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
- 4 years 11 months
ST. PAUL — Rural Minnesota needs medical healing, and U.S. Sen. Al Franken says he has part of a cure. The Minnesota Democrat said Monday that he is pushing three bills to help bring better medical services to rural areas. One would provide more ways to get to health-care services, including increasing payments to those who provide transportation. Also, increased broadband high-speed Internet funding would come to rural areas to connect rural residents to city doctors.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota farmers may not need to install as many mandated buffer strips as originally thought, but it still will cost millions of dollars to comply with a new state law. After announcing Tuesday that a new map is available showing where buffers are required, Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr quoted a new Otter Tail County study that showed just 1,000 acres of land will need to be transformed into buffers to slow water pollution.
ST. PAUL — The most positive description of a high-level Wednesday meeting to set up a Minnesota special legislative session was that it "it was not as productive as I would have liked." Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, also said that "the tone of the speaker's voice" was better than in previous meetings, even though no one could point to any progress made Wednesday.
ST. PAUL — Transportation funding appears to remain the main hurdle to a special legislative session to fund Minnesota public works projects and fix a tax bill. A meeting of House and Senate public works negotiators Tuesday failed to produce any sign they are closer to agreement than when their regular session ended last month. Legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton plan to meet Wednesday to see if they can agree on public works funding legislation in a special session this month.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Democrats and Republicans agree on the need for a special legislative session, but that does not mean one is certain. Democrats, led by Gov. Mark Dayton, argue that a one-day June session is needed to approve funding public works projects in a bonding bill. Most Republicans do not dispute the need for such a bill, but they emphasize the importance of resurrecting a vetoed $260 million measure to provide both tax cuts and increased spending.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's political leaders say they have a problem trusting each other, but on Tuesday they pledged to continue trying to pass failed tax and public works legislation. "We all have trust issues with one another," Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, agreed, adding: "I think the governor hasn't really kept his word. ... The governor has done and said some things that he went back on in the last week."
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday morning expressed hope that he would be able to call a special legislative session to finish work Minnesota lawmakers failed to accomplish as their regular session ended last month, but used words like "discouraged" more than optimistic comments when talking to reporters. "This is why I get discouraged about the possibility of a special session: We can't agree on anything," the Democratic governor said about his relationship with the Republican House majority.
ST. PAUL — Greater Minnesota groups are asking Gov. Mark Dayton to sign tax-break legislation lawmakers passed last week. On Thursday, it was clear that Dayton signing the tax bill with aid for cities, counties, farmers, businesses, students, working families and others could be a longshot. Besides tax breaks and local government aids, the bill also contains a one-word mistake that would cost the state more than $100 million. Unless there is a special legislative session to fix the mistake, the Democratic governor said, he will veto the tax legislation.
ST. PAUL — Shouts, desperate attempts to make last-minute changes and general chaos ended late Sunday attempts to increase Minnesota transportation and public works funding. Minnesota lawmakers failed to hit their midnight target to pass the measure, meaning that short of a special legislative session roads will not be improved and construction projects statewide will not go ahead.
ST. PAUL — How Minnesota can provide billions of dollars to fix roads and provide for other transportation needs in the next decade may become clearer within a week. House Transportation Chairman Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, said Senate and House negotiators probably will meet at least twice in the next week to begin working out spending details. That comes after many lawmakers ran in 2014 saying transportation was a top priority, but they reached no agreement last year and have produced no obvious progress so far this year.