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 12 months
By Don Davis FORUM NEWS SERVICE Minnesotans may begin shopping for insurance online Tuesday, as a fundamental part of a new federal health law begins. A majority of people receive health insurance via their employers and nearly all of those policies will continue as is. Those on government-subsidized health care, some small-business employees and people without insurance or who carry their own private insurance are the ones who may be attracted to government-run services known as “marketplaces” or “exchanges.” MNsure is the Minnesota marketplace.
The state minimum wage is $6.15 an hour, but most workers earn at least the federal minimum of $7.25. Democrats in charge of the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton’s office want workers to be paid more, but to pass a bill they will have to find a number they can agree on. The House passed a bill to set the rate at $9.50 an hour by 2015, with automatic future increases based on inflation. But the Senate passed legislation to increase the minimum wage to $7.75 an hour by 2015.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Supreme Court justices questioned whether they should overturn a murder conviction of a man, convicted of killing a deputy sheriff, because he is an American Indian whose trial was held in a mostly white county. During the court’s Wednesday hearing in the 2009 death of Deputy Chris Dewey, justices grilled the attorney representing Thomas Lee Fairbanks, who in 2011 was convicted of the crime.
By Don Davis /MN Capitol Bureau ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislators breezed through disaster-relief approval Monday, about as fast as winds that uprooted thousands of trees in June, but spent far more time discussing what Republicans called a “man-made disaster” of tax increases. Local governments in 18 counties from west-central to southeast Minnesota will split $4.5 million lawmakers approved to help recover from a June 20-26 storm and flood disaster. Federal funds are to cover the remaining damage to public property. Total damage was $18 million.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton talked for days about the need to hold a special session to help communities recover from late-June floods and storms, but Friday night decided to look at ways to provide money short of calling all 201 legislators back to St. Paul. If a special session is needed, four legislative leaders and Dayton agreed it would be Sept.
ST. PAUL -- Legislative sessions have consequences, and 2013’s version will be felt by many Minnesotans. Republicans say Minnesotans of all stripes will pay higher taxes. Democrats claim residents will receive better service. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, spelled out how this year’s session, especially the budget Democrats passed, would produce “real, tangible results.” “My neighbors won’t pay $2,600 for all-day, everyday kindergarten,” Sieben said.
ST. PAUL — Here are how some issues fared at the recently completed 2013 Minnesota Legislature: Bonding: Gov. Mark Dayton and House Democrats wanted to borrow $750 million to $800 million for public works projects around the state, but Republicans and Senate Democrats favored something smaller. In the end, they agreed to spend $177 million, with $132 million to continue a state Capitol building renovation project.
Gay Minnesotans and their supporters rallied with tears of sadness rolling down their faces two years ago. Today, their faces are covered with tears of elation as the Minnesota Senate voted to allow them to marry.
Minnesota is a vote and a signature away from becoming the 12th state to allow gay marriage. The House voted 75-59 today to eliminate an existing gay-marriage ban in state law. A Senate vote comes Monday and Gov. Mark Dayton says he will sign the bill. Even Republicans who oppose gay marriage say Senate support for the bill is even stronger than in the House.
ST. PAUL – Many Minnesotans may be perfectly happy to see sex offenders tossed behind bars, with jailers throwing away the keys. However, a federal judge says the system Minnesota uses is so close to the throw-away-the-key philosophy that it violates the U.S. Constitution. He threatens to take action if Minnesota leaders do not fix the system. If that change does not come in the legislative session that ends May 20, the judge could order the state to make expensive changes and order state officials to release offenders.