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 -- In the simplest terms, Minnesota's seven Supreme Court justices are deciding if the Legislature has full control of state spending, or if the governor has a role once a budget is approved. The decision could affect not only the current state budget, but also could impact the power future governors wield. Specifically, the high court's task is deciding if Gov. Tim Pawlenty acted legally last summer when he cut $5.3 million out of a state-funded dietary program.
ST. PAUL -- Fifty-two public works projects across Minnesota such as college building renovations and state trails fell victim to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto pen Monday, and legislative leaders say there is little chance lawmakers will send any more projects to him before he leaves office early next year. "He basically massacred the bill," Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Whether Gov. Tim Pawlenty acted legally when he cut $2.7 million from the state budget last summer may rest on whether Minnesota Supreme Court justices think the Legislature has given the governor a right to trim budgets. The state's attorneys told seven high court judges today that Pawlenty had to make the cuts to balance the state budget, as the constitution requires.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty sounds like he will accept parts of the public works funding bill headed to his desk. "The bonding bill that is coming my way is a bill we can work with," Pawlenty told reporter Dave Olson of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead this morning after surveying Moorhead flood-prevention activities. He said "there will be some trimming involved," but indicated $63.5 million earmarked for flood projects will be preserved.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty will veto a public works funding bill a House-Senate conference committee approved Tuesday night, a Republican lawmaker told his colleagues. The main point of contention is money for a Moose Lake sex offender facility. Pawlenty wants $89 million and the Democratic-controlled Legislature is offering $47.5 million. Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said that the governor's office told him Pawlenty could accept $60.5 million for the facility, but the entire bill likely will be vetoed at the level the committee approved.
ST. PAUL -- Students who change colleges often discover not all of their credits transfer, so a bill backed Tuesday by a Senate committee takes steps to fix that. "The state should reduce the hurdles," Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, said. "The goal is to allow students to transfer credits seamlessly." A bill she authored, similar to one in the House, would require the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to do more to align courses at its 25 two-year colleges and seven state universities so credits transfer more easily.
ST. PAUL -- A state senator's bill designed to help fund a 4-H program in one county could end up hurting them statewide, a fellow senator and a county fair representative warn. Sen. Kathy Saltzman's bill to provide new ways to fund 4-H programs passed out of its first committee Monday, but not before she heard warnings that it could do more harm than good.
ST. PAUL -- A newly revised public works funding bill that would spend $986 million on projects across Minnesota is firm, set in stone, ready to pass both the House and Senate in the next few days. Maybe. Chief legislative negotiators on the issue said late Thursday afternoon that they had done their best to build a public works bill, funded by the state selling bonds, and a deal they just made would be their final work on the issue. While their proposal would spend far more than the $685 million Gov.
ST. PAUL -- A proposal to lift Minnesota's moratorium on new nuclear power plants is in limbo after a Senate committee amended it with what its sponsor called a poison pill. The Senate Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee on a 9-6 vote Thursday tacked an amendment on the bill with a series of requirements the state and power companies must follow before a nuclear power plant could be built. The requirements, suggested by Sen. John Doll, DFL-Burnsville, included not allowing a new power plant until the federal government provides a place to store nuclear waste.
ST. PAUL -- Hundreds of St. Louis County residents descended on the state Capitol Wednesday, not knowing they would star in one of the year's top political dramas. Dozens attending Duluth and St. Louis County Days sat amid lobbyists as public works funding negotiators gathered for a late-afternoon meeting that senators expected to lay out a framework for a new proposal. An agreement did not come, but the Duluth area had its say. Chief House negotiator Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St.