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 - Next year's Minnesota Legislature should be interesting, given that many key lawmakers want to make the jump to governor - or at least are considering it. Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, opted to leave his job as minority leader even if he just "kicks the tires" for a gubernatorial run. He said it would not be fair to the 47 House Republicans if he were forced to split his time between leading them and running for governor. Another House leader soon may face the same situation, but pretty much no one expects her to step out of her high-profile role.
ST. PAUL - Minnesotans can expect state government budget cuts like they have not seen for five years, thanks to a tanking national economy. Classrooms apparently will be exempt from the reductions, but it will be weeks before legislators decide how to plug a $935 million budget gap. The deficit Finance Department officials announced Thursday is "series, but solvable," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said. Some money to fill the budget gap will come from reserves set aside at the end of last year's legislative session, Pawlenty and legislative leaders said.
MINNEAPOLIS - Federal checks meant to stimulate the economy will help, but Minnesota's state economist said Wednesday a fiscal slowdown will continue. The checks may help the state move out of a half-year recession, Tom Stinson said, but once Minnesotans spend them the economy likely will slip again. "We think the economy will bottom out in the fall of this year, then start a gradual growth," Stinson predicted. Stinson appeared before the Twin Cities Agricultural Issues Round Table, saying Minnesotans are feeling the recession most in loss of jobs.
Mark Ritchie's involvement in public policy goes back years, but he never wanted to run for public office. That is, until U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone died in an airplane crash five years ago Thursday (Oct. 25). "When Paul was killed ...
Minnesota's Democratic legislative leaders Tuesday dropped most of their wish list for a special session, and pleaded with Gov. Tim Pawlenty to call lawmakers back to St. Paul to only work on issues related to a Minneapolis bridge collapse and southeast Minnesota flooding. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, both Minneapolis Democrats, sent Pawlenty a letter asking that the session convene next Tuesday and go no more than two days.
Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources wants to buy park land in northeastern Minnesota -- and other land around the state -- with state lottery revenue. Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Holsten on Tuesday released a proposal calling for borrowing $97.5 million, to be repaid over 22 years with money used to buy lottery tickets.
Many top Minnesota transportation officials are focused on the collapsed Minneapolis bridge, but they say that is not slowing down other projects. And routine bridge inspections continue even as a new round of checks nears. Bob McFarlin, assistant to the transportation commissioner, said Monday that the collapse has not affected construction projects around the state.
Two books that tell Minnesotans more about their state than they ever knew are available - and for free. The secretary of state's office introduced the new Minnesota Legislative Manual, better known as the Blue Book, and its student edition version.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has launched a new campaign. It is not for re-election, or even for the vice presidency, something many think may be in his future. This one is against Democratic legislators. The Republican governor's campaign committee is buying radio spots complaining about Democratic-Farmer-Laborite tax increase proposals. "When you finish a diet program, you don't celebrate by going to the all-you-can-eat buffet," a soft female voice says to open the commercial. "When you finally pay off your credit cards, you don't go on a spending spree.
Tom Ossell says a little tax break would make a big difference for his 10-cabin resort. The owner of Northern Lights Resort and Outfitting at Kabetogama, near International Falls, said a 2005 resort tax relief measure spurred resort owners to improve their facilities.