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 5 months
ST. PAUL — Minnesota's broadband situation is better than some other states but 12 percent of Minnesotans, mostly in greater Minnesota, have internet connection speeds slower than the state standard. "We're not taking the elevator, we are taking the stairs on this one," General Manager Dave Wolf of Gardonville Telephone Co-op of the Alexandria area said Wednesday, March 28, standing alongside Gov. Mark Dayton and other broadband advocates.
ST. PAUL—A Republican effort to short-circuit the approval process for the Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota drew fire at a state House hearing. "We have a series of checks and balances," Michele Naar of Duluth told the House jobs and energy committee Tuesday, March 27. "We have processes and we have requirements that are set up to protect the people and the land."
ST. PAUL — Tens of thousands of Minnesota state workers will get a raise after the House and Senate approved negotiated contracts. Senators voted 56-10 Monday, May 26, to bump up pay for more than 30,000 workers by 2 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The House followed a few hours later with a 93-33 vote. About half of workers are eligible for other increases, too, Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said. The raises will not increase taxes, Sen. Erik Simonson, D-Duluth, said because the added pay would come out of existing budgets.
ST. PAUL — Many Minnesota government pension plans are paying out more than they are taking in. State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, says that is troubling. Her colleagues agreed Monday, March 26, when they unanimously approved her bill that increases funding going into the pension plans and slightly cuts some benefits. While senators were together on the issue, the pension bill has not received a House committee hearing. Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend $27 million to help shore up public pensions.
ST. PAUL — Money appears headed to state agencies trying to fix a computer software problem that has frustrated Minnesotans making motor vehicle license and registration transactions. The Senate and House on Thursday, March 22, approved a $10 million immediate influx for state agencies working on the software, but another $33 million is being requested for use beginning July 1. Gov. Mark Dayton said he can sign the bill.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton seldom says he would veto a bill, but if it reaches his desk he promises to veto House-passed legislation to get the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System running smoothly. The measure representatives passed late Monday afternoon would take money from other agencies to fix the Public Safety Department program. Dayton said on Tuesday, March 20, that he refuses to let lawmakers "cannibalize" other departments' budgets to fix MNLARS.
ST. PAUL—A controversial permit system that limits when Minnesota landowners can mow roadside ditches allows noxious weeds to grow, a Minnesota state representative says. So Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, is behind a bill to force governments at all levels to exterminate weeds on their property. "Many road ditches are teeming" with weeds, Drazkowski told the House Agriculture Policy Committee Tuesday, March 20.
ST. PAUL—A fix for the troubled Minnesota License and Registration System that has frustrated thousands of vehicle owners may be close. The state Senate and House Monday, March 19, passed differing versions of legislation to pump $10 million into efforts to improve the MNLARS computer software system. A House-Senate conference committee is expected to work out the differences between the two bills, perhaps this week.
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.
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.