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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The Senate gave final approval Monday to its plan to balance the state's $935 million budget deficit. The bill makes spending cuts of between 3 percent and 4 percent to most state agencies and uses budget reserves and available cash. Senate Finance Chairman Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, said, while unpleasant, the bill is needed to erase the deficit. Senators voted 40-25 for the bill, which does not fund some of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's priorities. "It's kind of a poke in the eye to the governor," said Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan.
Minnesota county boards must hold a public meeting before appointing someone to fill a commissioner vacancy, senators decided Monday. The Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill by Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, requiring more public input before a county commissioner appointment. The bill also says a special election must be held if a vacancy occurs more than a year before the next county general election.
ST. PAUL - Most state agencies would cut budgets 3 percent to 4 percent, money would be moved from fund to another and budget reserves would fall as Minnesota legislators try to balance the state budget. The House and Senate debated different, but similar, bills Thursday to fill a projected $935 million state budget deficit.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's Democratic-led Legislature is ready to send Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty a public works funding bill he doesn't like, setting the stage for a possible veto and a new attempt to fund projects ranging from college buildings to passenger rail lines. Legislative leaders plan votes in the full House and Senate today on borrowing $925 million for state construction projects, $100 million more than Pawlenty wants.
ST. PAUL - Today is supposed to be the day when House and Senate negotiators approve a public works funding bill and send it to the full House and Senate for approval. Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, on Monday said everything is ready in the bill other than how much to spend - if anything - on buying land for a new state park along Lake Vermilion in northeastern Minnesota.
ST. PAUL - The meat of the 2008 Minnesota Legislature will be debated in the next few days. The main reason for lawmakers being in session this year, funding public works projects across Minnesota, appears to be nearing votes in the full House and Senate. And a tougher task, filling a $935 million budget hole, also should receive votes. But work remains on both issues, especially with legislative leaders and Gov.
A plan to make ice hockey Minnesota's official state sport was tucked into an education budget bill that went before the Senate Finance Committee Friday. If put into law, ice hockey would join state symbols such as the blueberry muffin and Honeycrisp apple. Education budget Chairman LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, said the issue ended up in Senate education committees because the idea came from students. It also was included in an education policy bill. "It's government by action of children in school," Stumpf joked.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's Vietnam War veterans returned to a cold shoulder, but state leaders say that now will change. "The fact that the country did not welcome them home is shameful," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Thursday afternoon before signing into law a bill setting aside March 29 as Vietnam Veterans' Day. Bill authors Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, and Sen.
ST. PAUL - A bill written by the House tax leader eliminating all state aid to business includes killing rural Minnesota's Job Opportunity Building Zones program. Although Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's pet JOBZ project is a small part of a bill that would raise $280 million, the proposal drew the strongest response to her surprise Wednesday proposal. "The bottom line is that the program has helped rural Minnesota," Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth said.