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—Rural Minnesota may never have been mentioned so often in a state Senate debate not about a specific rural issue. Small towns and farmers were featured Thursday, Jan. 12, before senators passed 35-31 legislation to help Minnesotans afford individual health insurance policies. Rural residents like farmers tend to rely on individual policies more than do those living in cities.
ST. PAUL — More than 200,000 Minnesotans soon will receive tax breaks Minnesota senators passed legislation 66-0 Thursday, Jan. 12, to cut taxes by making state tax law conform with federal law. The House already took the same action to help Minnesotans who are beginning to file income tax returns.
ST. PAUL — Jose Sanchez says his immigrant community fears living without driver's licenses. "Our community needs licenses to get around, to get to work, to get to school," he told a Minnesota House committee Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. "I ask that you listen to us and deal with your heart," he pleaded before the Republican-controlled committee voted 8-6 along party lines to keep in a provision that would enact a law banning immigrants to the United States without legal documentation from getting a license.
ST. PAUL — The University of Minnesota's request to bump up its state funding $147 million comes at a tough time. The big university news over the past few weeks has been a football scandal, easily topping the team's Holiday Bowl victory. With that fresh in Minnesotans' minds, university officials are hitting up the Legislature for more money. "It doesn't help," said Jennifer Schultz, a Duluth legislator and University of Minnesota Duluth professor. "Timing wise, it is really bad to get when these fires happen. And we have really had a lot of fires."
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is bringing back a public works funding bill much like he offered last year, on Wednesday, Jan. 4, proposing to spend $1.5 billion on projects ranging from water treatment plants to fixing college buildings. "These projects have a direct economic benefit," the governor told reporters in a conference call, promising to fight for the projects.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota may continue to put some of the worst sex offenders in prison-like facilities after they complete their sentences, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, Jan. 3. The decision reverses a Minnesota-based federal judge's 2015 ruling that the practice was unconstitutional because it, in effect, extended prison sentences. However, the three-judge panel said the program is needed to protect Minnesotans. About 700 sex offenders are in the program, and just six people have been released from it. "I am very glad that we have received that ruling," Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota may continue to put some of the worst sex offenders in prison-like facilities after they complete their sentences, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, Jan. 4. The decision reverses a Minnesota-based federal judge's 2015 ruling that the practice was unconstitutional because it, in effect, extended prison sentences.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton hopes 2017 will not be another 2011. "I am scarred by that experience," the Democratic governor said about the 2011 three-week state government shutdown after he and Republicans controlling the Legislature could not agree on a new two-year budget. He faces a similar situation in 2017, with Republicans gaining control of the state Senate in the Nov. 8 election and increasing their lock on the House.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota's minimum wage rises August 1 and several new laws will hit the books. The state's large employers must pay at least $9.50 an hour, while smaller businesses will be required to pay $7.75. Training and youth wages also must be at least $7.75. In 2018, Minnesota minimum wages begin rising annually to match inflation. Monday is the first increase in three years as part of a 2014 law Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton signed after a Legislature controlled by his party passed it. The minimum wage's first increase under the law was to $8 an hour in 2014.