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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ST. PAUL -- A dramatic Minnesota Supreme Court ruling Wednesday threw state budget talks back to 2009. Minnesota legislators and Gov. Tim Pawlenty failed to balance the state budget a year ago and a Wednesday high court ruling ordered them back to the negotiations table they left then. The court threw out the governor's summer unilateral budget cuts and told the two sides try again to plug a $2.7 billion budget hole. Pawlenty used a process known as unallotment to cut spending and balance the budget after negotiations failed.
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher outlasted a slew of rivals Saturday night to emerge as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's choice for Minnesota governor -- the first woman backed by a major party for the state's highest elected office. "Are you ready to make some history? Are you ready to make history together?" Kelliher asked the convention as she accepted the endorsement. Kelliher edged Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who conceded at 11:10 p.m. after nearly 1,400 delegates cast five ballots. Kelliher's path to November is far from clear, with three major Democrats -- former U.S.
ST. PAUL -- Anti-tobacco activists spread out around the Minnesota Capitol Wednesday in an effort to convince lawmakers to ban products they say are designed to hook children on nicotine. A bill due up for a legislative committee hearing today would forbid sale of "e-cigarettes," designed to give users nicotine vapor without tobacco, and related nicotine products. The bill also would classify "little cigars" as cigarettes. "The new products, they are sneaky," said Dr. Mary Boylan of St.
ST. PAUL -- Some Minnesota lawmakers say they have found a way to prevent closing physical and mental health facilities serving the disabled, mentally ill, chemically dependent and those with brain injuries. They would spend $17 million in federal and state money to keep the facilities open at least temporarily. Some lawmakers say the goal is to fund the programs until Gov. Tim Pawlenty leaves office, with the hope that the governor who takes office next January will be more friendly toward the programs. Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers are waiting for Congress before cutting the state budget any further. Before leaving for a week-long Easter-Passover break, legislative leaders said they would immediately begin making the second phase of budget cuts when they got back to work.
SUPERIOR, Wis. -- It was a dark and quiet night. A really quiet night. A little travel trailer and one small tent were the only camping units occupying any of the 62 campsites at Pattison State Park south of Superior on a recent night. The next night was just as lonely. Most people do not experience such quietness in state park campgrounds. Campers tend to wait for the warmest three months of the year to pitch their tents, pull in their trailers or park their massive motor homes in campgrounds.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota motorists will see more orange barrels than ever this summer after state officials Wednesday announced they will spend a record $1.3 billion on transportation projects. Of the 283 projects on the Minnesota Department of Transportation's 2010 list, 217 are on highways. The remaining projects deal with railroads, ports and transit. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel and other government officials gathered within earshot of the year's biggest project, a $150 million Interstate 494-U.S.