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House Democrats want public insight on government reform

ST. PAUL -- House Democrats say they want to hear from the public about how to reform state government, but Republicans say they already are presenting reforms.

"We have been trying to reform government for a decade and been met with a deaf ear from Democrats," Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said. "We don't need another discussion group, we need action. Our proposals are still on the table and we are still willing to offer them for the good of Minnesota if Democrats are sincerely willing to listen."

Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, on Monday announced a caucus is forming to consider reform legislation. And he is soliciting ideas from Minnesotans.

Among proposals Zellers mentioned is one from Rep. Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake, who says up to $90 million a year could be saved by turning the prison system over to a private business.

Pay wanted

Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, is adding his voice to those calling for members of the Minnesota National Guard to receive much delayed bonus pay.

Lesch, completing his National Guard boot camp training today, said he wants a 2007 federal promise to Minnesota's Red Bull 34th Infantry Brigade for bonus pay to be upheld.

Haiti donations

The House and Senate are making progress toward allowing Minnesotans who have donated to Haiti earthquake victims to get tax breaks on returns they file this year.

"The Jan. 12 disaster happened so close to the New Year that I believe people should be allowed to report their financial contributions on 2009 tax returns," Sen. Tax Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said. "Even though many Minnesotans are themselves struggling they still found a way to reach out to the victims of this horrific disaster."

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
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.