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 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.
The Woodbury Republican mayor running for Minnesota governor has picked a rural lawmaker to be her running mate. Mary Giuliani Stephens announced Wednesday that Rep. Jeff Backer from Browns Valley will run for lieutenant governor. The team represents the two geographic areas Republicans must carry to win a general election: the suburbs and rural Minnesota.
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 — 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.
ST. PAUL—Taxes have taken over as the 2018 Minnesota Legislative session's No. 1 issue, thanks federal tax law changes that will affect most Americans. The House tax plan passed 90-38 Monday, April 30, and Senate Republicans announce their proposal Tuesday morning, making it the third plan as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton announced his wishes weeks ago. The House Republican majority says its measure will provide 2.1 million Minnesotans tax cuts. If the Legislature and Dayton do nothing, about 300,000 would pay more.
ST. PAUL—A Minnesotan who national television cable news viewers know as a strong President Donald Trump critic is running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate. Richard Painter announced Monday, April 30, that he will run in the Aug. 14 Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party primary election against Sen. Tina Smith. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Smith when Al Franken resigned; she says she is running for election this year for the last two years of Franken's term.
ST. PAUL — How to deal with opioid abuse is one of those issues that everyone agrees needs legislation, but they cannot agree on details. Many Democrats and at least some Republicans say drug companies that make and sell the powerful painkillers should pay for opioid abuse prevention and treatment. That does not fly well with many Republicans, although Sen. Julie Rosen of Vernon Center is continuing her fight to collect a fee (or tax, if you will) on opioids sold in the state.
ST. PAUL—What we have here is a failure to communicate. That is what Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt said on Thursday, April 26, about news coverage of gun legislation written from his comments a day earlier. "Obviously, there was some misunderstanding of our press conference," Daudt said late Thursday afternoon, after spending the day trying to make sure gun-rights advocates knew that he still supports them. "It is my fault too, because I wasn't as clear as I should have been," he added.