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 -- More than 160 Minnesota bridges will be replaced or renovated under a 10-year program announced Monday, with money coming from increased gasoline taxes and other fees lawmakers imposed earlier this year. Eleven major bridge replacements could take up to three-fourths of the $2.5 billion slated for bridge replacements and renovations, new state Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel told a joint House-Senate transportation committee meeting Monday.
ROCHESTER, Minn. - Al Franken's apology for writing objectionable jokes and book passages that upset many fellow Democrats appeared to be well accepted. But an undercurrent of concern remained. "They don't like distractions," Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, said of his constituents.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Education could help dissipate concern about lead in venison meat, officials of seven Midwest states decided Wednesday. Deer hunters could be educated about how to best shoot deer, how to field dress the carcass and what kinds of bullets to use. Meat processors could be shown how to remove potentially dangerous lead and shown that ground meat could pose more of a hazard than other cuts. The public can learn how to spot lead in meat and discover ways to avoid lead poisoning problems.
ST. PAUL -- The mood at the Minnesota Capitol is considerably lighter now that the 2008 legislative session is history. Two of the Capitol's most vocal antagonists stood together the other day, united in supporting a public works funding bill -- and laughing together. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, often do not have kind words for each other.
ST. PAUL -- The corn industry is trying to counter those who blame ethanol for inflating consumer prices. Corn growers say they are responsible for gasoline prices staying much lower than they would have without ethanol. "A dark, oily cloud hangs over motorists' travel plans this Memorial Day weekend as the cost of oil and gasoline hit record highs," a Minnesota Corn Growers Association statement distributed Friday said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty use terms like "significant" when talking about property tax changes enacted in the recently adjourned legislative session. Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Taxes Committee, said that of all legislation in 2008, he is most proud of the property tax changes. But the politicians usually don't finish the story. Rep.
ST. PAUL - Legislative negotiators declared Friday evening they have all but settled outstanding issues remaining in the 2008 session that must end by Monday. "We are very nearly done," House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said. "We are very, very close." Republican and Democratic leaders said they would resume talks with GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 8:45 p.m. and a final deal could come early today. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St.
ST. PAUL - The goal for high-level legislative negotiations today is simple - make progress. "We were stuck in a rut," House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said en route to today's first round of talks early this afternoon. Legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Pawlenty met briefly on health-care issues, then recessed to prepare for a mid-afternoon meeting. Negotiators are trying to work out details of several major issues so the session can be wrapped up smoothly.