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.
- Member for
- 4 years 4 months
ST. PAUL—Nearly two years into a Minnesota law requiring plant buffers between cropland and water, some farmers remain furious. They say the 2015 buffer law violates the U.S. Constitution provision saying no "private property (can) be taken for public use without just compensation," that buffers take too much land out of crops and lower its value, that discussion about options to planting 50-foot buffers is starting too late and that farmers know what is best for their own land. In other words, arguments made against the law two years ago remain alive.
ST. PAUL—The Minnesota House Taxes Committee chairman is tired of dealing with Wisconsin about income taxes. So Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, drew up a provision he plans to insert into his tax bill this year that would reimburse Minnesotans who pay higher taxes working in Wisconsin than if they worked in Minnesota. For decades, the states had an agreement that made tax time simpler—and in many cases cheaper—for people living in one state and working in the other, but efforts to reinstate that have failed.
ST. PAUL—Rural Minnesota may never have been mentioned so often in a state Senate debate not about a specific rural issue. Small towns and farmers were featured Thursday, Jan. 12, before senators passed 35-31 legislation to help Minnesotans afford individual health insurance policies. Rural residents like farmers tend to rely on individual policies more than do those living in cities.
ST. PAUL — Jose Sanchez says his immigrant community fears living without driver's licenses. "Our community needs licenses to get around, to get to work, to get to school," he told a Minnesota House committee Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. "I ask that you listen to us and deal with your heart," he pleaded before the Republican-controlled committee voted 8-6 along party lines to keep in a provision that would enact a law banning immigrants to the United States without legal documentation from getting a license.
ST. PAUL — The University of Minnesota's request to bump up its state funding $147 million comes at a tough time. The big university news over the past few weeks has been a football scandal, easily topping the team's Holiday Bowl victory. With that fresh in Minnesotans' minds, university officials are hitting up the Legislature for more money. "It doesn't help," said Jennifer Schultz, a Duluth legislator and University of Minnesota Duluth professor. "Timing wise, it is really bad to get when these fires happen. And we have really had a lot of fires."
ST. PAUL—A tweaked 2016 tax proposal that never made it into law is back. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said on Thursday, Jan. 5, that his plan calls for $230 million in a variety of tax cuts and $70 million in new spending for things such as increased state aid to local governments. It is based on a bill most legislators backed last year, but Dayton opted not to sign after a $101 million mistake was discovered in it.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is bringing back a public works funding bill much like he offered last year, proposing to spend $1.5 billion on projects ranging from water treatment plants to fixing college buildings. "These projects have a direct economic benefit," the governor told reporters in a conference call Wednesday, Jan. 4.
ST. PAUL—Minnesota let out a sigh of relief Tuesday, Jan. 3, after a federal appeals court decided a lower court erred in tossing out a state law that put some of the worst sex offenders in prison-like facilities after they complete their sentences. Had the original ruling stood, the state would have scrambled to release many of the 700 sex offenders now confined in state hospitals.
ST. PAUL — 2017 dawned on the Minnesota Capitol with bright sun Sunday, Jan. 1, illuminating the newly renovated building. But the sparkle dimmed as clouds moved in Sunday, followed by a dreary, wintry Monday for most Minnesotans. Was that a forecast of things to come in the 2017 state Legislature, which begins at noon Tuesday? That is impossible to predict, but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republicans who control the Legislature have a stormy past.
ST. PAUL—Several legislators say that state-run college and university needs must be funded. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, who becomes minority leader in the 2017 session, told a recent Forum News Service forum that it is easy to keep state higher education funding down because the schools pick up the shortfall by increasing tuition. But that hurts higher education, he added. Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, said more money is needed, but will be tough to find since Republicans who control the Legislature do not want to raise taxes.