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
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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers do not agree on how much to spend on public works projects, but also do not agree on what projects should be funded. An example Monday was whether the state should fund a new social services building and school on the Red Lake American Indian Reservation.
ST. PAUL -- How Minnesota can provide billions of dollars to fix roads and provide for other transportation needs in the next decade may become clearer within a week. House Transportation Chairman Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, said Senate and House negotiators probably will meet at least twice in the next week to begin working out spending details. That comes after many lawmakers ran in 2014 saying transportation was a top priority, but they reached no agreement last year and have produced no obvious progress so far this year.
ST. PAUL -- Replacing the Iron Range's long time economic development board with a panel wielding less power on Thursday passed its first Minnesota House test. But opposition arose on issues including whether information the new board creates would be public and if there really is a need for change. The measure passed on a split voice vote, and has other committee stops before it can be taken up by the full House.
ST. PAUL -- Abortion. Transportation. Exploding trains and pipelines. Thursday brought a potpourri of hot-button issues to Minnesota legislative debate. Lawmakers often avoided dry money talk in spending hours debating tweaks to the current two-year, $42 billion budget. Instead, they fell back on tried and true controversies and attention-grabbing issues as they prepare for the final three weeks of the 2016 legislative session.
ST. PAUL -- Ten percent of Litchfield School District students are so far away from high-speed Internet connections that they cannot to do all of their homework. Superintendent Daniel Frazier on Wednesday said students in his area are luckier than many in rural Minnesota. Students who live in areas with mobile telephone signals so weak that wireless hotspots would be ineffective are out of luck. Other students live out of range of wired high-speed service, too, but may be able to connect to cell towers.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Senate Tax Committee is considering giving a private business that buys the abandoned Duluth Central High School tax breaks to develop it. Duluth school leaders decided in 2008 to close Central and other schools, but the high school has not been sold. Sen. Roger Reinert, D-Duluth, said Tuesday that Central "has million-dollar views, but multi-million-dollar" needs.
ST. PAUL -- Legislation requiring most Minnesota businesses to provide paid family leave to workers is on hold until new cost estimates are available. "It looks a lot to me like MNsure math," Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said Tuesday, referring to the controversial state-run online health insurance sales program that critics say cost far more than expected.
ST. PAUL -- Cleaning up Minnesota's water takes more than new laws, Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday while proclaiming this as Water Action Week. Ultimately, he said, it will take a new ethic to make needed changes to prevent pollution. "I am hoping that this ethic will become such that anyone (not showing that ethic) will stand out as an exemption and not the norm," Dayton said.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Legislature is close to cleaning up misunderstandings in a law meant to clean up the state's water. Senators on Thursday passed legislation 61-0 making it clear that vegetative buffers will not be required along private ditches. The measure also clears up other issues that raised questions about the nearly year-old buffer law, many coming from farmers who did not know what they would be required to do to meet the law. The House is expected to pass the bill next week and Gov. Mark Dayton could sign it into law soon.
ST. PAUL -- A celebration is planned for the fall of 2017 to celebrate the re-opening of the Minnesota Capitol. The building, which opened in 1905 after a $4.5 million construction project, is all but closed as hundreds of construction workers do everything from updating obsolete systems to restoring artwork. The restoration's latest price tag is $310 million.