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 -- There is no choice but to raise taxes to improve Minnesota's transportation system, say state Senate Democrats. "I can't think of another path ... without some increase...
ST. PAUL -- The death of 4-year-old Eric Dean in west-central Minnesota is producing state legislative discussions about how to improve child abuse investigations. "There has been a light shining onto the child protection system in our state..." Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson told a state Senate committee Monday about the months since Dean's death became a statewide news story. "It should be on the top of the front page, the most emailed story.
ST. PAUL -- Pomp and policy mixed Tuesday as Minnesota legislators returned to work in their 2015 session. Winifred Swedzinski, 6, was in the House chamber for the pomp as her father, Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, was sworn in for his third term. She and her three sisters quietly played around their father's desk during the noon hour session. Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Uniting Minnesota is one of Gov. Mark Dayton's goals as he begins his second, and final, term as the state's chief executive. "What helps some Minnesotans usually helps all of us," Dayton said in his Monday inaugural address to about 400 invited guests. "So let’s cheer each other’s successes, not resent them." The governor, who at 67 has said he will not run again, complained that Minnesotans divide themselves up into camps: "There’s greater Minnesota against the metro area. Central cities vs. suburbs. Urban schools against rural districts. East metro vs. west metro.
State Sen. Kent Eken wants to boost state funding 5 percent for home-based care Minnesota’s elderly and disabled receive, as well as giving a similar raise to nursing homes. The Twin Valley Democrat suggests a higher gasoline tax for transportation needs and would like more money so state-run colleges and universities can continue a tuition freeze. Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, agrees that nursing homes need more money, even if a tax increase is needed.
Minnesota needs to spend $244 million to improve railroad crossing safety where oil trains cross the state, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported on New Year’s Eve. Transportation officials already are spending $2 million the 2014 Legislature appropriated to improve crossings at places where rails and roads are at the same level.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski is a firebrand for his strong right-wing speeches in the Minnesota House, mostly encouraging government to get out of people’s lives. While not personal, the Mazeppa Republican’s speeches are tough and, at times, controversial. Or at least they were.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton plans to focus on education and transportation funding when the Minnesota Legislature opens next week, but said he welcomes anyone "to knock on the door" and offer suggestions for what else should be accomplished. "I'm open to anything," the 67-year-old Dayton told Forum News Service and St.
U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken worry that reduced federal heating assistance for poor Minnesotans will leave too many cold homes as temperatures begin to dip to traditional winter levels. The Minnesota Democrats report that the program known as LIHEAP only has enough funding to serve 20 percent of eligible households. The two wrote a letter to President Barack Obama urging the administration to increase funding. “During cold Minnesota winters, being able to heat your home isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Klobuchar said.