."
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans involved in the once-every-decade federal census say now is time to take action so people do not find themselves victims of a bad 2020 April fool's joke. In 2020, April 1 is Census Day, when all Americans are supposed to be counted in a ritual required by the U.S. Constitution. But some in Minnesota fear that federal funding shortfalls, using the internet to fill out census forms and other factors could mean many Minnesotans will be missed.