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—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."
ST. PAUL — Minnesotans who like neat hair may not like it, but the state blessed with strong winds is saving money by using it to create more electricity every year. The American Wind Energy Association announced Wednesday, April 19 that more than 15 percent of the state's electricity comes from wind power. That figure is predicted to double by 2021. Minnesota's largest electric utility, Xcel Energy, produces 19 percent of its power by wind, expected to increase to 34 percent in five years.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's Democratic governor admitted he probably will accept a Republican transportation funding plan he does not like, rural lawmakers said they heard loud and clear during a holiday break that farmers want buffer law changes and ralliers chanted support for the House Democratic leader's comments critical of white men who did not listen to women of color. Tuesday, April 18, was the first day of the 2017 Minnesota Legislature's home stretch, with a goal of reaching agreement on a $46 billion, two-year budget before a May 22 adjournment date.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans have time to lobby state leaders about wildly varying tax cuts proposals. State senators on Monday, April 3, approved 40-27 cutting taxes $900 million, following last week's House 80-52 vote in favor of a $1.35 billion cut. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's $300 million plan comes in below the tax cuts promoted by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The $1 billion difference could be in negotiations until near the constitutional May 22 legislative adjournment date.
ST. PAUL — Maybe the third time is a charm. That is the hope of Minnesotans who are tired of dodging potholes and daily fighting other road and transit woes. The state House and Senate have approved Republican-written transportation funding bills that greatly vary from what Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton wants. But despite having passed their legislation, it is more of a beginning. "We have to start somewhere," House Transportation Chairman Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said Friday, March 31.
ST. PAUL—Environmental legislation going through the Minnesota Legislature could face trouble if it reaches Gov. Mark Dayton. The Democratic governor has said he strongly opposes a change in his signature environmental policy, requiring vegetative buffers around the state's waters. Bills by the Republican House and Senate would change and delay the 2-year-old law, along with making other environment-related changes the governor may not like. "I'll veto any bill that has any gutting or delay in the buffers," Dayton has said.