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 may continue collecting a 75-cent-a-pack cigarette fee after the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday refused to hear a case brought to overturn the charge. "The U.S. Supreme Court's decision was expected and proper," Gov. Tim Pawlenty's spokesman, Brian McClung, said in a terse statement. "In legal terms: case closed." A Minnesota court had overturned the fee, but the Minnesota Supreme Court last year reversed that decision and put the fee back on the books.
A large majority of Minnesotans are happy with the work of school instructors and staff, but believe more state funding is needed to maintain that level of quality, a teacher-funded poll found. Education Minnesota, the state's largest teachers union, commissioned the phone survey last November. It also revealed that 62 percent of respondents believe school spending should be increased. One-third of those polled said funding should remain flat. Education Minnesota President Judy Schaubach of Red Wing said poll results reinforce public comments made at listening sessions across the state.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota children younger than 8 must be buckled in a booster seat or other restraint if a preliminarily Senate-passed bill becomes law. Senators initially approved the proposal on a voice vote Monday, with final approval expected Thursday. Current law requires children younger than 4 to be in a child's seat. Booster and other safety seats save injuries and money, supporters said. "The No. 1 killer of children over the age of 3 is automobile crashes," Rep. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan, said. Rep.
Minnesotans, many in rural areas, missed out on $172 million in federal food stamp funds last year because they lack knowledge about the program and face a complicated application process, a new report claims. "The worst participation is in our rural areas and rural counties," said Jessica Webster of the Legal Services Advocacy Project.
Minnesota legislators anticipate a stern lecture when they sit down Tuesday with a leading congressional transportation expert. U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, who represents northeastern Minnesota's 8th District and is House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman, will discuss funding for roads and transit with state legislators. Such meetings are rare. "I think he's going to give us hell," Rep. Bernie Lieder, DFL-Crookston, said.
Many rural Minnesotans would have better health care, U.S. Sen.
ST. PAUL - A late 2005 report showed Minnesota state computers were vulnerable to hackers. The auditor suggested the state give those who manage the computers more money. Those words did not fall on deaf ears. When state officials began an every-other-year budget process last year, the topic returned. Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Rep. Tom Rukavina walked through the crowd during a Sept. 11, 2001, memorial service and noticed most of the flags were made in China, Pakistan or someplace else other than the United States. "If anything should be made in the United States, it should be the American flag," he said. So began the Virginia, Minn., Democrat's quest to require all American flags sold in Minnesota to be made in this country.
ST. PAUL - Legislators are close to making Minnesota the first state to endorse a compact to restrict use of Great Lakes water. On a voice vote, senators gave preliminary approval to the issue Monday, with a final vote expected Thursday. The House already overwhelmingly approved the compact and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to sign the measure.
A statewide smoking ban could be headed for approval by the Legislature, but it won't get everyone's backing. "I highly doubt many (Iron) Rangers will be supporting the final bill," House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said. Sertich was referring to his fellow Iron Range lawmakers, who may support a smoking ban that provides exemptions, such as for bars or private clubs. Bills being considered by the House and Senate don't include those exemptions. Sertich said he believes a statewide ban in public places will pass this year.