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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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton knows his $1.4 billion public works project plan cannot happen as proposed. "It's like pushing a boulder uphill," he said Friday in announcing his proposal, one of the largest such requests in history and a big target for Republicans who prefer spending much less. Knowing the opposition he faces, he began a campaign for the measure saying this is a good time to borrow money, through the state selling bonds. "Today is the day we talk about investing in the future of Minnesota," Dayton said.
Minnesota cities, especially small rural ones, ask the state for money almost every year to improve their sewage treatment systems. Same for their water treatment plants. Wadena is among the list. With a new law requiring farmers to separate cropland from water with vegetation, they also seek financial help. Those and other water-quality issues equal a big problem for Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton said as he proposed that the state borrow nearly $220 million to improve the state's water.
Most of the recent high-level discussions about rural Minnesota have centered on Iron Range problems created by a weak American steel industry, but even state leaders who live near where miners are laid off stay it is just part of a statewide rural problem. "There is an issue of our rural economy," Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook said. "You go all across these rural towns and we are going to have to discuss what we can do." While broadband is important, Bakk added that extending high-speed Internet service is not a cure-all for rural Minnesota.
Americans may board commercial airlines for at least two more years with state identification cards that do not meet new federal guidelines, but it was not clear after Friday's announcement if a rush to change Minnesota law will continue. The federal Department of Homeland Security announced it will not require Real ID-compliant cards until Jan. 22, 2018. However, states making progress to distribute the enhanced IDs could receive extensions until Oct. 1, 2020, when everyone would be required to use Real ID cards or another form of ID such as passports.
There is no statewide Minnesota election this year, so naturally politicos turn at least some of their attention to 2018. Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog feeds some of that need with an entry that reminds readers: "Gopher state Democrats have never won back-to-back gubernatorial elections with different nominees."
Minnesota Democrats hope the flip-flopping of state House control continues through one more election. Democrats mostly dominated the House for years, until Republicans held control from 1999 to 2006.
State officials are looking into reducing some drug sentences and whether the action could help relieve prison overcrowding. Drawing from available data, Executive Director Nathaniel Reitz of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission said that "probation may be something that may not harm public safety." Hours after Reitz told that to a prison overcrowding task force, his commission started in motion a plan that could allow some drug offenders be on probation instead of in prison and could reduce prison sentences for others. The number of prisoners held on drug crimes peaked in 2005, d
MINNEAPOLIS -- Five people were shot and injured late Monday near the Minneapolis police 4th Precinct, where protesters of a young black man's shooting have camped out for more than...
Minnesota's Revenue Department tells property owners something they already assumed: Property taxes will rise next year. The department received data from local governments indicating that overall city taxes will jump 5.2 percent, counties will be up 3.7 percent and townships plan a 2.4 percent increase. School tax levies next year are expected to be up 7.5 percent, an increase of $186 million.
The state's MNsure health insurance sales program says that what its officials have said for weeks now has a study to back them up. Interim CEO Allison O'Toole and others have promoted, heavily promoted, shopping around the MNsure Website to find the best insurance deals. Wakely Consulting Group now has released a study showing that 85 percent of this year's MNsure enrollees who do not receive government subsidies will deal with a 389 percent premium increase if they just let their current plan renew.