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 -- Status of some issues in the Minnesota Legislature: Baby product safety: Bills are moving through the Legislature to outlaw baby products made with certain materials, but face skepticism from some lawmakers. Biofuels: Lawmakers are considering increasing blends of biodiesel -- a fuel made of plant oil and diesel -- to 20 percent from the current 2 percent. Bonding: The House and Senate have passed their own public works funding proposals, but have yet to agree on a compromise agreement.
ST. PAUL -- A bill written by the state House tax leader eliminating all state aid to business includes killing the rural Job Opportunity Building Zones program. Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said she was surprised at the strong reaction to her surprise proposal on Wednesday, even though Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's JOBZ project is only a small part of a bill that would raise $280 million. "The bottom line is that the program has helped rural Minnesota," said Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans could sue insurance companies that don't pay claims under a bill senators preliminarily approved Tuesday. The measure -- called the "good faith" bill by supporters because it requires insurance companies to act in good faith when dealing with claims -- "makes that consumer whole, that they do get what they pay for," bill sponsor Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, said. Final Senate approval is expected today. The House is considering a similar bill. Sen.
People living in manufactured homes - what used to be called mobile homes - also face financial problems. Chip Halbach, Minnesota Housing Partnership's executive director, said the 50,000 families in manufactured homes would not receive the same help under the Davnie-Anderson bill as owners of traditional homes. "If they run behind in payments they can lose a home in as little as 30 days," Halbach said.
ST. PAUL -- Finding justice will be tougher for Minnesotans if proposed budget cuts materialize, court officials from across the state tell legislators. "We are rapidly approaching a crisis in our court administration offices that will have a detrimental effect on the people who serve and those who rely upon our work," Chief Judge Gary Schurrer of the 10th Judicial District wrote to lawmakers. Minnesota court officials for years have said they need more money to keep up with a growing caseload -- 2 million cases are filed each year.
ST. PAUL -- Cutting public works spending to a level Gov. Tim Pawlenty can accept could doom all such spending, the issue's key senator said. "If the governor gets his way, I don't know if we have the votes" to pass the bill, Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, said Thursday. Langseth's comment followed a Senate Finance Committee vote that changed a funding bill the full Senate earlier approved by an overwhelming margin.
ST. PAUL -- Repercussions continue five years after Dru Sjodin was kidnapped and killed by a sex offender released from prison months earlier. The 2008 Minnesota Legislature still is tweaking sex offender laws. Bills advancing this year include those to reduce county costs, help track sex offenders after they get out of prison, and add to what constitutes a sex crime. The most controversial may be a proposal by Rep.