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 — The radio host asked a reporter: "What do we know about things happening at the Legislature?" Simple question. Not such a simple answer. The fact is that political reporters know as much as anyone other than high-level legislators, and rank-and-file lawmakers often come to reporters for information as a legislative session winds down. But, frankly, closed-door meetings among legislative leaders and the governor near the end of nearly every legislative session means the public is left in the dark until the legislative deed is done.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Legislature has three days left to pass bills, and nearly all major legislation remains in limbo. On Thursday, May 17, a Republican-written tax bill received a veto stamp, in front of a couple dozen school children, as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton fulfilled a promise to reject the bill until lawmakers approve $138 million in school aid.
ST. PAUL—Minnesotans watching the final days of the Legislature need to remember one thing: There is nothing lawmakers must do. There is plenty they would like to do, but if they just go home today, little will change in the state. That is quite different from an odd-numbered year when they must approve a budget or state government would shut down. Perhaps the most complex issue is the one legislators will push the hardest to pass, a tax bill.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota would collect $20 million from opioid painkiller makers and distributors under Senate-passed legislation. "We cannot continue to go at this pace," Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, said about an epidemic of deaths due to opioid abuse. "We are losing people daily." Senators backed the bill 60-6 Thursday, May 10. It is one of the major bills in the Legislature this year, and one that especially rural Minnesotans say is at the top of their priority lists.
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 — Minnesotans should be able to use their existing driver's licenses and identification cards until 2020 to board domestic airline flights and enter some federal facilities. State officials announced Monday, May 7, that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has informed them that since the state is making progress in meeting federal Real ID standards, the deadline may be extended. While not an official deadline extension, Minnesota officials said they expect that to be granted.
ST. PAUL — About two weeks remain in the 2018 legislative session, so it is time for the work to begin. At least it is time for the final work. Now is when the House, Senate and administration to sit down in conference committees and behind closed doors to reach deals. Even-numbered years like 2018 normally are centered on funding public works projects. This year, such work nearly has been an afterthought as so many other issues have shot to the top.
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—Taxes have taken over as the 2018 Minnesota Legislative session's No. 1 issue, thanks federal tax law changes that will affect most Americans. The House tax plan passed 90-38 Monday, April 30, and Senate Republicans announce their proposal Tuesday morning, making it the third plan as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton announced his wishes weeks ago. The House Republican majority says its measure will provide 2.1 million Minnesotans tax cuts. If the Legislature and Dayton do nothing, about 300,000 would pay more.
ST. PAUL—What we have here is a failure to communicate. That is what Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt said on Thursday, April 26, about news coverage of gun legislation written from his comments a day earlier. "Obviously, there was some misunderstanding of our press conference," Daudt said late Thursday afternoon, after spending the day trying to make sure gun-rights advocates knew that he still supports them. "It is my fault too, because I wasn't as clear as I should have been," he added.