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 - A Minnesota state commission provided a key approval Wednesday to a northern Minnesota oil pipeline expansion as chants of "shame on you" rang out in the downtown St. Paul meeting room. "We are the people you represent," one of more than 100 protesters shouted as all five Public Utilities Commission members approved increasing the pipeline's capacity after a brief discussion of the pipeline issue with no chance for public testimony.
ST. PAUL - Sen. Amy Klobuchar is among sponsors of a bill written to make it easier to prosecute cases involving the sale of synthetic drugs. The Minnesota Democrat said that synthetic drug ingredients change slightly whenever a synthetic drug becomes illegal, and the process to make the new one illegal must begin from scratch.
The future of federal farm programs is uncertain, at best, after a sharply divided House on Thursday passed a stripped-down farm bill on its second try.
A sharply divided U.S. House passed a farm bill 216-208 today amid complaints that it is the first time federal farm programs have become embroiled in partisan politics.
Trying to control dangerous synthetic drugs is a lot like playing the old carnival game whack-a-mole.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota businesses would benefit if a U.S. Senate-passed immigration reform law becomes law, U.S. Sen. Al Franken and other bill supporters say. "It fixes our broken immigration system," the Democratic Minnesota senator said. The bill would provide a pathway for illegal immigrants to become American citizens, which in many cases could take 13 years. About 85,000 undocumented immigrants live in Minnesota.
ST. PAUL -- Pay attention to the Minnesota state budget: There will be a test. The test comes Nov. 4, 2014, the next general election. That is when voters decide whether to retain Democratic control of the House and governor's office, or to give Republicans another chance. (Senate seats are not on the ballot until 2016.) Signs are that the 2014 vote will be a contest between the Republican budget of the past two years and a newly enacted Democratic budget that ends in 2015.
ST. PAUL -- Some Minnesota businesses are pushing the pause button on constructing new facilities, awaiting word about whether state legislators will allow a new tax to be collected. A $20 million Red Wing Shoes distribution center is on hold "until we find out what happens," John Sachen of the company said Thursday during a state Capitol news conference. "We have already stopped business," said Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing. "That's jobs."
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota same-sex couples who can wed beginning in a little more than a month will receive the same benefits as other married couples after the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled unconstitutional a federal law that did not recognize gay marriage. Among the most important of those benefits is allowing same-sex couples file joint income tax returns to receive a lower tax rate and Social Security to be collected based on a spouse's income, Executive Director Chuck Samuelson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said.
U.S. House agriculture leaders will try, try again to pass a five-year farm bill. "It's been four years and we are not going to give up now," U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said Thursday after the House defeated on a 234-195 vote a bill setting federal agriculture and nutrition policy for five years.