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 3 months
ST. PAUL -- Paul Torkelson needs to come up with quite a sales pitch. As chairman of the Minnesota House committee that recommends funding for public works projects, he needs to both attract reluctant fellow Republicans, some of whom never have voted for such a bill, and Democrats who say they were left out of the legislation drafting process. The public works bill, to be funded by the state selling bonds, gained no Democratic votes when it passed out of two GOP-controlled committees Wednesday.
ST. PAUL -- At least they are talking. State leaders expanded budget talks Tuesday to deal with major money issues remaining before the Minnesota Legislature adjourns Monday. Talks had focused on transportation funding, but facing the adjournment deadline negotiators began to also discuss public works funding, tax cuts and budget changes. Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders met behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon and night.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans likely will pay higher vehicle license fees if the governor and lawmakers reach a transportation funding deal this year. Passing a funding bill is a big "if" after Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton Monday offered two transportation funding plans that he called compromises, both with higher tab fees and both rejected by the Legislature's top Republican as being too heavy on taxes. One of his plans dropped a proposed 16-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax increase to a nickel and the other eliminated a new gas tax.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans likely will pay higher vehicle license fees if the governor and lawmakers reach a transportation funding deal this year. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton Monday offered two transportation funding plans that he called compromises, and both contained higher tab fees. Senate Democrats already have included that in their plan and the House transportation chairman has said that raising tab fees is possible.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans who forget to buy booze will remain out of luck on Sundays after the state House Thursday rejected a proposal to allow liquor stores to be open seven days a week. The proposal failed 70-57 as an amendment to a small bill with other liquor-related provisions that unanimously passed. The major argument against Sunday sales was that it would hurt small liquor stores. Opponents say it would force them to remain open seven days if they are to remain competitive.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota state House wants lawmakers to have more control of Iron Range economic development programs. Representatives voted 74-52 Thursday to replace the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board with a new, strictly advisory, panel while giving more oversight to the full Legislature. Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, authored the bill to demote the board. Many decisions the current board makes would fall to the agency commissioner and, to some extent, the entire Legislature.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators tossed legislation legalizing online fantasy sports out of bounds Thursday, perhaps keeping it on the sidelines this year. "Once you pass this, you give it legal standing," Senate Tax Chairman Rod Skoe, D-Clearbrook, said as his committee appeared to be set to defeat the bill. Senate President Sandy Pappas, D-St. Paul, saw that her bill was in danger, given opposition from Skoe and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislative tax negotiators gained more topics to discuss Wednesday when senators approved 37-30 a tax bill containing items ranging from requiring many businesses to provide paid family leave to expanding Internet sales taxes. The provisions of the bill authored by Sen. Rod Skoe, D-Clearbrook, will land in a House-Senate conference committee already established to discuss tax issues lawmakers approved last year.
ST. PAUL -- The key to finishing the 2016 Minnesota legislative session remains short of the ignition switch. Legislative leaders say the key to wrapping up all major issues before the constitutional May 23 adjournment date is figuring out how to infuse new money into transportation. Negotiators met Wednesday, adjourning after an hour with no sign they are ready to wrap up transportation issues.
ST. PAUL -- Police body camera video generally would be kept secret in a Minnesota House bill a committee approved 11-2 Tuesday, reviving a measure once thought to be done for the year. With less than two weeks left in the 2016 legislative session, it was not clear if there is time to pass the controversial bill. The bill is to be heard by a second House committee Wednesday. The Senate has passed its version of the measure.