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
- 5 years 5 months
ST. PAUL -- 2017 dawned on the Minnesota Capitol with bright sun Sunday, Jan. 1, illuminating the newly renovated building. But the sparkle dimmed as clouds moved in Sunday, followed by a dreary, wintry Monday for most Minnesotans. Was that a forecast of things to come in the 2017 state Legislature, which begins at noon Tuesday? That is impossible to predict, but Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota legislators express nearly universal agreement that state roads and bridges need an infusion of money, but a deep divide about where to get the funds prevented action the last two years. The same disagreement exists as the 2017 legislative session begins, leaving in question whether anything significant and long term will be accomplished in transportation. Minnesota's roads face an estimated $16 billion funding gap over the next 20 years, according to calculations from the state Department of Transportation.
ST. PAUL—Preferred One dropped out. So did UCare. Blue Cross Blue Shield stopped offering its regular policies. Medica says it no longer will supply insurance for a state-run health insurance program. "We almost lost all of the private insurers over the summer," Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton hopes 2017 will not be another 2011. "I am scarred by that experience," the Democratic governor said about the 2011 three-week state government shutdown after he and Republicans controlling the Legislature could not agree on a new two-year budget. He faces a similar situation in 2017, with Republicans gaining control of the state Senate in the Nov. 8 election and increasing their lock on the House.
RIGA, Latvia—Russia will pay the price for meddling in the American election, a trio of U.S. senators warned Wednesday, Dec. 28, while visiting countries on the country's western border. "We have all agreed to be pretty aggressive about an end to this Russian aggression," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said about the Obama administration's claim that Russia hacked political groups' computers, including the Democratic Party, before the Nov. 8 election. Klobuchar, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Wildly popular 2016 Minnesota tax legislation would have cut farmland property taxes, increased state aid to local governments, handed tax breaks to a spouse of a disabled military veteran, reduced state property taxes and made dozens of other tax-related changes.
ST. PAUL—Billions of dollars in state public works construction projects are on hold, and no one knows if the Minnesota Legislature will make money available for them in 2017. The 2016 Minnesota Legislature failed to fund projects like safer rail crossings, adding to and renovating existing college facilities, improving safety at state mental health hospitals, fixing or removing dangerous dams, constructing flood-prevention structures and hundreds of other projects state and local officials say are needed.
ST. PAUL – The state entity that owns the new U.S. Bank Stadium is moving in the right direction in banning free luxury suite tickets for its officials’ family and friends in Gov. Mark Dayton’s view. “I think it is a very responsible way to resolve the matter,” he said Tuesday, Dec. 13, after the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority announced it is working on a revised policy following Minneapolis Star Tribune stories revealing family and friends of authority officials received free access to a pair of luxury boxes.
WASHINGTON — Keith Ellison confirmed Wednesday, Dec. 7, that he would resign from the U.S. House if he is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The Minneapolis Democrat earlier had said he has the energy to remain a congressman while running the party. In recent days, however, he backed down from that and on Wednesday released a statement saying that he would quit his congressional job if elected.
ST. PAUL—What happens in Washington doesn't stay in Washington. A new president and a stronger Republican Congress are expected to make major changes in the federal budget, which Minnesota state budget writers said on Friday, Dec. 2, will affect their work. But they do not know how. "There is probably more than the usual range of uncertainty here," said Chairman Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, of the House Ways and Means Committee as state officials reacted to news of a projected $1.4 billion budget surplus.