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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Gov. Tim Pawlenty may target local governments as he looks for ways to plug continued budget deficits. Shortly after his aides announced that the current budget contains a $1.2 billion hole and the next two-year budget is $5.4 billion short, Pawlenty on Wednesday said his first action could be chopping a state payment due to local governments later this month.
Minnesota's first swine flu case has been confirmed. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta today confirmed the illness was caused by what Minnesota officials call the "H1N1 novel influenza virus." A woman connected to central Minnesota's Cold Spring school district came down with the flu earlier this month and her doctor sent a specimen to the state health laboratory, which decided it was a probable swine flu case.
The recession means local governments have less money available to spend, but some Minnesota lawmakers say reducing things the state requires local officials to do can save money. "Now is the time to provide some relief," Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said. A House local government committee Monday night approved a Lanning bill that would eliminate holding an annual truth in taxation hearing and allow counties to adopt four-day work weeks.
Workers will fix roofs and walls, renovate buildings and, in general, improve state facilities later this year if some key legislators' wishes come true. Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, on Tuesday announced he plans to push a $300 million public works bill, nearly three times what normally would be expected this year.
ST. PAUL - Jeff Almer wants his mother's death to mean something. Shirley Almer, who owned Wadena Lanes, died Dec. 21 from salmonella poisoning blamed on contaminated peanut butter. It was the first of at least nine U.S. deaths, including three in Minnesota, attributed to the deadly organism from a Georgia peanut butter factory. "I want to make a difference," Almer said after appearing with scientists and the son of another victim in a Monday University of Minnesota roundtable discussion. "It is in honor of my mom that I am doing this." Almer and U.S. Sen.
Comments about Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed two-year budget: "It funds budget priorities in order of importance. ... We believe the Legislature will have slightly different priorities." -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty "Cuts at this level will mean significant reductions in service and even further delays in processing civil and criminal cases.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota politicians want guarantees that any federal money spent to bail out a troubled automobile industry be used wisely. For U.S. Sen. Norm Colman, R-Minn., the key is that whatever money is given to the industry, automakers must be accountable. "I have a strong concern that any support we give the auto industry must have strong, fiscal controls and accountability," Coleman said. "The taxpayers of my state will insist on it, and I will demand it." Coleman and Minnesota Gov.
Minnesota voters continued their trend of siding with Democratic presidential candidates, giving Barack Obama a win Tuesday. They gave Obama a 54-44 win. Minnesota DFL Chairman Brian Melendez said the Obama win was expected. His party faithful gathered at a downtown St.
Minnesotans who endured a lengthy U.S. Senate race now could be forced to wait into December, or longer, to see who actually won. The Associated Press declared Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman the winner of Tuesday's vote. However, with almost all votes counted today, Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken remain in a virtual tie, forcing a mandated recount of every one of the nearly 3 million ballots. Wednesday morning, the Minnesota secretary of state's office reported Coleman with 1,210,660 votes, for 42 percent. Franken followed with 1,209,665, which was 41.97 percent.
How Wadena County voted NO 3,892 YES 2,995 Supporters of a proposal to raise taxes to fund outdoors and arts programs celebrated victory early Wednesday morning. With most votes counted, 55.7 percent of Minnesota's voters had supported a constitutional amendment to raise the state sales tax 0.375 percent to fund outdoors and arts programs. Amendment supporter Steve Morse said Minnesotans sent a message that even in tough economic times, they "protect and value their natural resources." "I think it just underscores how passionately Minnesotans feel about Minnesota," Morse said.