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 Republican governor candidate Jeff Johnson has picked an American Indian who lives in Duluth as his running mate. Although observers had expected a greater Minnesota women to be Johnson's pick as lieutenant governor, his Monday, May 14, announcement was a surprise to many because Donna Bergstrom lives in Duluth and belongs to the Red Lake Nation, both Democratic strongholds. Johnson and Bergstrom said they agree on many topics. "The proper role of government is to serve and not to bully," Bergstrom said.
ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton needs to accept a smaller public works bill, the Minnesota Senate chairman in charge of the issue says. "I don't have a nickel more to spend on bonding," Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said Wednesday, May 9, after releasing his public works funding bill. Democrat Dayton earlier this year unveiled a $1.5 billion bonding bill, a proposal that did not include local projects that he said merit funding, leaving him supporting $2.3 billion in public works projects.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota state leaders are preparing to negotiate one of the most complex tax law rewrites in decades. With the Senate passing, by 34-32, its version of the tax legislation on Thursday, May 3, all three pieces are in place for the governor and legislative leaders to ensure that recent massive changes in federal tax law do not force hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans to pay more.
ST. PAUL—Repairing, not building, is a public works priority for Minnesota House Republicans. Instead of constructing lots of new buildings, they propose fixing roofs, painting peeling walls and other such routine but needed work. The House public works plan, to be funded by the state selling bonds, would spend $825 million, Republicans announced late Wednesday afternoon, May 2. Of that, $364 million would go to preserve state facilities.
ST. PAUL—Kris Sundberg's story is tough to hear. Her father was in an assisted living center. Newspapers piled up outside his door and he did not go to the dining room for a week. Finally, a neighbor urged staff to check on him. Once they did, they found he was dead, apparently for seven days. It was so bad, Sundberg said, that a hazardous materials team had to clean the room before the family could remove belongings. Minnesota does not regulate assisted living facilities such as where her father lived.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's lieutenant governor, who says her main job is state senator, is being sued a second time for holding both positions. A constituent of Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, filed suit, saying the state Constitution clearly says that one person cannot hold offices in two branches of government. The lieutenant governor is in the executive branch with the governor, while a senator serves in the legislative branch as one of 201 lawmakers. Fischbach is Senate president.
ST. PAUL—No one argues about one aspect of a proposed change to the Minnesota Constitution. "If it goes forward, it will affect every single person in Minnesota," Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said about his proposal to dedicate sales tax revenue collected on vehicle parts and repairs to road and bridge programs. The two sides argue how the proposal would affect Minnesotans. Newman says the amendment, which would go in front of the public at the Nov. 6 general election, would help all Minnesotans.
ST. PAUL—Shauna Reitmeier sat at a Minnesota Senate committee table telling lawmakers the bill they were considering would hurt mentally ill patients she serves. Sitting inches to her right Thursday, March 29, was Sen. Mark Johnson, author of the bill she pleaded that senators defeat. It would require some able-bodied people to work if they receive government-funded health care.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota farmers are committing suicide in numbers that rival the low days of agriculture during the 1980s farm crisis. "Unfortunately, there is no end in sight," Meg Moynihan of the state Agriculture Department told the House Agriculture Finance Committee Tuesday, March 27. Moynihan coordinates the Farm and Rural Helpline, (833) 600-2670, which provides rural residents a place to call when they experience mental health problems.
ST. PAUL—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took a major step forward to run for his old job on Monday, March 19, in announcing he filed campaign committee paperwork. That makes it all but certain the Republican is seeking the governor's office again. A written announcement he distributed, while refusing media interviews, follows a series of speeches in Minnesota that made it sound like he was running.