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
- 4 years 3 months
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is bringing back a public works funding bill much like he offered last year, proposing to spend $1.5 billion on projects ranging from water treatment plants to fixing college buildings. "These projects have a direct economic benefit," the governor told reporters in a conference call Wednesday, Jan. 4.
ST. PAUL — A new report says $100 million in state money is needed every two years to help expand broadband high-speed internet throughout Minnesota, but rural lawmakers have said relatively little about it leading up to the 2017 Legislature. In a series of Forum News Service lawmaker interviews before the session, none brought up the issue. When asked, rural legislators said more state aid is needed, but there was a feeling that the issue is less of a priority than in past years.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota let out a sigh of relief Tuesday, Jan. 3, after a federal appeals court decided a lower court erred in tossing out a state law that put some of the worst sex offenders in prison-like facilities after they complete their sentences. Had the original ruling stood, the state would have scrambled to release many of the 700 sex offenders now confined in state hospitals.
ST. PAUL—2017 dawned on the Minnesota Capitol with bright sun Sunday, 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. Mark Dayton and Republicans who control the Legislature have a stormy past. "I think it will be a difficult session because we have very stark differences," Dayton said.
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.
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. But even with nearly 90 percent of legislators backing the measure, it never became law. Gov.
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 — High-level Minnesota state negotiations just are not working. As they tried to strike a special session deal—or tried not to, some say—the two key players continually could not agree on what they had agreed to. They could not agree if the other person had returned calls. They debated by letters and through the media instead of sitting down face to face. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt used to say they liked each other. Now they all but call each other a liar.