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 — Tens of thousands of Minnesota state workers will get a raise after the House and Senate approved negotiated contracts. Senators voted 56-10 Monday, May 26, to bump up pay for more than 30,000 workers by 2 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The House followed a few hours later with a 93-33 vote. About half of workers are eligible for other increases, too, Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said. The raises will not increase taxes, Sen. Erik Simonson, D-Duluth, said because the added pay would come out of existing budgets.
ST. PAUL — Many Minnesota government pension plans are paying out more than they are taking in. State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, says that is troubling. Her colleagues agreed Monday, March 26, when they unanimously approved her bill that increases funding going into the pension plans and slightly cuts some benefits. While senators were together on the issue, the pension bill has not received a House committee hearing. Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend $27 million to help shore up public pensions.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton seldom says he would veto a bill, but if it reaches his desk he promises to veto House-passed legislation to get the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System running smoothly. The measure representatives passed late Monday afternoon would take money from other agencies to fix the Public Safety Department program. Dayton said on Tuesday, March 20, that he refuses to let lawmakers "cannibalize" other departments' budgets to fix MNLARS.
ST. PAUL—A fix for the troubled Minnesota License and Registration System that has frustrated thousands of vehicle owners may be close. The state Senate and House Monday, March 19, passed differing versions of legislation to pump $10 million into efforts to improve the MNLARS computer software system. A House-Senate conference committee is expected to work out the differences between the two bills, perhaps this week.
ST. PAUL—Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took a major step forward to run for his old job on Monday, March 19, in announcing he filed campaign committee paperwork. That makes it all but certain the Republican is seeking the governor's office again. A written announcement he distributed, while refusing media interviews, follows a series of speeches in Minnesota that made it sound like he was running.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton suggests some tax cuts and some increases, lots more spending for some programs, a little more for others, no more for much of state government. Republicans disagree with much of what he proposes. However, they agreed with one thing the Democratic governor said: "I will warn you in advance, this is complicated." Dayton unveiled his proposed changes to the state's current two-year, $46 billion budget on Friday, March 16. His plan now goes to the Republican-controlled Legislature, where much of it will face opposition.
ST. PAUL — Gary Haugen has lost his attempt to overturn a decades-old decision that forces him to install vegetative buffers. The lawsuit, recently decided by the Minnesota Appeals Court, technically dealt with whether an unnamed streambed is public — and, thus, required to have buffers along it — or a private water course. Appeals judges ruled, like a district judge did earlier, that the 1980 Department of Natural Resources decision that it is public stands.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he and the Legislature should try to work together like they did in restoring the Capitol building. In his final State of the State speech Wednesday, March 14, the Democratic governor looked back at his two terms in office and ahead to tasks remaining during his final 299 days on the job.
ST. PAUL—Democrats and Republicans are getting together to bolster Minnesota's response to serious lapses in care delivered to senior citizens. State legislation to be considered soon was written to improve care already regulated by the state and to require assisted-living and dementia care facilities be licensed. Gov. Mark Dayton said he will ask legislators to appropriate nearly $15 million to make improvements in the rest of the current two-year budget; then, $25 million would be needed in the following two years.
ST. PAUL — The most bipartisan Minnesota gun safety bills offered so far this year were all but shot down as soon as they were introduced. Two Democrats and two Republicans on Monday, March 12, told reporters about a pair of bills — one requiring background checks on almost all gun buyers and a second making it mandatory to report lost or stolen firearms — they hope get through in a Legislature with a strong divide between the two political parties. Leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate made it clear the two bills are very unlikely to be considered.