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 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.
Minnesota's Legislature is tough to comprehend. Just ask some freshmen Democratic senators who the other day became confused as green "yes" and red "no" vote lights began flashing on giant tally boards on either side of the Senate chamber when their tax bill vote was being counted. Some Republican senators played games with rookies by pushing their green buttons, looking like they were voting in favor of the bill.
ST. PAUL -- Gay marriage supporters feel victory in the air. Their confidence is high as Minnesota state representatives plan to vote on overturning an existing same-sex marriage ban on Thursday, with senators following in a few days. "We've felt pretty good in the Senate for a long time," bill sponsor Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said after the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday passed his measure on a split voice vote. Even gay marriage opponent Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said the bill likely will pass the Senate.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House likely will approve a minimum wage increase later this week, after a committee Monday expanded the bill's reach by doubling state-required parental leave for a new child. Under the amended measure by Rep Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, employers would be required to grant 12-week leaves after a birth or adoption. The House Ways and Means Committee tacked the provision onto Winkler's bill that aims to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour in 2015 from today's $6.15.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota already is on track to establish a new way for its residents to buy health insurance, and now legislators are poised to change how the state takes care of its elderly, disabled and poor. On a 36-28 vote, Senators early Friday approved their plan to spend $11.2 billion in the next two years for health care, which is second only to public school funding in the $38 billion state budget. The plan by Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, builds on the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota state representatives approved 70-64 a health-care spending bill late Monday without knowing how it would affect hospitals around the state. Most Democrats favored the bill while most Republicans opposed it. Highlighting debate was an amendment by Rep. Will Morgan, DFL-Burnsville, that the Democrat-controlled House put on the overall bill to change how funding would be distributed to hospitals. Time after time when Republican lawmakers asked Morgan how his amendment would affect hospitals.
ST. PAUL -- Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators voted themselves and other state officials pay raises Tuesday with no debate. The only mention of the raises, part of a larger bill funding several state agencies, in the Senate came when bill sponsor Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, quickly described the bill. He did not provide specifics. When the vote came late in the afternoon, two big voting boards in the Senate chamber showed it failing by a single vote, then tied 33-33. After several minutes at 33-33, Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, changed from a "no" vote to "yes," and acting President Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Senate Democrats suggest adding surcharges on nursing homes and health maintenance organizations to help make up for a $150 million cut to state health programs ordered by legislative leaders. A bill unveiled Monday by Sen.