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
- 2 years 4 months
EDEN PRAIRIE -- Minnesota motorists will see more orange barrels than ever this summer after state officials on Wednesday announced they will spend a record $1.3 billion on transportation projects. Of the 283 projects on the Minnesota Department of Transportation's 2010 list, 217 are on highways. The remaining projects will deal with railroads, ports and transit. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel and other government officials gathered within earshot of the year's biggest project, a $150 million Interstate 494-U.S.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty plans to sign a budget-cutting bill that plugs a third of Minnesota's nearly $1 billion deficit. The House and Senate on Monday approved the compromise bill cutting $312 million, mostly with Democratic-Farmer-Laborite votes. After a week-long break that started Monday afternoon, lawmakers will return to St. Paul on April 6, preparing to debate a new bill, not yet finished, cutting health and human services programs.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers begin a week-long Passover-Easter break Monday with nearly 7,000 bills left to debate. If legislators were to consider every bill that has been introduced in the current two-year session, they would take 233 votes every weekday until they adjourn in May. But legislators will not return April 6 and begin debating all of those measures. Some of those bills were folded into larger measures known as omnibus bills. Others simply never had the votes to pass out of a committee.
ST. PAUL -- Attempts to lure investments in small business and encourage people to rehabilitate historic buildings could produce jobs, Minnesota legislative Democrats say, and they are willing to bet state money on the idea. "I don't know how much stimulus this will provide, but we should give it a try," Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Thursday. Bakk's bill and a similar House measure are among the Minnesota Legislature's priorities this year because they are designed to produce jobs at a time when the rough economy has killed many jobs.
ST. PAUL -- The fight for increasingly scarce state money is getting heated. As lawmakers approved trimming Minnesota spending by $313 million Monday, rural and urban representatives fought over some of the remaining money. "Greater Minnesota gets the short end of everything we do around there," Rep. Rod Hamilton of Mountain Lake said in joining Rep.
ST. PAUL -- A state board approved a 30-day emergency flood declaration Friday, a day before the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator begins several days looking into area flooding. Gov. Tim Pawlenty already had designated 28 Minnesota counties as flood emergency areas, but that only lasts for five days. Under state law, the Executive Council must approve longer disaster requests, which Pawlenty, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Auditor Rebecca Otto did without debate Friday morning. The designation allows the state to help flooded communities.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers on Monday will debate budget bills no one likes. Not legislators. Not the governor. Not people who receive state money. The bills cutting state spending are necessary because the state faces a $944 million deficit.