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's 2014 governor race is underway. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton long has said he plans to seek a second term, and at least a half-dozen Republicans want the chance to knock him off. One GOP wag joked that every Republican legislator was thinking about running. So far, the main Republican in the race is rich businessman Scott Honour, who announced his candidacy via email and Web video. "Like you, I love Minnesota," he said in the email. "But I fear that our state is headed in the wrong direction, and under the wrong leadership.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota Democrats and Republicans agree on at least one thing: The House tax plan raises a lot of money. "It's a large increase, but it has to happen," said Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth. "Somebody has to step up to the plate, be a leader and make the tough decisions, and that's what we're here to do." House members voted 69-64 Wednesday to approve a tax bill that Democrats say will fund key investments and Republicans say will hit everyone hard. "I know this tax proposal is bad for all Minnesotans," said Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota lawmakers now have three distinct tax proposals to consider with release of a Senate Democratic plan that includes an income tax hike, sales tax changes and property tax relief. Senate Democrats unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would increase income tax for married Minnesota couples who make about $141,000 or more taxable income.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota state representatives approved 70-64 a health-care spending bill late Monday without knowing how it would affect hospitals around the state. Most Democrats favored the bill while most Republicans opposed it. Highlighting debate was an amendment by Rep. Will Morgan, DFL-Burnsville, that the Democrat-controlled House put on the overall bill to change how funding would be distributed to hospitals. Time after time when Republican lawmakers asked Morgan how his amendment would affect hospitals.
ST. PAUL -- Maybe next year. That is what state lawmakers in charge of the transportation budget are saying about major transit and road projects, which likely will be put off because they cannot get new funds. A gasoline tax planned to be a major part of the House and Senate transportation budget proposals was yanked after Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday that he would not support it, leaving the lawmakers with a revenue hole. "We always envisioned this being a bill with a gas tax," said House Transportation Finance Chairman Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis.
ST. PAUL -- Goals of 100 percent high school graduation, every third-grader being able to read, ending an achievement gap and all students being ready for careers or college after graduation are lofty, but House Democrats say their sights are set on those accomplishments by 2017. Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said Tuesday that the $15.7 billion House Democrats want to spend on education in the next two years would "actually make a difference in the life of every single student of this state." The House education financing plan closely follows one released by Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Civil unions would give gay couples the same rights as married couples, says the sponsor of a Minnesota House proposal that is a step short of full marriage. "Government's role is to protect the individual," Rep.
A multi-school district board governing Crosswinds school in Woodbury and Harambee in Maplewood decided to give away the facilities, but Minnesota Management and Budget has ruled that the only thing it can do without legislative approval is to sell the buildings.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans will be able to shop for health insurance through a state marketplace beginning Oct. 1, but may not see savings for a couple of years. Minutes after Gov. Mark Dayton Wednesday signed a bill into law establishing the marketplace, to be known as MNsure, he said that it eventually will save Minnesotans money, but not until 2015 or later. Many cost savings will come from a shift in how Minnesotans get health care, the governor said.