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 -- Minnesota's gay community never has known such joy. That joy showed Tuesday night as American and rainbow flags flew in front of the state Capitol when Minnesota became the 12th state to embrace same-sex marriage. Minnesota gays and their supporters could not contain their enthusiasm during a 45-minute ceremony featuring Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Gay Minnesotans and their supporters rallied with tears of sadness rolling down their faces two years ago. Today, their faces are covered with tears of elation as the Minnesota Senate voted to allow them to marry. Senators voted 37-30 Monday to remove a state law that bans same-sex marriage. Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage, supported the bill. The vote followed a Thursday 75-59 House vote, leaving Gov. Mark Dayton's signature the only task remaining before gays can marry starting Aug. 1.
ST. PAUL -- Gay Minnesotans and their supporters streamed into the Minnesota Capitol today expecting to witness history. They sang "America" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and celebrated, anticipating senators to approve gay marriage this afternoon. Handfuls of same-sex marriage opponents kneeled in prayer at various spots around the Capitol. There was little doubt under the massive marble dome that senators would join state representatives who Thursday approved a bill overturning an existing law banning same-sex marriages. When that vote happens, the bill only needs Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota political leaders have spent months preparing state budget plans, and eight days before the Legislature must adjourn for the year they announced they have reached agreement on some tax and spend guidelines. Included in the budget framework is that the state would not raise sales taxes on consumer goods, such as clothing, but probably would add taxes businesses pay on sales to other businesses.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's Legislature is tough to comprehend. Just ask some freshmen Democratic senators who recently became confused as green "yes" and red "no" vote lights began flashing on giant tally boards on either side of the Senate chamber when their tax bill vote was being counted. Some Republican senators played games with rookies by pushing their green buttons, looking like they were voting in favor of the bill.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota is a vote and a signature away from becoming the 12th state to allow gay marriage. The House voted 75-59 today to eliminate an existing gay-marriage ban in state law. A Senate vote comes Monday and Gov. Mark Dayton says he will sign the bill. Even Republicans who oppose gay marriage say Senate support for the bill is even stronger than in the House. The vote caps years of attempts to allow same-sex marriages. "This is the right thing to do," said Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St.
ST. PAUL -- Anticipation. Frustration. Elation. Love. Anger. Patience. Impatience. Today's House vote on gay marriage attracted the range of emotion as Minnesotans began arriving at the Capitol this morning. A midday start was anticipated for debate on a bill that would allow same-sex marriages in the state. A last-minute compromise to clarify that clergy would not be forced to officiate at weddings of same-sex couples convinced supporters that the measure they have sought for years could be on the verge of becoming law. The largest crowd ever was possible inside the Capitol.
ST. PAUL -- Gay marriage supporters feel victory in the air. Their confidence is high as Minnesota state representatives plan to vote on overturning an existing same-sex marriage ban on Thursday, with senators following in a few days. "We've felt pretty good in the Senate for a long time," bill sponsor Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said after the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday passed his measure on a split voice vote. Even gay marriage opponent Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said the bill likely will pass the Senate.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House likely will approve a minimum wage increase later this week, after a committee Monday expanded the bill's reach by doubling state-required parental leave for a new child. Under the amended measure by Rep Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, employers would be required to grant 12-week leaves after a birth or adoption. The House Ways and Means Committee tacked the provision onto Winkler's bill that aims to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour in 2015 from today's $6.15.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota senators passed a tax plan 35-31 Monday -- eventually. It took two tries, but they moved the bill forward, nearly two hours after it initially failed 34-32 with seven Democrats voting no. The second vote set the stage for legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton to hammer out a final budget plan. The Senate tax bill, sponsored by Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, would raise income taxes on the top bracket. It also would lower the sales tax rate to 6 percent while expanding what is taxed to more items such as clothing, auto repairs and digital downloads.