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's small-town grocery stores are closing at a rate that is expected to speed up as their owners age. In most cases, owners have no plans to transfer ownership, leaving communities without local stores. State Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, is seeking $10 million to help stop the exodus, although on Tuesday he admitted it is a big job in a year that new money is scarce.
ST. PAUL -- Getting a low-income family's infant off to the right start can make a big difference in that baby's life, a Minnesota House committee heard Tuesday as it considered funding a program to give items ranging from diapers to spoons. The box the items come in even can be used, as a bed for the newborn. The $500,000 state program would help a variety of babies, but especially minorities, bill sponsor Rep. Dave Pinto, D-St. Paul, said.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House lit up fireworks legislation Monday, but Senate Democrats and Gov. Mark Dayton are expected to douse the red glare. The House voted 73-56 Monday to allow the same type of fireworks in Minnesota that residents now travel to Wisconsin, South Dakota and North Dakota to buy to celebrate Independence Day. "This takes significant steps for Minnesotans to show their national pride," said bill sponsor Rep. Jason Rarick, decked out in a bright fireworks fire.
ST. PAUL -- Fantasy sports should be legal in Minnesota, the state House decided Monday. Representatives gave 100-28 approval to legislation that would specifically make it legal. Current law is not clear. "Right now, we have a lot of ambiguity," bill author Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, said. With nearly million Minnesotans playing fantasy sports, the state has more players proportionally than any other state.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota House Republicans want to keep the state's $42 billion, two-year budget -- passed last year -- pretty much as is, with any new spending coming out of existing programs. Unlike Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal, the GOP plan released Thursday offers no new money for education. The proposal calls for $35 million to help expand broadband high-speed Internet statewide, compared to Dayton's $100 million proposal.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans who do not graduate from high school no longer must pay for GED tests to receive the equivalent of a diploma. The state began paying for the tests in February and on Thursday Gov. Mark Dayton announced the aid will continue through June and he has asked the Legislature to approve another $120,000 to keep the program funded next year.
ST. PAUL -- Essar Steel missing a payment to Minnesota is one thing, but Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that even worse is skipping out on millions of dollars in bills owed to Iron Range businesses. Essar missed a $10 million payment to the state last week, but Dayton said estimates indicate the company owes $40 million to $50 million to area businesses. "I am very, very concerned," Dayton said. "I am extremely disappointed that Essar has proven to not be a good partner."
ST. PAUL -- Money is needed to end an epidemic of injuries being suffered in two state-run hospitals and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton puts the figure at $177 million. "We are walking around wounded and feel like punching bags," said Jackie Spanjers, a nurse at the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has added Mississippi to North Carolina as off limits to most official state travel. "It is a step backwards for this country," Dayton said about new laws that he considers anti-gay in the two states.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators are more than a third of the way through their 2016 session and just beginning to talk about taxes, always one of the Capitol's big issues. Senators Tuesday began digging into a Gov. Mark Dayton plan that centers on cutting taxes for up to 126,000 families who need help affording child care. His proposal, offered weeks ago, touches on a range of other issues, including ramping up enforcement of cigarette tax payments.