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—Minnesota legislators are debating how to best help the state economy with ideas ranging from aiding an industry expand to building out the high-speed internet system. For Senate Republicans, much of the help comes in the form of private-public partnerships. For instance, their jobs plan would provide tax breaks, infrastructure improvement money and a $4 million loan to Thief River Falls' Digi-Key.
ST. PAUL—U.S. Rep. Tim Walz says he is running for governor, giving Democrats a candidate from greater Minnesota, where Republicans dominated in 2016. Walz made his announcement in a Monday morning, March 27, interview with the Post-Bulletin of Rochester. "I think now more than ever people are just wanting (government) to work," Walz said. "They are not looking for the partisanship. They are not looking for me to have all the answers, but they are certainly looking for me to bring people together to find those solutions that we all know are there."
ST. PAUL—There is no debate about a need to infuse money into Minnesota transportation projects, but plenty of division among the major players in how to get that money. Little has changed in the past three years. Republicans in control of the state House and Senate have updated their plans of the past two years to take money now going to other state programs to boost spending on roads and bridges, and borrowing other funds. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton still wants to raise the gasoline tax for roads and bridges and a Twin Cities sales tax for transit.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he was not playing politics when he did not pass on a North Dakota request for law enforcement officers to help at a pipeline dispute.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota lawmakers plan to figure out their state budget plans in the next two weeks. With that deadline in mind, House Republicans announced Monday, March 20, they want to cut taxes $1.35 billion in the next two years. Later in the day, Senate Republicans said they want to spend $3.6 billion for transportation over 10 years. The bottom line is that the state taxpayer-funded budget likely will be around $46 billion for the two years beginning July 1, but details need to be decided by the constitutional legislative adjournment date in two months.
ST. PAUL—It is personal for Rod Hamilton. The Minnesota state representative, a multiple sclerosis patient for 20 years, cannot get a committee chairman to consider a bill he says will help people like him who depend on prescription medicine.
ST. PAUL—Thousands of Minnesotans play daily fantasy sports, but it is not clear whether the activity is legal. Bills in the Minnesota Legislature would list them legal as well as place regulations on operators of the games. "It puts important guardrails around the industry," Scott Ward told a House committee Thursday, March 9, before lawmakers passed it on to another panel. Ward, who represents fantasy sports juggernauts FanDuel and DraftKings, said 10 states have passed laws similar to what Minnesota lawmakers are considering.
ST. PAUL — A letter to the editor could lead to ethics charges against a Minnesota state senator. Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, said on Thursday, March 9, that he is considering asking the Senate Ethics Committee to find that Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen violated rules that ban misleading or untrue comments about a colleague.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's poultry industry is on high alert. This week marks the second anniversary of the beginning of a bird flu outbreak that ended with more than 9 million turkey and chicken deaths. Added to that, two American poultry operations are infected with bird flu. And to top it off, the 2017 weather is eerily similar to 2015. "It is starting to feel like two years ago," State Veterinarian Beth Thompson said Wednesday, March 8.
ST. PAUL—The Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature appears ready to stop plastic bag bans. A House committee last week voted 10-7 to stop ordinances such as Minneapolis has enacted and some Duluth residents want to stop stores from putting customers' purchases in plastic bags. A Senate committee on Tuesday, March 7, heard arguments for and against the idea, delaying legislation for potential inclusion in an overall environment bill.