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 - 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.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators joined the House on Thursday night in voting to eliminate a law requiring students to pass a test before graduating high school. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor education bill, spending nearly $15.7 billion in the next two years, passed 35-28 after Republicans refused to vote for 10 minutes when Senate President Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, did not call on two GOP members seeking to speak.
ST. PAUL - Republican lawmakers said an environment and agriculture budget bill the House approved 69-61 Thursday is loaded with too-high fees and wasteful spending. "This agriculture and environment finance proposal is loaded with staggering fee increases that will impact hardworking taxpayers in every income bracket," said Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings. Bill author Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators voted themselves and other state officials pay raises Tuesday with no debate. The only mention of the raises, part of a larger bill funding several state agencies, in the Senate came when bill sponsor Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, quickly described the bill. He did not provide specifics. When the vote came late in the afternoon, two big voting boards in the Senate chamber showed it failing by a single vote, then tied 33-33. After several minutes at 33-33, Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, changed from a "no" vote to "yes," and acting President Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Two Minnesota lawmakers are offering legislation to prevent Sanford Health from controlling University of Minnesota hospitals. Sanford, headquartered in South Dakota and North Dakota, is looking at taking over Fairview Health Services, which operates the university hospital system. "If we need to pass legislation to protect our University of Minnesota hospitals, then that is absolutely what we should do," Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, said Monday.
ST. PAUL -- New tests showing Asian carp likely are not colonizing Minnesota waters should not slow efforts to stop the invasive fish, experts say. "The results certainly don't say we should be doing anything different than we are right now," said Steve Hirsch of the Department of Natural Resources. Hirsch and other Asian carp experts reacted to Thursday's release of a study that found no indication that many of the carp are in Minnesota's Mississippi and St.
One south Washington County-area Republican legislator supports civil unions as a step short of full marriage for gay couples, but a prominent local former GOP lawmaker said that doesn't go far enough. Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, joined a handful of other GOP House members and one Democrat Wednesday to propose civil union legislation that would give gay couples the same rights as married couples. Such a move is "supported by a vast majority of Minnesotans," Rep.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Legislature is famous for deciding major issues near the end of each year's session. Expect 2013 to be no different. So far, Gov. Mark Dayton has signed just one major bill into law, and eight minor ones, out of 3,172 that the 201 lawmakers have introduced. That means there will be a lot of public and private debate by the Legislature's constitutionally mandated May 20 adjournment date. "The budget will be the big push," said Sen.
Two Twin Cities schools' future rests in legislators' hands. A East Metro Integration District board governing Crosswinds school in Woodbury and Harambee in Maplewood decided to give away the facilities, but Minnesota Management and Budget has ruled that the only thing it can do without legislative approval is to sell the buildings.