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 -- Nearly all Minnesota lawmakers say the state should extend unemployment benefits to laid-off Iron Range workers, but the state House failed to provide the help on its opening day Tuesday It was a raucous first day as greater Minnesota stepped into the spotlight minutes after the House and Senate were gaveled in on the latest day a Legislature ever has begun its regular session. The House spent nearly three hours debating the unemployment issue, while senators argued about whether a new committee yanks authority away from greater Minnesota.
ST. PAUL -- Construction workers in hardhats roved around the Minnesota House chamber Tuesday morning, less than an hour before the 2016 session began, conducting last-minute checks on microphones and voting buttons. It was a sign of a House meeting in a construction zone this year. The Rev. Richard Buller of Valley Community Presbyterian Church in Golden Valley offered the opening prayer, urging God to give representatives "a big dose of patience."
ST. PAUL — Transportation. Taxes. Public works projects. Education. Water quality. That is merely the beginning of the list of topics Minnesota lawmakers want to consider when they return to session Tuesday. It is not a much different list than other years, but the time to accomplish anything is limited, mostly because of a $304 million Capitol renovation that has closed everything but the House chamber, one elevator and hallways allowing people to get to the chamber.
ST. PAUL — It appears two issues will be up for debate almost as soon as Minnesota legislators return for their 2016 session Tuesday: extending Iron Range unemployment benefits and overturning a gag rule preventing key state officials from working toward making Minnesota identification cards meet federal standards. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, has promised to pass legislation to give miners 26 more weeks of unemployment benefits.
ST. PAUL -- Packed precinct caucuses, and reports that thousands left in frustration due to overcrowding, are leading more Minnesota political leaders to push a presidential primary election. The latest is Chairman Ken Martin of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, who on Friday said he would support a modified primary system, connected to the state's traditional caucuses. Republican state Chairman Keith Downey said he is open to looking at change.
ST. PAUL -- More than 250,000 Minnesotans could show up at precinct caucuses Tuesday to pick presidential favorites and make other political decisions.
ST. PAUL -- Anti-pipeline protesters interrupted Gov. Mark Dayton Saturday as he spoke to more than 800 Minnesotans at a summit about how to clean the state's water. A half dozen people representing environmental and American Indian groups carrying signs saying "Love water, not oil" went up on stage, while others stood in front of Dayton holding a similar banner. They criticized him for supporting oil pipelines across northern Minnesota.
ST. PAUL -- Balancing water is tough. Still, Gov. Mark Dayton brought together more than 800 Minnesotans to do that on Saturday, looking at ways to clean up the state's water while still allowing farmers and others to conduct profitable business. Potential solutions coming from the day-long meeting in a downtown St. Paul hotel will be compiled in coming days, then Dayton said he will decide what to do from there.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's state revenues appear to be down, a state report shows this morning. Minnesota Management and Budget, the state's finance agency, said the projected surplus is $900 million for the current two-year budget cycle. Late last year, the state reported a $1.2 billion surplus. However, the finance agency declared that the budget outlook is stable, despite slower economic growth.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota landowners are to have access to maps showing where they need to install buffer strips by July 1, but questions, distrust and clarifications remain. The Minnesota Legislative Water Commission on Thursday heard that preliminary maps are to be available online this summer, with landowners able to zoom in on their properties. That information should allow them to know where to install buffers. But, like water in much of Minnesota, the requirement is not clear.