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 — Work on the Minnesota state budget slowed Wednesday, May 10, to allow a senator to be with her dying father. House members pressed ahead, passing a tax-cut bill and another funding transportation. Budget negotiations between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton stopped after the GOP began pushing their budget bills to full House and Senate votes Tuesday.
ST. PAUL—Republicans who control the Minnesota Legislature are moving their budget plan over Democratic claims that their actions are illegal. And the governor said he would veto each of the 10 bills making up the GOP's $46 billion, two-year spending proposal. Budget talks among legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton began late last week, and continued early Tuesday afternoon, May 9, but leaders put their budget legislation in front of lawmakers late afternoon with little notice.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislation to battle female genital mutilation now includes penalties requiring up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $30,000. A bill offered by Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, on Monday, May 8, was amended to spell out higher penalties for the crime, starting at five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The measure also would make parents liable for charges. The bill, which passed on a voice vote out of a House public safety committee, "makes penalties graduated based on level of harm," Rep. Debra Hilstrom, D-Brooklyn Center, said.
ST. PAUL — President Donald Trump nominated a Minnesota Supreme Court justice to a St. Louis-based federal appeals court. The White House announced that David Stras received the Trump nod Monday, May 8, for the appeals court in the Eighth Circuit, which hears cases for Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Arkansas. Before Trump was elected, Stras was reported to be on the short list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Instead, he is one of several apparently headed to the appeals court.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota senators are sending a pair of abortion restriction bills to the governor, who promises to veto them. A mostly Republican Senate majority voted Thursday, May 4, to require many abortion clinics to be licensed and to ban state funding for abortions. The House earlier passed the bills. "I oppose both of them," Gov. Mark Dayton said as the Senate began its debate, promising to veto both. Republicans have passed similar bills in the past, always meeting Democratic resistance.
ST. PAUL—Farhio Khalif brought a "hush hush" religious ritual often called female genital mutilation into the open, saying the procedure is very painful to girls and parents should know it is illegal. Khalif said she should know, because it happened to her as a child. "It is not our will as little girls," she said, but parents make the decision for their daughters to undergo what also is called female circumcision.
ST. PAUL — Complaints that are pouring in about funding the Republican-controlled Minnesota House and Senate propose give an insight into the distance lawmakers stand from Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton whenever final negotiations begin. Many of the complaints come from Dayton commissioners and people who support his budget plan. Take, for instance, higher education spending. The GOP plan calls for $3.2 billion to be spent in state taxpayer money in the next two years, a $125 million increase.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislative negotiators powered through some of their proposed $46 billion, two-year budget Monday, May 1, afternoon and night as they aimed for negotiations with Gov. Mark Dayton they hoped would result in a framework of a final budget deal later this week. It was a busy day in the Capitol, with House Republicans releasing their $600 million public works finance bill and immigrants rallying under the dome.
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—Beth Hodgman pleaded that southern Minnesota's U.S. 14 be made safer. "Drivers make mistakes, but they shouldn't be life sentences," the West Concord widow told a Wednesday, April 19, rally seeking more state highway funding. Hodgman's husband, Scott, died in 2012 on the highway, which legislators in the area for years have put at the top of their priorities. "Scott's accident shouldn't have been fatal," Hodgman said. "If Highway 14 had been expanded to four lanes, it wouldn't have been."