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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PAUL — Work on the Minnesota state budget slowed Wednesday, May 10, to allow a senator to be with her dying father. House members pressed ahead, passing a tax-cut bill and another funding transportation. Budget negotiations between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton stopped after the GOP began pushing their budget bills to full House and Senate votes Tuesday.
ST. PAUL — Voters around greater Minnesota can expect to see a lot of Jeff Johnson. The 50-year-old Hennepin County commissioner and Detroit Lakes native launched his second Republican bid for governor Wednesday, May 10, saying that the area outside the Twin Cities is critical.
ST. PAUL—Republicans who control the Minnesota Legislature are moving their budget plan over Democratic claims that their actions are illegal. And the governor said he would veto each of the 10 bills making up the GOP's $46 billion, two-year spending proposal. Budget talks among legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton began late last week, and continued early Tuesday afternoon, May 9, but leaders put their budget legislation in front of lawmakers late afternoon with little notice.
ST. PAUL — U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan and Tim Walz tried a fist bump, looking rather awkward, in front of a couple hundred people rallying in favor or pension protections, but there was nothing awkward between the two men who could find themselves opponents in a race for governor. In Tuesday, May 9, interviews, neither said there would be a problem with two congressmen running for the state's highest office. "I think there is room for everybody," Walz said.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislation to battle female genital mutilation now includes penalties requiring up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $30,000. A bill offered by Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, on Monday, May 8, was amended to spell out higher penalties for the crime, starting at five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The measure also would make parents liable for charges. The bill, which passed on a voice vote out of a House public safety committee, "makes penalties graduated based on level of harm," Rep. Debra Hilstrom, D-Brooklyn Center, said.
ST. PAUL -- President Donald Trump plans to nominate a Minnesota Supreme Court justice to a St. Louis-based federal appeals court. Numerous Washington journalists report that David Stras is due to get the Trump nod Monday, May 8, for the Eighth Circuit Court , which hears cases for Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Arkansas.
ST. PAUL—The battleground for new federal health insurance legislation may be in the same place as last year's presidential election was decided: rural America. Democrats are telling rural Donald Trump voters that they do better under current law championed by then-President Barack Obama. An example comes from the Democrat-leaning National Farmers Union and its president, a former North Dakota agriculture commissioner.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota taxpayers last year funded more than $9 million in local government lobbying expenses. That is, local governments used tax money to pay lobbyists to get the Legislature to vote a certain way. The state auditor's office released figures showing the 2016 spending topped 2015 by $183,353.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota senators are sending a pair of abortion restriction bills to the governor, who promises to veto them. A mostly Republican Senate majority voted Thursday, May 4, to require many abortion clinics to be licensed and to ban state funding for abortions. The House earlier passed the bills. "I oppose both of them," Gov. Mark Dayton said as the Senate began its debate, promising to veto both. Republicans have passed similar bills in the past, always meeting Democratic resistance.
FIRST 3 PIX HAVE SAME CUTLINE: Don Davis / Forum News Service Farhio Khalif testifies Wednesday to a Minnesota House committee about a procedure she underwent as a child known as female genital mutilation, also called female circumcision. With her is Rep. Mary Franson of Alexandria, sponsor of a bill making the procedure a felony; parents could be prosecuted under the bill. FOURTH PHOTO: Don Davis / Forum News Service