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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Last week was a time for Minnesota Democrats to downplay expectations. On Wednesday, state officials announced that there would be no big infusion of money for the two-year budget that begins July 1. That led to Democrats to say legislators cannot do everything some Minnesotans expected. On Friday, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St.
Minnesota's 150th birthday party is taking shape. It was 150 years ago last week that Congress took the first step to admitting Minnesota into the union. The state became the 32nd state on May 11, 1858. The Sesquicentennial Commission is planning activities to last through May 11, 2008. Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced there will be grants to help build local sesquicentennial projects and events. He included $2 million for that in his budget proposal.
Rep. Morrie Lanning says he sympathizes with mobile home park residents. Lanning, R-Moorhead, said he understands what it's like to live in a home on land owned by someone else. When he first moved to Moorhead, he lived in what is now Greenwood Communities Mobile Home Park. "My interest in this comes out of my experience," he said. Lanning supports a bill making it easier for mobile home residents to pool resources and buy their park if it's for sale.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota Senate Democrats have talked a lot about early-childhood education, but now say their first job is to fill a nearly $500 million gap in special education funding. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller. DFL-Minneapolis, said on Wednesday that special education funding is not in itself a priority, but the special ed gap drains money from other programs. Gov.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota legislators and the governor were thrilled with a $2.2 billion state budget surplus. Finally, property tax relief, education and health programs would be funded adequately. Many Republicans talked about rebates and Democrats were happy that they would have some money for their pet programs. That was last November. On Wednesday, state officials released their latest budget predictions, but despite showing a nearly identical surplus to the one announced three months ago, the Capitol attitude was gloomy, with some Democrats predicting tax increases.
ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty authorized the Minnesota National Guard to help snow-buried communities late Thursday afternoon as a winter storm strengthened. Pawlenty signed an order authorizing the Guard to help with electric power generation, searching for people lost in the storm, providing shelter and other humanitarian efforts.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota legislators and Gov. Tim Pawlenty will have a $2.163 billion surplus to spend in the next two years, state officials announced this morning. In November, a similar budget forecast showed they would have nearly $2.2 billion. Now legislators and Pawlenty can get down to real work writing a budget. More than a month ago, Pawlenty suggested spending $34.4 billion in the next two years. Lawmakers wait until the Finance Department releases its February budget forecast before they start putting specific numbers to their budget priorities.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota must intervene to help the state maintain its ethanol leadership, supporters of the next generation of the plant-based fuel say. The intervention would include providing subsidies to farmers growing grass or other plants that are more efficient sources for ethanol than the traditional corn. It also would give loans to build new facilities to produce ethanol from nontraditional plants such as switch grass. Minnesota lawmakers are looking at more comprehensive ethanol changes than any other state, state Rep.
ST. PAUL. - A Senate committee overturned three days worth of northern Minnesota senators' work Monday when it restored a statewide smoking ban proposal to near its original form. The panel removed provisions that would have allowed bars to allow smoking if they install ventilation equipment and to forbid local ordinances stronger than the state law.
Rep. Paul Marquart, chairman of the House property taxes committee, set up a hotline to receive public comments on the matter and has been getting ideas, such as: -- "For resorts, freeze or minimize property tax on resorts if the resort would agree to not break up the land for a certain amount of time to developers. This would save ma and pa resorts from breaking up. My bet is ma and pa would not sell." -- from Park Rapids.