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
- 1 year 4 months
ST. PAUL -- Annette and Brian Swanson's son has been missing for almost a year, but on Thursday they paused in their search to watch a ceremony designed to help other Minnesotans. The couple and their daughter, Jamine, unsuccessfully tried to hold back tears as Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a bill forcing law enforcement agencies to quickly act on reports of missing young adults. "This is a bittersweet moment for us," Annette Swanson said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's economic development programs fall victim to the state budget deficit. "We cut, we cut, we cut," Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said. "We can't create jobs when we are cutting, but we did the best that we could. ... I wish I had a lot better bill, but I had to cut." The Senate voted to cut economic development funding 38-28 Monday. The House did the same on Tuesday, 74-57. In both cases, some Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the measure.
The Minnesota Senate and House needed little time to approve a $4.3 billion transportation funding compromise. The Monday votes keep transportation just below current spending, and do not cut State Patrol operations. The House approved the measure 103-30; senators followed with a 63-4 tally. House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said he expects Gov. Tim Pawlenty to sign the measure. "This transportation bill squarely addresses the difficult economic times we are facing in Minnesota," said Rep. Bernie Lieder, DFL-Crookston, House transportation finance chairman.
ST. PAUL -- What to do about taxes is the most controversial of many controversial money issues in the Minnesota Legislature and now the House and Senate have passed different plans. The House barely passed its measure Saturday night, a day after senators adopted their version on another close vote. Negotiations begin soon on a compromise bill, but the governor says he doesn't like many of the provisions in either plan. Among the hottest issues is how tax proposals affect businesses.
ST. PAUL -- Higher fees keep could keep spending on outdoors programs from deeper funding cuts. Even with millions of dollars in fee increases, some budgets may shrink rapidly, Minnesota legislators say. For instance, state tax money headed to the Pollution Control Agency would shrink by 19 percent under a funding plan senators ap-proved Th-ursday 49-15. And the Department of Natural Resources would get 5 percent less state funding. To help compensate, senators approved increasing fees $5 million, slightly less than Gov.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House would give veterans programs more money, but delay or eliminate some agriculture spending. But for some representatives, neither got enough money in a Wednesday 83-49 mostly party-line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. "We are willing to fund dog parks and trails and hockey arenas," Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, said. "Where is our priority?" Rep.
ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Senate will consider raising all state income taxes, with married couples earning more than $250,000 annually being taxed at a new, higher 9.25 percent rate. Higher income taxes are the key to the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite controlled Senate plan that raises taxes $2 billion all told. Today's announcement sets up a three-way tax battle with the House and Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The DFL-controlled House on Monday begin looking at a plan that keeps all income taxes the same except for couples who earn more than $300,000. They would pay 9 percent of their income in taxes.