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
- 5 years 8 months
ST. PAUL—Minnesota House passage of a public works funding bill signals the beginning of the end to the 2018 Minnesota Legislature. The House voted 84-39 Monday, May 14, for a bill that would borrow about $1 billion for everything from fixing college buildings to building water-treatment plants throughout the state. "I cannot guarantee you are going to get another chance," Chairman Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, told fellow representatives as he urged support. Some of the major areas of spending include:
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Republican governor candidate Jeff Johnson has picked an American Indian who lives in Duluth as his running mate. Although observers had expected a greater Minnesota women to be Johnson's pick as lieutenant governor, his Monday, May 14, announcement was a surprise to many because Donna Bergstrom lives in Duluth and belongs to the Red Lake Nation, both Democratic strongholds. Johnson and Bergstrom said they agree on many topics. "The proper role of government is to serve and not to bully," Bergstrom said.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans watching the final days of the Legislature need to remember one thing: There is nothing lawmakers must do. There is plenty they would like to do, but if they just go home today, little will change in the state. That is quite different from an odd-numbered year when they must approve a budget or state government would shut down. Perhaps the most complex issue is the one legislators will push the hardest to pass, a tax bill.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota would collect $20 million from opioid painkiller makers and distributors under Senate-passed legislation. "We cannot continue to go at this pace," Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, said about an epidemic of deaths due to opioid abuse. "We are losing people daily." Senators backed the bill 60-6 Thursday, May 10. It is one of the major bills in the Legislature this year, and one that especially rural Minnesotans say is at the top of their priority lists.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton needs to accept a smaller public works bill, the Minnesota Senate chairman in charge of the issue says. "I don't have a nickel more to spend on bonding," Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said Wednesday, May 9, after releasing his public works funding bill. Democrat Dayton earlier this year unveiled a $1.5 billion bonding bill, a proposal that did not include local projects that he said merit funding, leaving him supporting $2.3 billion in public works projects.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed legislation that would have overturned current law regulating water standards in Minnesota wild rice water. The House and Senate had passed the measure, in place since 1973 but never enforced. The bill would have banned the state from returning to that law. Dayton vetoed the bill Wednesday, April 9.
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans should be able to use their existing driver's licenses and identification cards until 2020 to board domestic airline flights and enter some federal facilities. State officials announced Monday, May 7, that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has informed them that since the state is making progress in meeting federal Real ID standards, the deadline may be extended. While not an official deadline extension, Minnesota officials said they expect that to be granted.
ST. PAUL — Rural Minnesota legislators say the most-heard needs from their constituents is lack of affordable child care, and now senators have approved legislation they hope helps. On Monday, May 7, senators overwhelmingly approved three bills written to help reduce regulations home-based child care providers say could drive them out of business. "In rural Minnesota, the lack of child care has become a crisis," Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, said.
ST. PAUL — About two weeks remain in the 2018 legislative session, so it is time for the work to begin. At least it is time for the final work. Now is when the House, Senate and administration to sit down in conference committees and behind closed doors to reach deals. Even-numbered years like 2018 normally are centered on funding public works projects. This year, such work nearly has been an afterthought as so many other issues have shot to the top.
Tim Pawlenty's lieutenant governor and short-time transportation commissioner, Carol Molnau, will advise Jeff Johnson in his run for governor this year. Pawlenty and Johnson are leading governor candidates for the Republican nomination this year. Johnson announced Friday, May 4, that Molnau will advise him on agriculture issues during his campaign and if he is elected. She will not be his running mate or work for him in St. Paul.