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 -- No sooner had the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the state's new 75-cent-a-pack cigarette fee legal on Tuesday than lawmakers began arguing anew about what to do with it. Tax relief was the No. 1 suggestion for how to spend the up to $400 million the court ruling made available.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled the state's new cigarette fee is constitutional. In a Tuesday afternoon ruling, the court said the 75-cent-a-pack fee does not violate a 1998 settlement reached with big tobacco companies. The tobacco makers and sellers said the 1998 deal forbid the state from implementing such a fee.
ST. PAUL -- Governments soon will be restricted from taking private land if Gov. Tim Pawlenty signs eminent domain changes as expected. The House and Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Monday to make sure governments, especially cities, cannot take private land and sell it to private developers. On a 56-9 vote, with mostly urban Democrats against it, senators gave final approval to the bill. The House voted 115-17, with Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the only rural lawmaker opposing it.
ST. PAUL -- Stadium wars begin in earnest today as legislative negotiators sit down to work out a professional sports facilities construction plan. As the serious talks begin, the Vikings were going back to the drawing board on their stadium proposal. Also, a parliamentary glitch left a University of Minnesota football stadium in limbo. The sponsor of the House Twins baseball park bill, Rep. Brad Finstad, said he planned to stand firm against several provisions in a Senate-passed stadium bill.
ST. PAUL -- Key legislators agreed on public works spending Wednesday, an important step before lawmakers can finish for the year next week. Behind-the-scenes negotiations on other major issues, such as constructing stadiums, also were reported to be progressing well. "We are still poised to finish early," Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, told Mary Lahammer on Twin Cities Public Television's "Almanac: At the Capitol." Ironically, Johnson and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, were together on the show for one of the few times in recent days.
ST. PAUL -- Stadium construction proposals worth $1.2 billion Minnesota Senate won votes Tuesday, but don't plan any tailgating parties at new stadiums just yet. In a mostly partisan debate, senators approved building a University of Minnesota football stadium on campus, then passed a second bill authorizing new a Twins ballpark and Vikings stadium. Each bill passed 34-32; Democrats mostly favored it, with Republicans against. The two sides didn't agree on how the votes affect the future of stadium legislation. "They wanted to kill the Twins and I think they did it," Sen.
ST. PAUL - Deep divisions over abortions delayed part of the Minnesota Senate's budget. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party senators could not produce enough votes to turn back a proposal to ban all state-funded abortions Monday night, so the party's leaders pulled the health and human services budget provisions until they can round up enough votes to pass it.
ST. PAUL -- About the only people in the Minnesota Capitol today will be tourists and tour guides; there will be none of the hectic to-and-fro weekend activity that generally comes when two weeks remain in the legislative session. Next week has to be different or little will be accomplished in 2006. "We're kind of in crunch-time, guys," House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said Friday. "We ought to be here negotiating today." Instead, Gov.
ST. PAUL -- A provision prohibiting any state money going for abortions on Thursday helped to jam a Democratic Senate budget bill. The Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life wants a two-page amendment that bans the state from paying for any abortions, Sen.