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 - Smokers would be banned from all public Minnesota workplaces other than well ventilated outdoor patios under a Senate-passed bill. Minnesota senators voted 41-24 Tuesday for a strict smoking ban, turning back several efforts to weaken it. The House version of the measure awaits action in a committee with a chairman opposed to the measure. Long-time anti-smoking advocate Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, said the Senate vote is a victory. "My main thing is trying to change the culture," he said. "This legislation will discourage smoking in this state.
ST. PAUL - Republican Minnesota senators know what it is like to be the minority since they perennially field fewer members than Democrats. With that comes complaints, and last week those complaints were louder than usual. Senators engaged in a protracted Thursday debate about a resolution requiring any attempts to amend bills on the Senate floor to stay within spending in the original bill.
Minnesota state employees who were forced to use their vacation time during a July 2005 partial government shutdown would be paid in full under a bill Minnesota lawmakers are considering. A House committee approved the payments, and a similar bill awaits Senate consideration. Many state employees were sent home in 2005 after lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty could not agree on a new budget.
A rural Minnesota high school for students addicted to alcohol or drugs needs state help to continue, Sen. Steve Dille told legislators Friday. The Libre Academy in Litchfield needs $60,000 to get through the school year, Dille told the Senate Finance Committee as it debated an education funding bill. "They're basically short of money," Dille, R-Dassel, said in asking for $25,000 for Libre Academy.
ST. PAUL - The Minnesota legislative pace picked up in recent days, so much so that it felt more like the frenzied end of session. Senators face an April 2 deadline for approving all of their spending bills. Representatives must pass their spending bills out of finance committees by then, and finish all work on finance bills in April.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota senators voted to increase higher education spending Thursday, but complained it was not enough to prevent tuition increases or to launch any significant new programs. The measure ups spending $296 million for the next two years, leaving a higher education budget of $3.1 billion. "Personally I am very dissatisfied with it," Higher Education Chairwoman Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said. "All we could do is fund a status quo budget." It is a comment expected on the Senate floor often through April 2, when senators are supposed to have their spending bills finished.
ST. PAUL - Two waitresses illustrate Minnesotans' differences over a statewide smoking ban plan advancing through the Minnesota Legislature. "I believe that all of us in the state of Minnesota - workers, businesses and public - ultimately are going to win on this issue," Duluth's Joan Linski said if the smoking ban passes, as it appears it will. That is not how Bierstube worker Mary Yoswa of Hastings sees the matter.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota leaders want to know if South Dakota actions - or inactions - 20 years ago contributed to last week's Browns Valley flood. Attorney General Lori Swanson's spokesman said that office will investigate questions Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Roger Urban thought he was stupid upon discovering he failed to file for a property tax refund. Then he found out there are 350,000 Minnesotans like him because they also did not know about the refund.