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 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.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Legislature is close to cleaning up misunderstandings in a law meant to clean up the state's water. Senators on Thursday passed legislation 61-0 making it clear that vegetative buffers will not be required along private ditches. The measure also clears up other issues that raised questions about the nearly year-old buffer law, many coming from farmers who did not know what they would be required to do to meet the law. The House is expected to pass the bill next week and Gov. Mark Dayton could sign it into law soon.
ST. PAUL — Phil Kragness cannot travel like many Minnesotans. A blind double-amputee, Kragness and others with disabilities would like to visit places throughout the state. "People with disabilities have money to spend," he said Tuesday, advocating legislation that would establish a task force with the mission of making sure people with disabilities could benefit from driverless vehicles. A state Senate committee passed the measure, although it must win other committee support before landing in front of the full Senate.
ST. PAUL — Black-white and urban-rural tensions filled a Minnesota House committee room Tuesday, with black protesters telling the mostly white Legislature that it should spend more money on social programs and less on prisons. Protesters frequently interrupted as western Minnesotans testified in favor of reopening a private prison in Appleton. The interruptions forced the committee chairman to recess the meeting for an hour, and when it was resumed no more pro-prison supporters testified.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota landowners are to have access to maps showing where they need to install buffer strips by July 1, but questions, distrust and clarifications remain. The Minnesota Legislative Water Commission on Thursday heard that preliminary maps are to be available online this summer, with landowners able to zoom in on their properties. That information should allow them to know where to install buffers. But, like water in much of Minnesota, the requirement is not clear.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's railroads are becoming safer, railroad officials and legislative transportation leaders agree. The state's four largest railroads invested more than $500 million on infrastructure last year, most of which improved safety. By far the biggest investment was from Minnesota's largest railroad, $326 million by BNSF Railway Co. "These improvements are paying off for all kinds of traffic," BNSF Vice President Brian Sweeney told Minnesota legislators Monday.