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 10 months
ST. PAUL—The battleground for new federal health insurance legislation may be in the same place as last year's presidential election was decided: rural America. Democrats are telling rural Donald Trump voters that they do better under current law championed by then-President Barack Obama. An example comes from the Democrat-leaning National Farmers Union and its president, a former North Dakota agriculture commissioner.
ST. PAUL — State lawmakers begin the "Minnesota two-step." That is how Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, on Thursday, April 27, described the planned release of spending compromises key legislators have reached as they begin the real work of crafting a two-year state budget expected to hit $46 billion. The announcement, the first step of the process, is the most concrete sign of progress as lawmakers face a May 22 constitutional deadline to adjourn for the year, unless they need to return to finish the budget in a special session.
ST. PAUL — Collin Peterson is running for U.S. House again, but Rick Nolan is waiting to decide whether to make a re-election or governor bid. And Tim Walz is giving up his House seat to run for governor.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota communities could not regulate wages, benefits or employee scheduling under legislation that appears headed to Gov. Mark Dayton. Bill sponsor Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said that it would not hamper local control, as critics say. "I am all for local control and I don't think you can get any more local than relationships between employers and employees." But opponents of the measure said cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul that already have enacted employee rules should have that ability.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislators actually can work together. Sure, the media mostly covers things when Democrats and Republicans disagree. But there have been several bills to gain broad bipartisan support, and one major piece of legislation actually passed the House unanimously. The House voted 131-0 in favor of spending $500 million of sales tax receipts Minnesotans authorized in a 2008 vote for clean water, arts, culture, outdoors and parks projects.
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 — Molly O'Neill loves being back home, even though her home lacks running water. It is just that with $500 monthly college loan payments, she said that she cannot afford plumbing in her Lutsen home in far northeastern Minnesota. "This is a problem that is not going away in the foreseeable future," she told members of a Senate committee Tuesday, May 7, with the possibility of paying off loans until she is 48, which is 15 years distant.
Many Minnesota educators do not understand how to interpret scores of state and federal mandated tests. An Office of Legislative Auditor report released Monday, March 6, included a survey showing a lack of understanding. It also showed educators questioning the usefulness of the the best-known statewide test, Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, better known as MCA. How test results are used varies greatly from school to school, the auditor's office reported, but a statewide survey showed nowhere near half of principals or teachers see the tests as "very useful."
Minnesota representatives lifted their glasses to Sunday liquor store sales, the first time either chamber of the state Legislature has approved removing a ban that dates back to statehood. With an 85-45 Monday, Feb. 20 House vote, attention now turns to see whether senators also want to overturn the sales prohibition. House members voted 70-56 last year against dumping the law, giving supporters of the legislation hope because of the massive turnaround.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—Be honest. Know what you want to say. Talk to reporters. With that, Patty and Jerry Wetterling laid out their secret to dealing with the media in the 27 years between when their