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
- 5 years 3 months
ST. PAUL - A third of Minnesota homeowners would pay lower property taxes under a bill the House passed 80-52 late Monday. However, in order to pay for those property tax cuts, many other Minnesotans would pay higher income taxes. The bill also stops businesses from enrolling in the state's top rural economic development program. The measure differs from one already passed by the Senate and a proposal from Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Presidential candidate John McCain's blaming of federal earmarks as causing the Interstate 35W bridge to collapse in Minneapolis upset the Minnesota Senate's transportation chairman. Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said he is troubled by McCain not understanding the importance of targeting money to projects with specific needs. "Maybe the good senator should send the states a little more money," he said. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, McCain's campaign national co-chairman, said he agrees with McCain's frustration about how some federal tax dollars are spent.
ST. PAUL - A minimum wage increase lawmakers support needs to change before Gov. Tim Pawlenty can support it, he said Thursday moments after the House approved the wage hike. The bill would raise the minimum wage in large businesses from $6.15 to $6.90 an hour on July 24 and $7.90 next year. Minimum wages in small businesses would go up from the current $5.25 to $5.75 this summer and $6.75 in 2009. A worker younger than 20 years old could be paid less during the first three months on a job. The House passed the measure on an 82-45 vote.
ST. PAUL - Northwest Airlines often does not fulfill promises, a key state senator said Wednesday, so lawmakers should not believe a pledge to retain most Minnesota jobs if the company becomes part of Delta Air Lines. "Until Delta comes to the table and tells me that, I am not going to believe it - period," Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said.
ST. PAUL - Provisions restricting young drivers moved closer to law Monday. Senators Monday gave preliminary approval to a bill - similar to one the House passed last week -- banning drivers in their first six months of holding a license from driving between midnight and 5 a.m., in most cases, and made it illegal to carry more than one other youth not related to the driver. "Between midnight and 5 a.m., folks, is when teenage drivers die on the roads," Sen.
A second state veterans' cemetery could be built and a new veterans' home governing arrangement were approved Thursday by House members. Veterans' provisions were folded into an agriculture bill, but was barely discussed before the full bill passed. The new veterans' cemetery, proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, would be started by the federal government, but the state would fund its staff. Pawlenty removed veterans' home governance from a board earlier, handing it off to the state Veterans' Affairs Department, after problems surfaced at a Minneapolis facility.
Homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments could receive help from the Minnesota Finance Agency under a bill senators preliminarily passed Thursday. The bill could be on the governor's desk next week. "Minnesota, like the rest of the country, is facing a mortgage foreclosure crisis of proportions not seen since the Depression," Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, said. "The problem is spreading throughout the state, from the Twin Cities, through the suburbs and into greater Minnesota," she added.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators gave final approval to studying a rare cancer found on the Iron Range when the House voted 121-1 in favor of a $4.9 million expenditure. Mesothelioma is believed to have resulted in 58 northeastern Minnesota deaths, but scientists are not sure about the cause. "This study is a commitment to those that work in the mines on the Iron Range and for all workers across the state -- if something where you work is making you sick, we are going to get to the bottom of it," said bill sponsor Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia.
Young Minnesota drivers should face limits on their driving, representatives decided Thursday. The overall transportation bill that contains the provision passed 82-44. For the first six months a youth has a driver's license, only one passenger 20 years old or younger, unrelated to the driver, can be in the vehicle. Also during that first sixth months, the young person only may drive between midnight and 5 a.m. to and from work and school. "No double dating for sophomores under this bill," Rep.