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 8 months
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he and the Legislature should try to work together like they did in restoring the Capitol building. In his final State of the State speech Wednesday, March 14, the Democratic governor looked back at his two terms in office and ahead to tasks remaining during his final 299 days on the job.
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—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—Some lawmakers fear state agencies will drain funds away from a lawsuit settlement with iconic Minnesota business 3M, which is accused of dumping dangerous chemicals in the southeastern Twin Cities. The state sued 3M for $5 billion, and last month settled on an $850 million payment to the state Department of Natural Resource and Pollution Control Agency. "My No. 1 concern is that the dollars being put into this fund are dollars that actually get out to projects on the ground in this area," Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, said.
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 — Minnesota's state budget has flipped from being in deficit to surplus, but the added money is less than legislative leaders expected. Minnesota Management and Budget, the state finance agency, projects a $329 million surplus for the current $46 billion budget, which ends July 1, 2019. However, Minnesota legislative leaders told a Forum News Service forum two weeks ago that they expected a surplus of $600 million to $1 billion.
ST. PAUL—States across the country want to update their sexual misconduct rules after lawmakers, including in Minnesota, have been forced out of office. "We have seen an unprecedented amount of attention to this topic," Jon Griffin of the National Conference of State Legislatures said on Monday, Feb. 26, to a Minnesota House committee established to set up new rules in the next three months. Monday was the first meeting of the committee, which expects to prepare recommendations for how sexual misconduct is handled by the time lawmakers adjourn for the year on May 21.
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.