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
- 3 years 7 months
ST. PAUL - Border cities would fall under the same laws as other Minnesota communities, a House committee decided Monday when debating a statewide smoking ban. Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, wanted smoking allowed in border cities' bars and private clubs, but it was defeated on a close voice vote.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota Democratic senators knew in February they would suggest raising taxes to fund their top priorities, but first talked about it publicly last week and on Saturday passed a nearly $1 billion income tax increase. The tax increase was kept under wraps to direct attention toward education needs, the Senate's education finance chairman said. "There is a hesitancy on keeping the center of focus on taxes rather than investment," Sen.
U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar says he is worried that airline maintenance and inspection standards are slipping. The Minnesota Democrat said airlines hiring other companies to conduct maintenance could be hurting safety. In a recent House hearing, Oberstar told Federal Aviation Administration officials about his concern. "You lose contact with the reality that this is an aircraft, not a piece of paper, not a document popping up on a computer screen," Oberstar said. "I am much more comfortable with hands-on than I am with fingers on the keyboard and pop-up screens."
ST. PAUL - It was just last Monday when the Minnesota Senate approved an education funding bill, but now Senate Democrats want to add another $444 million. That education funding bump and property tax relief require a $900 million income tax increase, Senate leaders say. Democratic-Farmer-Laborite senators Thursday released a plan to spend $444 million more than a $794 million raise the full Senate approved on Monday.
ST. PAUL - A Senate tax bill Minnesota senators may consider Friday would stop Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Job Opportunity Building Zone program, his top rural economic priority. JOBZ would accept no new businesses after May 1 under the bill introduced Wednesday.
ST. PAUL - Income tax increases topping $500 million appear likely to pass the Minnesota Senate by week's end. Democratic-Farmer-Laborite senators want to bump up education funding anywhere between $500 million and $1 billion, and income taxes look like their chosen way to fund the bigger budgets. Decisions could be made today about just how to raise taxes, with the Senate Taxes Committee chairman suggesting they restore personal income taxes to 2001 levels. Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he and others made a mistake cutting taxes in 2001.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota senators passed the largest of three public works bills Wednesday, but there is a desire for more. Moments after senators voted 56-9 to fund $306 million in public works projects, the committee chairman in charge of picking projects to fund said he expects to spend even more. The House Tuesday night approved $255 million in public works projects, while Gov. Tim Pawlenty asked for $71 million. The Senate bill would spend $135 million from a $1 billion state budget surplus. Another $170 million would be funded by the state selling bonds. Sen.
ST. PAUL - Leaky roofs will be fixed, flood prevention measures will be taken and building additions will be constructed if a House-passed public works bill becomes law. On an 84-45 vote, the House Tuesday night approved a bill funding public works projects across the state. The $255 million measure is a far cry from the $1 billion bills lawmakers passed in the last couple of years. Odd-numbered years such as this normally are dedicated to drawing up a two-year budget, which legislators are doing.
ST. PAUL - Smokers would be banned from all public Minnesota workplaces other than well ventilated outdoor patios under a Senate-passed bill. Minnesota senators voted 41-24 Tuesday for a strict smoking ban, turning back several efforts to weaken it. The House version of the measure awaits action in a committee with a chairman opposed to the measure. Long-time anti-smoking advocate Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, said the Senate vote is a victory. "My main thing is trying to change the culture," he said. "This legislation will discourage smoking in this state.
ST. PAUL - The average rural Minnesota homeowner would pay 9.9 percent lower property taxes under a House Democratic proposal that faces a questionable future. "This plan, linking it to income, will allow senior citizens to stay in their houses, families to stay in their neighborhoods and farmers to stay on the land," Property Tax Chairman Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said. What Revenue Commissioner Warn Einess called a "supercharged" property tax refund based partially on a taxpayer's income would provide much of the tax relief. But Einess said Gov.