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 5 months
ST. PAUL—A closed western Minnesota private prison would be allowed to take state prisoners under a proposal in front of legislative budget negotiators, but there would be no money to open it. "We still plan on Appleton, full speed ahead," House Public Safety Chairman Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said, although there would be no money to open it. He said on Thursday, April 20, as public safety and courts funding negotiations began that money to open the prison would need to come from a future legislature.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's ability to get products to market will be at risk if state lawmakers and the governor fail to break a transportation funding impasse, county officials warn. "Our harvest, timber and manufactured products have gained and held leadership positions in world markets because we have historically been able to move products out of the field, forest and factory more efficiently than competitors," Douglas County Commissioner Jim Stratton said. "But that is rapidly changing as time is catching up with decades of underfunding our local road system."
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota state auditor says Roseau and Hubbard county financial audits conducted by private accountants need to be done again, but a report containing the recommendation has received plenty of pushback. "We are watching out for the taxpayers," Auditor Rebecca Otto said in a Tuesday, April 4, interview. The report she issued has page after page of what she said are problems with audits in eight counties of the 26 that use private auditors instead of her office.
ST. PAUL — Maybe the third time is a charm. That is the hope of Minnesotans who are tired of dodging potholes and daily fighting other road and transit woes. The state House and Senate have approved Republican-written transportation funding bills that greatly vary from what Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton wants. But despite having passed their legislation, it is more of a beginning. "We have to start somewhere," House Transportation Chairman Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said Friday, March 31.
ST. PAUL—Environmental legislation going through the Minnesota Legislature could face trouble if it reaches Gov. Mark Dayton. The Democratic governor has said he strongly opposes a change in his signature environmental policy, requiring vegetative buffers around the state's waters. Bills by the Republican House and Senate would change and delay the 2-year-old law, along with making other environment-related changes the governor may not like. "I'll veto any bill that has any gutting or delay in the buffers," Dayton has said.
ST. PAUL—U.S. Rep. Tim Walz says he is running for governor, giving Democrats a candidate from greater Minnesota, where Republicans dominated in 2016. Walz made his announcement in a Monday morning, March 27, interview with the Post-Bulletin of Rochester. "I think now more than ever people are just wanting (government) to work," Walz said. "They are not looking for the partisanship. They are not looking for me to have all the answers, but they are certainly looking for me to bring people together to find those solutions that we all know are there."
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers plan to figure out their state budget plans in the next two weeks. With that deadline in mind, House Republicans announced Monday, March 20, they want to cut taxes $1.35 billion in the next two years. Later in the day, Senate Republicans said they want to spend $3.6 billion for transportation over 10 years.
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Al Franken is asking President Donald Trump to take action to fight bird flu before it reaches Minnesota and other states. Franken, D-Minn., wrote a letter to Trump Tuesday, March 14, after reports that avian influenza has hit poultry producers in Wisconsin and Tennessee. He told Trump that a 2015 bird flu outbreak cost the Minnesota economy nearly $650 million. Turkey and chicken producers experienced deaths of about 9 million birds.
ST. PAUL — A letter to the editor could lead to ethics charges against a Minnesota state senator. Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, said on Thursday, March 9, that he is considering asking the Senate Ethics Committee to find that Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen violated rules that ban misleading or untrue comments about a colleague.
ST. PAUL—Many low-income Minnesotans cannot afford to go to a dentist and many dentists say they cannot afford to serve those who receive state assistance. For serving the poor, Minnesota pays dentists 27 percent of what other Minnesotans pay. Because of that, many dentists no longer accept patients on Medicaid, a federal-state medical coverage program for the poor known in Minnesota as Medical Assistance. Other dentists limit how many MA patients they serve.