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.
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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.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans counting on tax cuts or state construction projects will be disappointed, but those who signed up for pricey individual health insurance policies can maintain a sliver of hope the state will help them afford premiums. No agreements were reached between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders Thursday so a tax bill and public works funding measure will not be considered if there is a special session next week.
WASHINGTON — Keith Ellison confirmed Wednesday that he would resign from the U.S. House if he is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The Minneapolis Democrat earlier had said he has the energy to remain a congressman while running the party. In recent days, however, he backed down from that and Wednesday released a statement saying that he would quit his congressional job if elected. After last month's presidential and congressional losses at the polls, Ellison said, party faithful want a full-time Democratic National Committee chairman.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — A Republican Minnesota Senate candidate apparently won an election recount, meaning the GOP will control the body 34-33 when the 2017 Legislature begins Jan. 3. The St. Cloud Times reports that the recount ended Wednesday, Dec. 7, with Republican Jerry Relph winning by 141 votes. The original count after the Nov. 8 election had him beating Democrat Dan Wolgamott by 148 votes. The state Canvassing Board must sign off on the numbers Monday to make the results official.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt last week said in a news conference with the governor and other legislative leaders that Wednesday, Dec. 7, was the deadline for agreeing to issues to come up during a special legislative session dealing with health insurance costs, public works financing and taxes. But on Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton said there was no such deadline. Dayton told reporters that work of legislators and governor's staffers to write bills can extend into next week for a proposed Dec. 20 special session.
ST. PAUL—Soaring insurance premiums apparently jolted Minnesotans into seeking federal aid to pay for their policies. The state's health insurance marketplace, MNsure, announced on Tuesday, Nov. 29, that the number of Minnesotans getting financial aid for 2017 policies tripled over this year. Rural Minnesotans especially benefit from the aid, which comes from the federal government, MNsure Allison O'Toole said in a Forum News Service interview.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton walked out of a meeting he chairs Tuesday, Nov. 29, over a battle about whether Civil War paintings should hang in his office. "It has been a deeply distressing issue for me," Dayton said, claiming Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, wishes to return six paintings to the governor's office once the state Capitol building restoration finishes next year is rooted in political ambitions.