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 farmers and agriculture-related groups ask for very little money from the state. Gov. Mark Dayton's $46 billion two-year budget proposal would give just short of $1 billion to the Agriculture Department. At the same time, agriculture provides between 20 percent and 30 percent of Minnesota's jobs and wealth and agriculture leaders say their industry could do even better with a bit more help from the state. Pat Lunemann said a priority must be "to make sure we have a level playing field with the states surrounding us."
ST. PAUL — Raising Minnesota's next two-year budget nearly 10 percent is Gov. Mark Dayton's ask. "We must wisely invest and use our resources," his finance commissioner, Myron Frans, told reporters on Tuesday, Jan. 24, in announcing hopes to increase spending for transportation, education, local governments and other budget areas. The Dayton plan would spend almost $46 billion in the two years beginning July 1. That 9.6 percent boost is too much for Republicans, but GOP leaders said they have not had time to dissect the Dayton proposal.
ST. PAUL — No one wants to celebrate a 70th birthday with a new cancer diagnosis and recent history of fainting on statewide television. But that is what Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton faces Thursday, Jan. 26, when that landmark day arrives.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Mark Dayton has a prescription for a new type of health insurance. Ironically, he was just getting into the issue during his Monday night, Jan. 23, State of the State speech when he encountered his own health issue. He collapsed 45 minutes into his speech; he walked out, but with assistance, after a few minutes and was reported doing well at home an hour later.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton collapsed during his State of the State speech Monday night, Jan. 23, getting up and walking away with help a few minutes later. It was not immediately clear what happened to him or what his condition was. When he got up, he waved and walked with assistance to a back room. He reportedly walked out of the Capitol and left in his official vehicle, and he felt well enough that he declined to immediately go to a hospital.
ST. PAUL—Nearly two years into a Minnesota law requiring plant buffers between cropland and water, some farmers remain furious. They say the 2015 buffer law violates the U.S. Constitution provision saying no "private property (can) be taken for public use without just compensation," that buffers take too much land out of crops and lower its value, that discussion about options to planting 50-foot buffers is starting too late and that farmers know what is best for their own land. In other words, arguments made against the law two years ago remain alive.
ST. PAUL—The Minnesota House Taxes Committee chairman is tired of dealing with Wisconsin about income taxes. So Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, drew up a provision he plans to insert into his tax bill this year that would reimburse Minnesotans who pay higher taxes working in Wisconsin than if they worked in Minnesota. For decades, the states had an agreement that made tax time simpler—and in many cases cheaper—for people living in one state and working in the other, but efforts to reinstate that have failed.
ST. PAUL—Rural Minnesota may never have been mentioned so often in a state Senate debate not about a specific rural issue. Small towns and farmers were featured Thursday, Jan. 12, before senators passed 35-31 legislation to help Minnesotans afford individual health insurance policies. Rural residents like farmers tend to rely on individual policies more than do those living in cities.
ST. PAUL — Jose Sanchez says his immigrant community fears living without driver's licenses. "Our community needs licenses to get around, to get to work, to get to school," he told a Minnesota House committee Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. "I ask that you listen to us and deal with your heart," he pleaded before the Republican-controlled committee voted 8-6 along party lines to keep in a provision that would enact a law banning immigrants to the United States without legal documentation from getting a license.
ST. PAUL — The University of Minnesota's request to bump up its state funding $147 million comes at a tough time. The big university news over the past few weeks has been a football scandal, easily topping the team's Holiday Bowl victory. With that fresh in Minnesotans' minds, university officials are hitting up the Legislature for more money. "It doesn't help," said Jennifer Schultz, a Duluth legislator and University of Minnesota Duluth professor. "Timing wise, it is really bad to get when these fires happen. And we have really had a lot of fires."