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 -- 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.
ST. PAUL -- Republican Minnesota representatives propose spending $35 million to expand broadband high-speed Internet in the state, far less than Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Senate Democrats want. "Minnesotans are going to see a historic amount of broadband investment this year," Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators are ready to put specific numbers to their budget plans, which so far mostly have been generic rhetoric. Senate Democrats Wednesday released their budget-change proposals, adding about $800 million to the state budget, a figure aligning much closer to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's plan than one issued last week by Republicans who control the House.
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.