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 -- Long lines and angry Minnesotans trying to attend March 1 precinct caucuses may lead to the state adopting a presidential primary election. "I don't think anybody really saw that coming," Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, said Wednesday about the packed caucuses. "What we ran into is we were not adequately prepared."
ST. PAUL -- Chester Jacobson sat at a Minnesota Senate committee witness table, reading his wife's words to legislators: "We should have the right to die peacefully on our own terms." Bobbi Jacobson of Richfield sat nearby in a wheelchair Wednesday, unable to talk because she suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS. She wants the right to administer drugs to herself when it is time to die, but state law forbids that.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House speaker says he thinks an Iron Range unemployment insurance extension could land on the governor's desk this week. However, details remain to be worked out and Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said that effort continues. The major issue is whether the extension can pass in a bill separate from a provision that would reform a trust fund, filled by taxes on businesses, that provides money for unemployment benefits. "Whether it goes as one bill or two bills has yet to be decided," Daudt said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proposes increasing budgets for items ranging from pre-kindergarten programs to broadband to security needs. Dayton on Tuesday announced changes he wants to make in a $42 billion, two-year budget he and legislators approved last year. The most important items, he said, are to increase security in the troubled St. Peter and Anoka state hospitals, as well as adding personnel to the Corrections Department.
ST. PAUL -- A two-part bill to extend Iron Range unemployment benefits and reform a trust fund that pays the benefits appears destined to be negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee. After legislative leaders promised to deal with the issue in the session's first week, the differences remain unchanged as the second week begins.
ST. PAUL -- Greater Minnesota has lots at stake in a legislative transportation funding debate. Senate Democrats said Monday that it is not just about roads and bridges. They said that rural transit also needs more money. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, said that last fall he moved his mother into a senior citizen apartment and quickly discovered there is no van or bus service to the regional center of Virginia.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislative leaders have found few areas of agreement since they convened the 2106 session Tuesday, but they do agree that Minnesota students should know basic civics before graduating from high school. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, said he came to that conclusion after spending an hour with former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a small group. She promoted using the test that people must pass before becoming new citizens.
ST. PAUL -- Two Iron Range senators made emotional pleas Thursday to extend unemployment benefits for thousands of men and women who have lost jobs due to a steel price crisis, and senators responded by passing the legislation 62-3. "I wish we weren't here with this bill," Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, said because it means his Iron Range is in trouble.
ST. PAUL -- A new effort to require background checks on all Minnesota gun buyers began Thursday, but gun owner groups, Republicans and some rural Democrats may have difficulty backing it. Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Everytown Survivor Network gathered Democratic lawmakers, law enforcement personnel and prosecutors to promote the attempt. "We are not targeting the Second Amendment," said Democratic Rep. Dan Schoen, a Cottage Grove police officer.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton laid out a plan for the 2016 legislative session Wednesday night, ranging from expanding broadband high-speed Internet to increasing education funding to cleaning the state's water. The Democrat said little new in his annual State of the State speech, delivered at the University of Minnesota, but he clearly showed his differences with Republicans on many fronts.