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
- 2 years 3 weeks
ST. PAUL - Browns Valley flood aid hit a political speed bump Thursday, but appears set for final legislative approval as early as today. The Minnesota House and Senate Thursday passed slightly differing versions of flood relief for the Minnesota community bordering South Dakota that sustained heavy damage in a March flood. On a 62-0 Thursday vote, senators approved sending $2 million to Browns Valley and allowing the community to dip into another $5.5 million fund to fight future floods. The House followed suit 120-8 later. Sen.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota policymakers earlier this year decided 25 percent of the state's electricity should come from renewable sources, but now the movement is expanding to include motor vehicle fuel and other energy sources. Part of an agriculture funding bill the House passed 131-2 Tuesday would put that requirement into law. For instance, it would require 25 percent of fuel used in cars to be made from renewable sources such as plant-based ethanol by 2025. The mandate is in a $91 million appropriation for state agriculture programs in the two-year budget beginning July 1.
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.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota Democratic legislative leaders thought relations with Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty were going well. Then he told a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce audience: "You don't celebrate getting out of Weight Watchers by going over to the all-you-can-eat buffet. So our message to the Legislature is: 'Push away from the table. Put your fork down.'" Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, was not laughing.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota must intervene to help the state maintain its ethanol leadership, supporters of the next generation of the plant-based fuel say. The intervention would include providing subsidies to farmers growing grass or other plants that are more efficient sources for ethanol than the traditional corn. It also would give loans to build new facilities to produce ethanol from nontraditional plants such as switch grass. Minnesota lawmakers are looking at more comprehensive ethanol changes than any other state, state Rep.
ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty authorized the Minnesota National Guard to help snow-buried communities late Thursday afternoon as a winter storm strengthened. Pawlenty signed an order authorizing the Guard to help with electric power generation, searching for people lost in the storm, providing shelter and other humanitarian efforts.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota legislators and the governor were thrilled with a $2.2 billion state budget surplus. Finally, property tax relief, education and health programs would be funded adequately. Many Republicans talked about rebates and Democrats were happy that they would have some money for their pet programs. That was last November. On Wednesday, state officials released their latest budget predictions, but despite showing a nearly identical surplus to the one announced three months ago, the Capitol attitude was gloomy, with some Democrats predicting tax increases.