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
- 3 years 7 months
ST. PAUL -- Republicans in charge of the Minnesota House and Senate join with Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Rural and urban state representatives fought over parks and trails money during their first Saturday session of 2011. Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, accused Twin Cities lawmakers of being "extra greedy." Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, fired back that the urban and suburban area provides the state's economic basis, but is "getting the shaft" when it comes to money returning to her area.
ST. PAUL -- Republicans supported expanding the right to use deadly force during rare Saturday night debate, but opponents claimed the bill could create Minnesota murderers who could not be prosecuted. The bill passed 79-50, with some rural Democrats joining Republicans voting "yes." "If you murder somebody, you have more protections under this than if you shoot a bear or shoot somebody's property," Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis, said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota House members did not get a chance to vote on whether they want alcohol to be sold on Sundays. An amendment to a bill was dropped Tuesday before a vote. However, there was a debate on the issue, with Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, saying Minnesotans are crossing over to other states to buy alcohol on Sundays. "We are exporting our business to those states," Drazkowski said. "We do have to find a way for our businesses to engage on commerce on Sunday." Rep.
ST. PAUL -- It appears none of Minnesota's U.S. House members would compete against each other in a Republican-controlled state House's attempt to redraw congressional lines, which creates a massive district across northern Minnesota. The new 8th Congressional District would stretch from Moorhead to Cloquet, with the line dipping south to cut Mille Lacs Lake in half. It would encompass 23 counties, including Becker, where U.S. Rep.
ST. PAUL -- County officials say state government too often ties their hands, which costs taxpayers. "Allow those who are working in the trenches to share ideas," Beltrami County Administrator Tony Murphy requested in a recent Senate committee meeting. Those ideas may not always match state bureaucrats' ideas of how things should be done, but they may be better, he said. Granting permission to use innovative ways to do county business is why Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Some present the controversial plan to add casinos to the state's two horse-racing tracks as a rural vs. urban issue. Others say they like the idea of giving the state more money, but do not want to expand gambling. It is an issue that has been around the Minnesota Legislature about 15 years and at this point appears to again lack enough votes to pass. However, that could change in coming weeks as the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Freshman Rep. John Kriesel of Cottage Grove and a southwestern Minnesota farmer, two unlikely supporters, are leading a legislative effort to allow a downtown Minneapolis casino. Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, and Kriesel, also Republican, said the entire state would benefit from a Minneapolis casino near where the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Timberwolves play. The Magnus-Kriesel plan, which needs legislative approval, adds to an already-crowded gambling plate.
ST. PAUL -- One of the most significant, and least noticed, jobs of the Minnesota Legislature is drawing up new legislative district lines, and it drew sparks Tuesday night. After about 30 Minnesotans told the House Redistricting Committee their thoughts of a House Republican proposal, Democrats complained that the 24 hours since the plan was released was too little time to consider it. And they said Republicans ignored the testimony. "You had no intent of producing a bipartisan plan," Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, told committee Chairwoman Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Republicans hope to cut 15 percent of state government jobs, nearly 5,000 positions, by 2015 in an effort to save $369 million in the next two-year budget and $696 million in the next budget. In a Monday meeting, Democrats said that state workers should not be punished. However, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said he sees things differently. "The workers of this state are not the problem," Lanning told the House Ways and Means Committee Monday. "The problem is the deficit." A bill by Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina, was the basis for the Monday's debate.