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
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ST. PAUL -- It's better a little late than never for the Minnesota Legislature. After a 2005 session that stretched two months too long, and resulted in a partial government shutdown, lawmakers headed home for the year Sunday night when they finished an unexpected brief final meeting and heard speeches from retiring members. The concluding meeting was the first time the Senate has met on a Sunday and only the second time for the House. Leaders had planned to end work by 7 a.m. Sunday, which state law considers the end of the legislative Saturday.
ST. PAUL -- Legislators have spent their time since adjourning for the year patting themselves on the back after a marathon Saturday-Sunday session. Was it a successful legislative session? "Extremely so," said Senate Majority leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar.
ST. PAUL - Negotiators got down to business on priority legislation Thursday as Minnesota lawmakers look to go home for the year this weekend. The most progress came after Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders spent much of Thursday afternoon and evening negotiating behind closed doors. They emerged after 11 p.m. having reached agreement on two key issues. The Republican governor and top lawmakers agreed to split $405 million in available funds between new spending and tax relief.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House for the second time voted Wednesday to ban devices that dispense alcoholic mists, an attempt to make sure the prohibition makes it into law as time runs out for the 2006 legislative session. The "alcohol without liquid" device ban was part of a broader public safety measure that also gave law enforcement officers more authority to notify the public when a sex offender moves in from out of state. The debate came as legislators face a practical 7 a.m. Sunday deadline to adjourn for the year.
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 -- Minnesota legislators have done an about-face and now want to make sure highway construction projects receive a guaranteed portion of a new funding source. A proposed constitutional amendment to dedicate all of the state motor vehicle sales tax to transportation, passed last year by lawmakers, could have allowed all or most of the money to be used for transit.
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.