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
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ST. PAUL — Mexicans eat nearly $23 million worth of Minnesota turkey products a year, and Canadians consume about half that. The two United States neighbors and Hong Kong are, by far, the major importers of Minnesota turkey. At the same time, Canada sells $364 million of wood to Minnesota and Mexico collects $365 million from Minnesotans for electrical machinery. The state has strong economic connections with Canada and Mexico, with a large variety of goods going back and forth across the borders.
ST. PAUL—Shauna Reitmeier sat at a Minnesota Senate committee table telling lawmakers the bill they were considering would hurt mentally ill patients she serves. Sitting inches to her right Thursday, March 29, was Sen. Mark Johnson, author of the bill she pleaded that senators defeat. It would require some able-bodied people to work if they receive government-funded health care.
ST. PAUL — A stick or rabbit dropping in the yard of a Minnesota child care center, or a crayon mark on a table, may be enough to get a citation from state regulators. That is going too far, child care center workers told a state Senate committee Wednesday, March 28, and senators agreed. "If you truly want to stop the child care crisis now ... then you need to hold the Department of Human Services accountable," Elizabeth Bangert of the Here We Grow child care center in Mankato told a Senate health and human services committee.
ST. PAUL — Tens of thousands of Minnesota state workers will get a raise after the House and Senate approved negotiated contracts. Senators voted 56-10 Monday, May 26, to bump up pay for more than 30,000 workers by 2 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The House followed a few hours later with a 93-33 vote. About half of workers are eligible for other increases, too, Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said. The raises will not increase taxes, Sen. Erik Simonson, D-Duluth, said because the added pay would come out of existing budgets.
ST. PAUL — Many Minnesota government pension plans are paying out more than they are taking in. State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, says that is troubling. Her colleagues agreed Monday, March 26, when they unanimously approved her bill that increases funding going into the pension plans and slightly cuts some benefits. While senators were together on the issue, the pension bill has not received a House committee hearing. Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend $27 million to help shore up public pensions.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton seldom says he would veto a bill, but if it reaches his desk he promises to veto House-passed legislation to get the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System running smoothly. The measure representatives passed late Monday afternoon would take money from other agencies to fix the Public Safety Department program. Dayton said on Tuesday, March 20, that he refuses to let lawmakers "cannibalize" other departments' budgets to fix MNLARS.
ST. PAUL—A fix for the troubled Minnesota License and Registration System that has frustrated thousands of vehicle owners may be close. The state Senate and House Monday, March 19, passed differing versions of legislation to pump $10 million into efforts to improve the MNLARS computer software system. A House-Senate conference committee is expected to work out the differences between the two bills, perhaps this week.
ST. PAUL—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took a major step forward to run for his old job on Monday, March 19, in announcing he filed campaign committee paperwork. That makes it all but certain the Republican is seeking the governor's office again. A written announcement he distributed, while refusing media interviews, follows a series of speeches in Minnesota that made it sound like he was running.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton suggests some tax cuts and some increases, lots more spending for some programs, a little more for others, no more for much of state government. Republicans disagree with much of what he proposes. However, they agreed with one thing the Democratic governor said: "I will warn you in advance, this is complicated." Dayton unveiled his proposed changes to the state's current two-year, $46 billion budget on Friday, March 16. His plan now goes to the Republican-controlled Legislature, where much of it will face opposition.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he and the Legislature should try to work together like they did in restoring the Capitol building. In his final State of the State speech Wednesday, March 14, the Democratic governor looked back at his two terms in office and ahead to tasks remaining during his final 299 days on the job.