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
- 2 years 2 months
ST. PAUL -- Along with Sen. Jim Vickerman's more powerful committee chairmanship in the Minnesota Senate came a set of instructions: "Have your bags packed." Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, is chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Budget and Policy Committee, which first meets this week. He used to be in charge of only the policy discussion, but money is where the power is, so his influence dramatically increased in Minnesota's farm country this year when the panel took over budget duties, too. And that influence may extend beyond the Minnesota state line.
ST. PAUL -- Insuring all children is Minnesota House Democrats' top priority this year, followed by making all-day, every-day kindergarten available statewide. No.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans won't know for a while how much their property tax bills could be cut, but some legislators declared on the second day of their 2007 session that relief will come. Senate and House tax leaders are working on bills to increase state payments to schools, cities and counties with the theory that it would cut property taxes they collect from Minnesotans. "I think it is safe to say that property tax relief is on the way," said Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he will take the oath of office for his second term as Minnesota governor Tuesday -- re-energized and recommitted. "The overwhelming feeling I have is one of gratitude," he said in an interview. The Republican governor said his inaugural speech will be a general overview of his second two-year term, one of several major speeches in four weeks.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators considered 8,045 bills in their last two-year session. Keeping up is a daunting task for a lawmaker, with staff to help out, but it is even more difficult for the average citizen. But with a little patience -- and the Internet -- it is possible. "If people take the time, it is all out there," said Scott Magnuson, who heads the Minnesota Senate information office. Lawmakers report that in rural Minnesota, especially, constituents follow legislative activity.
ST. PAUL -- Stand next to an electric power transmission line and you hear a buzz. That's a lot like the buzz being heard in the ramp-up to the 2007 Minnesota legislative session. Instead of the static that often accompanies big issues, there seems to be a synergy about energy. "He has given us a lot of good starting points," Democratic House Energy Committee Chairman Bill Hilty said about Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
ST. PAUL -- If taxes need to rise to provide more nursing home funding, so be it, a northwestern Minnesota lawmaker says. "We may need to call for a revenue increase," Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, said.
ST. PAUL -- One of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's former legislative colleagues is his new natural resources commissioner. Mark Holsten, a Stillwater resident and University of Minnesota-Duluth graduate, served in the Minnesota House 10 years before becoming the No. 2 official in the Department of Natural Resources nearly four years ago. He replaces Gene Merriam, whose resignation was announced Dec.
ST. PAUL -- U.S. Sen.-elect Amy Klobuchar got to know Tim Johnson well while she campaigned for office. The South Dakota Democrat, who underwent brain surgery late Wednesday and early Thursday, appeared on the Klobuchar campaign trail now and then before she was elected last month. Johnson is a senator who "cares about his state first. ... He stands up for rural America," said Klobuchar, who takes office early next month. Klobuchar and Minnesota's two senators would not talk on Thursday about political ramifications of Johnson's medical condition.