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 -- Property tax decreases, budget balancing and health care reform were the prime topics of high-level negotiations Thursday in the Legislature. Little, if any, progress was reported during the talks. Legislative leaders did not appear panicked even though little time remains for them and Gov. Tim Pawlenty to hammer out a session-ending deal. Legislators have through Sunday to pass bills. They can meet Monday, but only for ceremonial matters. At one point Thursday afternoon, Senate Tax Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, was asked if progress was being made.
ST. PAUL - Property tax and budget-balancing negotiations continue today, with legislative leaders providing no proof of significant progress. "It would be a good day to resolve it," House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said as she entered the talks. Without resolution to outstanding legislative issues today, chances for a smooth end of the 2008 session decrease. Sunday is the final day lawmakers can pass bills, although they can be in session Monday for ceremonial and other purposes. Talks involve two major items. First, Republican Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Drunken drivers, look out. A top lawmaker on transportation issues said drunken driving offenders should brace for tougher laws coming from the Minnesota Legislature in 2009. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said he wants legislators next year to take a "real hard look" at the state's drunken driving laws because the number of drivers tagged with a DWI who r-offend has increased. He called it a disturbing trend. "We're going to crack down on drunk drivers next year," Murphy said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Rep. Bud Heidgerken thinks legislative education negotiators had an ulterior motive in making hockey the state sport. "This looks like a political puck to get the governor's support," the Freeport Republican said of Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Pawlenty administration officials and legislators paved over a pothole that prevented agreement on highway safety issues Wednesday, but a transportation bill containing those issues faces a likely rough road today when representatives debate a strict seatbelt provision. A House-Senate conference committee retrieved a bill it earlier had approved so it could remove a provision that troubled Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- a requirement that all children motor vehicle passengers up to age 8 use child restraint systems.
ST. PAUL -- Northwest Airlines often does not fulfill promises, state Sen. Steve Murphy said Wednesday, so lawmakers should not believe a pledge to retain most Minnesota jobs if the company becomes part of Delta Air Lines. "Until Delta comes to the table and tells me that, I am not going to believe it -- period," said Murphy, DFL-Red Wing.
ST. PAUL -- The Tim Pawlenty vice presidential buzz keeps growing louder. Recent blogs have been full of speculation about the Minnesota governor becoming Sen. John McCain's running mate. Jonathan Martin of the Politico Web site reported that Pawlenty packed a Georgetown townhouse in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night to raise money for his campaign committee. Pawlenty's campaign said he raised more than $40,000. Event host Ken Mehlman said Pawlenty is on Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators gave final approval to studying a rare cancer found on the Iron Range when the House voted 121-1 in favor of a $4.9 million expenditure. Mesothelioma is believed to have resulted in 58 northeastern Minnesota deaths, but scientists are not sure about the cause. "This study is a commitment to those that work in the mines on the Iron Range and for all workers across the state: If something where you work is making you sick, we are going to get to the bottom of it," said bill sponsor Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia.
The toughest part of deciding to support Sen. Barak Obama for president was one telephone call, Nancy Larson of Dassel said. The day after the Minnesota Democrat super delegate decided on Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton, Larson received a call from former first daughter Chelsea Clinton.
Minnesota Independence Party Chairman Craig Swaggert was surprised to learn from a reporter his party had a candidate for the 7th Congressional District race this year - at least according to party's Web site. Swaggert could not figure out how Alan Roebke of Chaska -- who earlier this year told some reporters he was running as a Republican in the 7th and said his 2003 federal fraud conviction helped to shape his views on agriculture issues -- showed up on the party's Web site listing candidates. Swaggert later said a party staffer posted Roebke's information on the site by mistake and that t