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 - Two books that tell Minnesotans more about their state than they ever knew are available - and for free. The secretary of state's office introduced the new Minnesota Legislative Manual, better known as the Blue Book, and its student edition version.
ST. PAUL - Rural Minnesota will lose money due to a lack of a significant transportation funding bill this year, Alexandria's mayor says. "The shift in resources from rural to metro that has been evidenced over the past few years will accelerate without the influx of funds promised in the transportation bill," Mayor Dan Ness wrote on behalf of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. "That bill provided revenue to fix highways, streets and roads throughout the state.
ST. PAUL - Minnesotans' property tax bills will continue to rise, probably for two years, after a gubernatorial tax bill veto. "We missed a chance to provide some property tax relief," Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said.
ST. PAUL - On a sunny day last August, House Democrats told reporters gathered at the Minnesota State Fair their top three issues in the 2007 legislative session would be health care, education and property tax relief. Senate Democrats later embraced those three priorities, while adding more of their own. But if success is defined as getting priorities passed into law, they didn't fare well. The House and Senate each passed bills doing what Democrats wanted, but pending Republican Gov.
Federal legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar would provide grants to install more E-85 pump across the country. The Minnesota Democrat joined other farm-state senators in an effort to expand use of the ethanol-based fuel, which now mostly is made from corn. "With gas prices up over $3 a gallon and oil companies raking in record profits, its time to move forward with homegrown energy," Klobuchar said. "E-85 and other renewable fuels mean jobs for our country and cheaper fuel for our cars.
ST. PAUL - A politician he's not. Peter Agre is considering running for the Minnesota U.S. Senate seat next year. But it appears he has not contacted Minnesota news outlets to let the public know. Other than a couple of mentions, the Democrat has received little Minnesota attention. However, CQPolitics.com, USA Today and other national news media have heard from him. Agre, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, does not sound overly confident. "If you talk about a dark horse, I'm the jet-black Shetland pony that's four miles behind everybody," he told The Associated Press.
It seems as if nothing is easy for Minnesota legislators, who often argue over tiny details. But Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, said that supporting veterans' issues was an easy vote in 2007. "Making sure support was in place for the close to 3,000 military personnel that will be returning to Minnesota from Iraq and Afghanistan was a priority for DFL members this session," Juhnke said.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota legislators cobbled together the largest budget in history before leaving town this week, but two of the most noticed things may come out of their failures. For instance, potholes and highway congestion may grow after Gov. Tim Pawlenty and lawmakers could not agree on a transportation funding bill. Also, homeowners' property taxes may rise if Pawlenty vetoes a tax bill as expected; even if he signs it, many property tax bills will be higher because lawmakers scaled back a plan to actually cut property taxes. After working from noon Jan. 3 until 12:03 a.m.
ST. PAUL - The western Minnesota community of Browns Valley is due $2 million to help it recover from March flooding. Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday signed a bill giving Browns Valley money for public and private recovery. Besides the $2 million, an education funding bill includes a provision keeping the local school district's funding at pre-flood levels, even if it loses students because families move away.