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 - The Minnesota Legislature sent Gov.
ST. PAUL - Three weeks remain in the 2007 Minnesota legislative session, and lawmakers involved in budget negotiations are beginning to find out how much they can spend. Legislative leaders said on Monday that means some of the smaller budget bills soon will head to Gov. Tim Pawlenty for his approval - which they predict - but bills big and small appear to face problems once they reach the governor's desk. The House and Senate have passed their major budget and tax bills, with conference committees now sitting down to work out differences between the two chambers.
Senators gave preliminary approval, on a 43-21 vote, Monday to a bill providing expanded rights for partners of gay Minnesotans. The measure, opposed mostly by Republicans, would give people the right to visit their domestic partners while in the hospital if the sick or injured person cannot communicate. If a person can communicate when admitted to a hospital, he can designate a domestic partner who will "have the status of the patient's next of kin."
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota voters send 201 lawmakers to St. Paul, expecting each to have a voice in how their tax money is spent, and whether to enact laws affecting them. But the spotlight now shines on about half of them, with a far brighter spotlight pointed at two lawmakers and the governor. Welcome to conference committee season in the Minnesota Legislature, a time when on the surface it appears a few lawmakers make decisions about how to spend what could be $35 billion over the next two years. It is a mysterious, controversial and often maligned process that few Minnesotans understand.
House Republicans failed 83-51 Wednesday in an attempt to pass Gov. Tim Pawlenty's tax proposals. The debate set up a long one for Friday, when the full House is expected to approve raising income taxes on the richest Minnesotans to provide property tax relief. Pawlenty frequently has said he will veto a bill raising income taxes. Democrats claim his proposals would force up local property taxes. "Do you want to vote for huge property tax increases today or do you want to wait until Friday to vote for significant property tax cuts?" asked Rep.
The DFL-led Senate showed support Wednesday for a measure outlining the University of Minnesota's ability to use state funding for human embryonic and adult stem cell research. The bill drew preliminary approval from 36 senators, who said stem cell research is a critical tool for the university. Twenty-six senators, mostly Republicans, voted no. "Not everything should be sacrificed on the altar of research," Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said. Republican Gov.
Minnesotans with urgent needs for a restroom would be allowed to use businesses' private facilities under a Senate-passed bill. Senators gave 52-10 preliminary approval to the "restroom access act," requiring businesses to make their restrooms available to patients of Crohn's disease, colitis, other bowel problems and medical conditions requiring immediate access to a restroom facility. A similar bill awaits a House committee vote. The bill would prevent "embarrassing accidents," bill author Sen.
ST. PAUL - A plan dedicating funding to outdoors and arts programs came to a screeching halt in a Minnesota Senate committee Tuesday while it got a start in the House. The mixed message left in question the future of the bill amending the state Constitution to raise the sales tax state sales tax 0.375 percent for outdoors, clean-water and arts programs.
ST. PAUL - House Democrats support retaining Minnesota's main rural economic development program and even would start a similar one aimed at farmers. A Democratic-Farmer-Laborite proposal keeps the Job Opportunity Building Zones mostly intact, except for a provision designed to stop businesses from moving from one Minnesota community to another. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty wanted to extend JOBZ, which gives expanding and new rural businesses a variety of tax breaks. Senators voted to kill the program. The House bill introduces a new program, FARMZ, that Rep.