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 -- 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.
ST. PAUL -- A proposal to build a new Vikings stadium is not ready for prime time, the Minnesota House speaker says. In a Friday meeting with reporters, House and Senate leaders repeatedly refused to back a proposal, or reject it, to build a professional football stadium funded in part by new sports-related taxes. Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said he told bill sponsor Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, that the effort needs a local government partner and a stadium location before it is ready for serious consideration. Lanning and Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Tens of thousands of poor, disabled and elderly Minnesotans could lose state-funded health care under a Republican bill senators approved as part of their efforts to balance the state budget. The bill, which passed 37-26 Wednesday night, cuts $1.8 billion from what had been expected to be spent on health and welfare programs. The House has yet to vote on a similar bill, but Democratic Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota representatives voted early today to make dramatic education changes after a six-hour debate. The governor does not like many of the bill's provisions. The House passed the Republican-proposed changes 68-59 in a bill that replaces teacher tenure with basing pay on an evaluation that includes student performance. Teachers traditionally are paid based on their years of service, something Republicans who control the House and Senate strongly oppose. Also in the bill is the elimination of state aid aimed at promoting integration, mostly in Minneapolis and St.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators will introduce a bill to build a new Vikings football stadium soon. Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said on Tuesday the bill will surface this week, perhaps as early as Wednesday. Lanning has worked on the bill with Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont. It was expected to be introduced early in the year, but the lawmakers needed more time to work out something that could pass. The Moorhead lawmaker would not hint about how the bill would finance a stadium. While Lanning and Rosen were finishing their bill, Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers voted to cut $300 million from college and university spending as they craft a state budget while plugging a $5 billion deficit. Opponents of the Republican-written bill said that some campuses are threatened and up to 1,500 higher education workers could lose their jobs if the bill becomes law. Bills passing the House and Senate Tuesday set a $2.5 billion two-year budget for state-run colleges and universities. That is down from $2.8 billion in the current budget. Senators passed their bill 37-27; representatives passed it 69-60.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota teachers no longer would keep jobs based on tenure under a Minnesota House plan that also would keep public school funding static. The bill considered late Tuesday night would spend slightly more money on public school students while the state Education Department itself would sustain a major cut. Opponents complained about Republican cuts in Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul schools' aid designed to help desegregate schools. In the next two years, the GOP-written House bill would spend about the same $14 billion as in the current budget.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's agriculture industry takes a $10 million hit in a Senate-passed agriculture funding bill. Senators passed the bill 39-25 Monday, with a few Democrats joining Republicans. The bill would spend $77 million in the next two years. Senate Agriculture Chairman Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, said he thinks the bill could earn Gov. Mark Dayton's support. Magnus and Agriculture Commissioner David Frederickson met Friday afternoon to modify the Senate bill in an attempt to find compromises.
ST. PAUL -- Opening the Minnesota Emergency Operations Center has become all too common as spring floods approach, but there is a major difference this year. Nine counties, mostly around the Red River, were affected by floods two years ago. A year ago, 20 counties were flooded.