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 -- Two, perhaps three, of Minnesota's eight congressional races will attract plenty of national attention as control of the U.S. House is at stake in November.
MORGAN, Minn. -- A major focus at Farmfest, the all-things-agriculture show in southwest Minnesota, was the need for farmers to sell themselves. That is not natural. Most farmers do not like to self-promote. "We need to get our message out," state Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, told a Farmfest forum audience Tuesday.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's lieutenant governor has launched a state office that could draw Republican scorn. The Office of Enterprise Sustainability is designed to combat climate change, which many in the GOP deny is a problem. The new office is to provide agencies assistance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, increase energy efficiency and boost recycling.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota farmers may not need to install as many mandated buffer strips as originally thought, but it still will cost millions of dollars to comply with a new state law. After announcing Tuesday that a new map is available showing where buffers are required, Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr quoted a new Otter Tail County study that showed just 1,000 acres of land will need to be transformed into buffers to slow water pollution.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court is set to welcome its first American Indian member, who will give the court its second female majority. Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday announced his appointment of Anne K. McKeig, who has been a Hennepin County district court judge as well as presiding family court judge. A White Earth Nation descendant, McKeig was raised in Federal Dam, a small community southeast of Bemidji. White Earth is in northwestern Minnesota.
ST. PAUL -- The most positive description of a high-level Wednesday meeting to set up a Minnesota special legislative session was that it "it was not as productive as I would have liked." Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, also said that "the tone of the speaker's voice" was better than in previous meetings, even though no one could point to any progress made Wednesday.
ST. PAUL -- Greater Minnesota groups are asking Gov. Mark Dayton to sign tax-break legislation lawmakers passed last week. On Thursday, it was clear that Dayton signing the tax bill with aid for cities, counties, farmers, businesses, students, working families and others could be a longshot. Besides tax breaks and local government aids, the bill also contains a one-word mistake that would cost the state more than $100 million.
ST. PAUL -- A pension bill and parts of an outdoor-program funding bill received governor vetoes Tuesday. The pension bill would have cut payments to retired government workers, which Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said he found unacceptable. He said that government employers and current employees should be responsible for paying into the pension fund, something he said that he will demand during the 2017 legislative session.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's legislative leaders often say that House-Senate conference committees should work out major legislation in public. That way, the logic goes, not only can the public watch the public's business, but more eyes on bills would mean fewer mistakes. But pretty much every year, those public negotiations never happen.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota farmers driving 86,000 tractors do not have adequate safety equipment, some state lawmakers say, so legislation is being considered to provide them financial help to update their machines. "These would be the smaller, older tractors," Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, said. A state House agriculture committee Wednesday approved an Anderson bill to launch a $250,000 program to offer a combination of public and private aid to farmers to install roll bars and seat belts on tractors.