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 -- Minnesotans may not know what the word means, but starting Friday they began to feel the impact of automatic and deep federal budget cuts known as "sequestration." No one knows for sure how Minnesotans will be affected, but there is widespread agreement it will be felt. U.S. Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota judges for years told the public that justice delayed is justice denied, and budget cuts delay justice. Budget struggles eased two years ago and now court officials seek a budget bump to raise judges and staff members' pay. "Our priority last (legislative budget) session was to stop the bleeding," Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said in an interview. "So this session, our priority is our people," she added.
ST. PAUL -- New silica sand mines would be prohibited from opening for a year under a bill a state Senate committee approved Tuesday. Besides a moratorium, the bill would require a study on the environmental impact of sand mines, establish a board to deal with the issue and levy taxes that would go to state and local governments. The 8-4 vote in favor of the bill by Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans fighting Asian carp think they may have temporary and permanent ways to slow the advance of the voracious eater. Organizations at a Wednesday Asian carp summit hosted by Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar agreed they would try to convince boaters to stop using a Mississippi River lock in Minneapolis so it can remain closed and act as a barrier to fish that can eat so much food that they push out native species.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota officials would study the environmental impact of silica sand mining and provide technical assistance to local governments dealing with sand mining issues under a bill to be introduced Monday in the state Senate. The bill by Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Adding money to early childhood education and all-day kindergarten programs, as Gov. Mark Dayton suggests, is important to Minnesota's future, the state House education finance leader says. "Those two programs really pay dividends into the future," Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said Tuesday before he presented the Dayton budget proposal to his committee. Dayton's $15.5 billion two-year education budget proposal would be about $1 billion more than for the two years ending June 30.
ST. PAUL -- Federal tax law changes could lead to a deeper Minnesota budget deficit, the state Senate leader says, one of several uncertainties about the state budget. The possibility of a growing state deficit and ambiguity about what is happening in Washington raise questions about whether Gov. Mark Dayton's $38 billion two-year budget proposal will need major alterations.
ST. PAUL -- Call it Gun Week 2 in the Minnesota Legislature. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans Thursday and Friday meetings on bills written to curb gun violence. They likely will include proposals to ban so-called assault weapons and magazines with large numbers of bullets. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he expects an even larger crowd for the hearings than the 500 who attended House meetings earlier this month. Bakk said security concerns have been raised about the hearings, but was not specific.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's senior congressional Republican shows little optimism that massive automatic federal spending cuts can be avoided. "My expectation is that we will see the cuts take effect," U.S. Rep. John Kline told reporters Monday after meeting with legislators in the Minnesota Capitol. Kline cited a report that shows if Washington politicians allow the cuts, more than 4,600 Minnesotans in defense-related jobs will be out of work. He did not have figures for how many others could be affected. The automatic cuts, known as sequestration, are scheduled to hit next month.