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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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.
ST. PAUL - Not much has changed in the nearly nine months since Minnesota lawmakers wrapped up their 2007 legislative session. One of the issues at the forefront of the 2008 session, which begins at noon today, is a prime example. Democrats plan to unveil a transportation funding plan that includes a higher gasoline tax and a Twin Cities-area sales tax increase. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty twice vetoed transportation funding bills similar to the one Democrats plan to introduce today.
ST. PAUL - Talk about Gov. Tim Pawlenty being John McCain's running mate is escalating in light of Mitt Romney's campaign suspension.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's political pundits like to speculate on Gov. Tim Pawlenty becoming Sen. John McCain's vice presidential running mate. To Sen. Steve Murphy, Pawlenty going to Washington would be a disaster. It is not because he likes Pawlenty so much; it is because Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau would then be governor. Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said that is a frightening possibility. He is very critical of what he calls Molnau's incompetence running the Department of Transportation.
ST. PAUL - A blossoming new mining industry in northern Minnesota faces a conflict that earlier versions of the industry still fight - preserving the environment vs.
ST. PAUL - Finding where to attend political caucuses should be easy for Minnesotans. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office launched an on-line caucus finder on its Web site, www.sos.state.mn.us . Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican party caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 5. Information for Green, Constitution and Independence party members also is on the site. The DFL and Republicans will vote for presidential candidates on Feb.
The Minnesota state auditor, charged with overseeing local governments' finances, is making some changes. Auditor Rebecca Otto, a Democrat, unveiled a new Web site, www.auditor.state.mn.us to make it easier for Minnesotans to find reports about local governments. Also, Otto has launched a program to find the best methods local governments have found to save energy costs. "This topic is timely given rising energy costs and growing public awareness around energy conservation," Otto said.
ST. PAUL - Landing a wind-turbine research facility would be akin to the opening of iron mines in northeastern Minnesota, famed Arctic explorer Will Steger said Thursday in supporting the effort. Dressed in an outfit that included mukluks and a sweater - while surrounded by state leaders in suits -- Steger urged Minnesota policymakers to do what they can to lure Denmark-based Vestas Technology to build a research and development facility. Vestas is the world's largest maker of wind turbine equipment. "They put up a wind turbine every five hours in the world," Rep.
ST. PAUL - A design error in the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed Aug. 1 prompted Minnesota officials to look at the original plans of 59 similar bridges. The $500,000 re-evaluation follows Tuesday's preliminary report blaming gusset plates that connect bridge beams for the Interstate 35W bridge collapse. Bridges Minnesota officials gave priority status for the re-evaluation include U.S. 61 over Mississippi River at Hastings, U.S. 63 over Mississippi River at Red Wing and the Blatnik Bridge in Duluth.
ST. PAUL - Legislatively imposed deadlines helped prevent teacher strikes this year, Education Minnesota's president claims. As of Tuesday afternoon, 17 of the state's 346 school districts had not reached contract agreements with teachers, Tom Dooher said.