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 -- Minnesota businesses would benefit if a U.S. Senate-passed immigration reform law becomes law, U.S. Sen. Al Franken and other bill supporters say. "It fixes our broken immigration system," the Democratic Minnesota senator said. The bill would provide a pathway for illegal immigrants to become American citizens, which in many cases could take 13 years. About 85,000 undocumented immigrants live in Minnesota.
ST. PAUL -- Pay attention to the Minnesota state budget: There will be a test. The test comes Nov. 4, 2014, the next general election. That is when voters decide whether to retain Democratic control of the House and governor's office, or to give Republicans another chance. (Senate seats are not on the ballot until 2016.) Signs are that the 2014 vote will be a contest between the Republican budget of the past two years and a newly enacted Democratic budget that ends in 2015.
ST. PAUL -- Some Minnesota businesses are pushing the pause button on constructing new facilities, awaiting word about whether state legislators will allow a new tax to be collected. A $20 million Red Wing Shoes distribution center is on hold "until we find out what happens," John Sachen of the company said Thursday during a state Capitol news conference. "We have already stopped business," said Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing. "That's jobs."
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota same-sex couples who can wed beginning in a little more than a month will receive the same benefits as other married couples after the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled unconstitutional a federal law that did not recognize gay marriage. Among the most important of those benefits is allowing same-sex couples file joint income tax returns to receive a lower tax rate and Social Security to be collected based on a spouse's income, Executive Director Chuck Samuelson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said.
U.S. House agriculture leaders will try, try again to pass a five-year farm bill. "It's been four years and we are not going to give up now," U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said Thursday after the House defeated on a 234-195 vote a bill setting federal agriculture and nutrition policy for five years.
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ST. PAUL -- Paint will cost more and be recycled. Bees will be protected. Financially troubled farmers will be able to access state aid. And an island to provide more wildlife habitat could be built in the Mississippi River. Those are a few of the impacts from a diverse environment, natural resources and agriculture funding bill headed for Gov. Mark Dayton's expected approval. The overall bill spends $312 million on programs such as in the Agriculture Department, Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Democrats say new money they are putting into education will boost the economy by giving the state a better-educated workforce. "This is a very bold and ambitious plan..." House Education Finance Chairman Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota is a Senate vote and a governor's signature away from becoming the 12th state to allow gay marriage. Same-sex marriage supporters are optimistic because the House was regarded as the biggest hurdle. After the bill passed the House surprisingly easily 75-59, they were euphoric. The Senate is due to take up the bill Monday and Democratic Gov.