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.
ST. PAUL - Dixie Duncan sat in front of the Senate Transportation Committee, daughter Brynn in a wheelchair at her side, and paused to regain her composure. "Pass this law for Brynn," she pleaded. Committee members obeyed, unanimously approving a bill requiring children up to 8 years old and 4-foot-9 tall to use proper child restraint systems, such as booster seats. Current law requires such restraints for children younger than 4. Duncan, who lives in Moorhead, said her daughter, now 8, sustained severe spinal cord injuries in an Aug. 18, 2008, Fergus Falls accident.
Minnesota's local governments receive 30 percent of their revenue from the state, so when the state budget is sick, local governments sniffle. Now, with a massive state budget deficit, the affliction is much worse than a cold. Many say legislators must resort to major surgery to reduce local government funding flowing from the state. With a budget deficit that could top $6 billion, there is no doubt cities, counties and townships will lose state money.