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
- 5 years 9 months
ST. PAUL — Gary Haugen has lost his attempt to overturn a decades-old decision that forces him to install vegetative buffers. The lawsuit, recently decided by the Minnesota Appeals Court, technically dealt with whether an unnamed streambed is public — and, thus, required to have buffers along it — or a private water course. Appeals judges ruled, like a district judge did earlier, that the 1980 Department of Natural Resources decision that it is public stands.
ST. PAUL—Democrats and Republicans are getting together to bolster Minnesota's response to serious lapses in care delivered to senior citizens. State legislation to be considered soon was written to improve care already regulated by the state and to require assisted-living and dementia care facilities be licensed. Gov. Mark Dayton said he will ask legislators to appropriate nearly $15 million to make improvements in the rest of the current two-year budget; then, $25 million would be needed in the following two years.
ST. PAUL — The most bipartisan Minnesota gun safety bills offered so far this year were all but shot down as soon as they were introduced. Two Democrats and two Republicans on Monday, March 12, told reporters about a pair of bills — one requiring background checks on almost all gun buyers and a second making it mandatory to report lost or stolen firearms — they hope get through in a Legislature with a strong divide between the two political parties. Leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate made it clear the two bills are very unlikely to be considered.
ST. PAUL—Republican Minnesota lawmakers want a law requiring able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work. They said the bill they unveiled Monday, March 12, would not force disabled people or those who need to stay home to care for a dependent to give up Medicaid, known in Minnesota as Medical Assistance. Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury, said her bill would "lift Minnesotans out of poverty by encouraging them to get work." If they do not have jobs, they would be required to look for work or be enrolled in a job-training program.
ST. PAUL—Jessica Goodwin was holding her 1-year-old in a Lifetime Fitness Center last November with her four other children next to her and husband not far away when a "man walked up behind me and fully groped my buttocks." The Columbia Heights, Minn., woman talked to managers at the fitness center and police, only to learn the man's action was perfectly legal. She also learned that four other women said he groped them the same day, she said in written testimony given to Minnesota state senators.
ST. PAUL — A state office that exists to protect vulnerable Minnesotans, such as those in nursing homes, is dysfunctional and fails to safeguard people in its charge, a watchdog agency reports. The Office of Legislative Auditor issued one of its most critical reports ever on Tuesday, March 6. Legislative Auditor James Nobles called it "a serious problem in state government." Nobles and Deputy Legislative Auditor Judy Randall told of poor Health Department management, lost case files, lengthy delays and failure to communicate with vulnerable people.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota state government's aging computer systems' problems could be a common issue unless the information technology agency steps up its game. Legislators frequently bring up that prospect as they discuss the problem-filled Minnesota License and Registration System. Lawmakers from both parties say MNLARS is a disaster, with Republicans often also mentioning the ill-fated rollout of MNsure a few years back.
ST. PAUL—Fixing the problem-plagued Minnesota vehicle and license computer system may be stalled. Contractors trying to fix the state software are receiving notices that the state is out of money to pay them. Minnesota Information Technology Services mailed letters Thursday night, March 1, to 21 people working as independent contractors. The state agency says workers will begin to leave right away, which will stop work to repair the ill-fated computer system that has angered Minnesotans since summer.
ST. PAUL — Some Minnesota lawmakers say they can be more effective in fighting childhood hunger if they regularly meet with organizations in and out of government who deal with the situation. So state Reps. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, and Erin Maye Quade, D-Apple Valley, launched the Child Hunger Caucus. "We cannot allow childhood hunger to continue to be a silent issue," Maye Quade said.
ST. PAUL—A couple of businesses are moving to Windom, a 4,646-population community in southwest Minnesota, but the mayor there worries that the city cannot handle much more growth. The limiting factor may be the city's need for a new sewage treatment plant to meet state and federal guidelines. Mayor Dominic Jones, who in his private life is director of the Red Rock Rural Water District, said the mandated sewage plant would cost $15 million if it could be built now, but the city cannot afford it.