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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Minnesotans, those who care about such things at least, figured special legislative session talk was dead. They could be wrong. Gov. Mark Dayton said at the Minnesota State Fair that if local money could be found to support a southwestern Twin Cities light rail project, and the Legislature did not need to take action on the issue, he would talk to key lawmakers about calling a special session to take up a tax bill and funding public works projects.
Some headlines and social media posts made it sound like Donald Trump's name might not be on the Minnesota ballot on Nov. 8. That remains a possibility, but only if a judge orders his name removed. Former state Republican official Michael Brodkorb, now a blogger, warns that "voters should prepare themselves for lawsuits to be filed to challenge if Minnesota Republicans followed the law to get his name on the ballot."
Farmers can forget about tax breaks to lighten their burden in funding new schools. Drivers on some of Minnesota's most dangerous highways will not see immediate safety improvements. New state aid cities expected is not coming. Those are three of many issues impacted as Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders failed to agree on a special session agenda. As it has been since the regular session adjourned in May, the final stumbling block was whether to build a light rail project in the southwestern Twin Cities.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he plans to campaign for clean water in coming months instead of against Republicans he blamed for torpedoing a special legislative session over a southwestern Twin Cities light rail proposal. The Democratic governor has been very strong in his statements against Republican opposition to the rail project, which he says is needed to move commuters from places like Eden Prairie to Minneapolis. No bus line can do that, he says.
Minnesota's three top political leaders walked out to talk to reporters, wearing big smiles and delivering an occasional laugh. However, it did not take reporters long Friday to figure out that Gov. Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and House Speaker Kurt Daudt had made little progress toward calling a special legislative session to pass a tax bill and fund public works projects.
A look at two Republican U.S. House candidates shows different ways of handling a loss. John Howe dealt with his third-place finish with humor. "Character building day," he tweeted with a photo of him removing campaign signs. "Taking down signs and keeping a positive attitude." He blamed no one and eventually said Lewis has to retain retiring U.S. Rep. John Kline's 2nd District seat for Republicans.
A major focus at Farmfest, the all-things-agriculture show in southwest Minnesota, was the need for farmers to sell themselves. That is not natural. Most farmers do not like to self-promote. "We need to get our message out," state Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, told a Farmfest forum audience Tuesday.
Local government officials across Minnesota need to know if a special legislative session will be called to pass a tax bill. They are nearing a deadline to plan for money the bill would provide them, but Friday is the earliest state leaders will meet about the issue.
Minnesota's lieutenant governor has launched a state office that could draw Republican scorn. The Office of Enterprise Sustainability is designed to combat climate change, which many in the GOP deny is a problem. The new office is to provide agencies assistance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, increase energy efficiency and boost recycling.
Minnesota's minimum wage rises Aug. 1 and several new laws will hit the books. The state's large employers must pay at least $9.50 an hour, while smaller businesses will be required to pay $7.75. Training and youth wages also must be at least $7.75. In 2018, Minnesota minimum wages begin rising annually to match inflation. Monday is the first increase in three years as part of a 2014 law Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton signed after a Legislature controlled by his party passed it. The minimum wage's first increase under the law was to $8 an hour in 2014.