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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ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty delivered equal amounts of patriotism and conservatism Thursday in his final State of the State speech. The Republican governor and potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate began his 33-minute speech praising the Minnesota National Guard, and spent much of his time in the packed House chamber promoting tax cuts and other proposals that he said would help business hire more workers. Reception to his speech was divided along partisan lines more than his previous seven.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty used his last State of the State address to push many of the same ideas Minnesotans have heard from him since he took office 2003, with the same results: Republicans generally praising them and Democrats criticizing. The GOP governor talked about the state's poor tax climate for business and said government should shrink, all in the name of helping create jobs. "So the most important question before us is this: How do we best grow good, private-sector jobs in Minnesota?" Pawlenty asked in his 33-minute speech.
ST. PAUL -- Bills to restrict a governor's ability to unilaterally cut budgets are being introduced in the Legislature, and the state Supreme Court says it will accept cities' input when it considers the issue this spring. The bill sponsored by House and Senate fin-ance committee chairmen would limit how much a governor could cut, but it would not affect Gov. Tim Pawlenty's 2009 actions, which have come under heavy criticism. "It is an effort by the Legislature to take some of its power back," Rep. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said Wednesday. The proposal by two Democrats, Sen.
ST. PAUL -- House Democrats say they want to hear from the public about how to reform state government, but Republicans say they already are presenting reforms. "We have been trying to reform government for a decade and been met with a deaf ear from Democrats," Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said. "We don't need another discussion group, we need action. Our proposals are still on the table and we are still willing to offer them for the good of Minnesota if Democrats are sincerely willing to listen." Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to double some sex offender sentences, the latest in a series of related moves over the years. Under the plan the Republican governor announced Tuesday, a first-degree sex offender would receive a sentence of at least 25 years, compared to the current 12- year sentence. The governor's plan, however, received mixed reaction from a group of key Democratic lawmakers. Sen.
Update 11 a.m.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's primary election likely will be a month earlier than normal so military personnel and other Americans overseas have plenty of time to cast their ballots. A bill cleared its first legislative hurdle Friday moving the primary to Aug. 10. Without a law change, the primary vote would be Sept. 14. "There has been an argument over how early it should be," Sen.
Some legislators are considering gambling revenue to balance the Minnesota budget, one of the few surprises Thursday as the 2010 legislation session began. Legislators' major job is to plug a $1.2 billion hole in the state budget, a budget with nearly 18 months remaining.
ST. PAUL -- Sen. Keith Langseth hopes Gov. Tim Pawlenty likes a good sale. The Glyndon Democrat considers current construction costs a bargain because they are 15 percent to 20 percent lower than normal. Given that, he said Thursday, the state should invest nearly $1 billion in construction projects across Minnesota. "There's a sale going on out there," said Langseth, chairman of the Senate committee that funds public works projects. "This is the time to bond and build. ... The time to bond and build is during the down time when you get your best deals.
Minnesota legislators return to the state Capitol today for a session that promises to be little fun. Lawmakers will deal with the necessities, not the luxuries, as there is one overriding necessity on their minds: balance the state budget. People around the Capitol understand that.