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 3 months
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.
ST. PAUL — Cami Peterson-DeVries was intense when she pleaded with Minnesota lawmakers to find money so nursing homes could boost worker wages. "They can go to the sugar beet plant down the road and get more money," she told a state House committee. Peterson-DeVries, who was RenVilla Health Center administrator in Renville, was joined on the witness stand by many others from rural nursing homes across the state, including Michael Syltie of Wind West Village in Morris. He said that his 50-person staff had 15 openings. The testimony was Jan. 21, 2015.
ST. PAUL – Minnesota violates federal identification card rules, and Minnesotans needing an ID to get into some federal facilities may be out of luck. Within days, the federal government...
WASHINGTON — American schools will feel less federal intervention once the president signs a bill headed his way. Supporters of a measure the U.S. Senate passed 85-12 Wednesday, sending it to President Barack Obama, say that when it becomes law pressure Washington has put on local schools will ease and school leaders will have more say in what happens in classrooms. "There's nothing more important to our kids' futures — and our country's economic future — than providing them with a good education," said Sen.