Frustrated by a transportation plan stuck in neutral at the Capitol, Gov. Mark Dayton ramped up pressure Thursday on majority House Republicans to produce a viable alternative to his multi-billion dollar proposal for roadwork and mass-transit projects. Dayton joined Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk in questioning the GOP’s commitment to tackling the transportation-funding issue this year as the session nears its midpoint.
A projected $1.87 billion budget surplus puts majority House Republicans in a game of tug-of-war — not just with Democrats who control the rest of state government, but within their own party’s competing and sometimes conflicting priorities over how much should be spent versus returned to taxpayers.
A wide gulf between how Republicans, Democrats and business groups want to tackle the state’s multibillion-dollar backlog of road and bridge repairs all but guarantees that what’s been billed as the biggest fight of the 2015 legislative session will live up to the hype. House Republicans unveiled a proposal Thursday that would tap a projected budget surplus and shave spending at the Department of Transportation to fund $750 million in repairs over the next four years.
Members of the newly-elected Minnesota House took the oath of office in a major construction zone Tuesday. The Capitol is shrouded in scaffolding. Lawmakers and their families navigated closed-off hallways and long elevator lines to open the session. The new Republican majority selected Rep. Kurt Daudt as the powerful house speaker.
Minnesota lawmakers are returning to action in a session where they’ll have to navigate a new political dynamic and widespread Capitol construction. The five-month session starts at noon Tuesday. It’s when Republicans formally regain House control.
House Democrats are upset that the Republican majority removed a veteran DFL lawmaker from a committee that handles environmental issues. Minneapolis Democrat Rep. Jean Wagenius chaired the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance committee until the GOP won back the chamber in November. First elected in 1986, Wagenius is among the longest-serving DFL legislators.
Minnesota’s top two political leaders met face to face Thursday for the first time since the election. They’re pledging cooperation, not division. Minnesota’s top two political leaders met face to face Thursday for the first time since the election. They’re pledging cooperation, not division. Over a luncheon of pork loin and potatoes, the Republican Speaker and Democratic Governor met face to face at the official Residence.
DFLers in the Minnesota House have elected Rep. Paul Thissen of Minneapolis as their new minority leader. Thissen had been House speaker. But with Republicans winning control of the Minnesota House in Tuesday’s elections, Democrats are returning to minority status in that chamber.
The party’s over for Minnesota Democrats. After two years of calling the shots in state government — a span in which they legalized gay marriage, raised the minimum wage and launched a state-run health exchange — their new reality is one of shared control with Republicans who gained a state House majority.
Firefighters are the first people we call when we smell smoke or see flames. We rely on them to save our homes and loved ones, while they put their own lives at risk. On Monday, more than a dozen local and state leaders got a sense of what goes into fighting fires by getting a hands-on look at the different roles of the job.
Minnesota’s bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl has led to discussions about potential tax breaks. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders were meeting privately Wednesday about tax changes that could be needed to land football’s premier game. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has said previously that the league expects cities that host the championship game will exempt player salaries from the income tax and lift taxes on game tickets.
A key Minnesota lawmaker said Tuesday she doesn’t see a path forward for legalizing medical marijuana after talks with law enforcement hit a standstill. Rep. Carly Melin said she had conceded to virtually all demands from law enforcement over the weekend but was still unable to get their support for her bill.
Minnesota lawmakers have the kind of problem on their hands that, at first glance, would appear to be a good thing. Friday the state announced a surprising $1.23 billion surplus. But the debate about what to do with the surplus is so intense its even pitting members of the same party against each other.
Democrats who control Minnesota’s House and Senate agree a $1.2 billion surplus is likely to make for an easier legislative session, but there’s not agreement yet on how much to spend, save or rebate to taxpayers. House Speaker Paul Thissen says he wants to move quickly on more than $500 million in tax relief.
Democrats who control Minnesota’s Legislature are planning a major push in the upcoming session for a package of bills aimed at breaking down what they say are continued barriers to economic success for women.
On Monday, Governor Mark Dayton signed an emergency bill into law, sending disaster aid to Minnesota counties hit hard by a week of severe summer storms in June. Eighteen Minnesota counties – including the largest, Hennepin County – were hit by high winds, torrential rains and widespread flooding during the five days of storms. Damage was heavy in the southeastern part of the state, where lawmakers – including Republican Rep. Greg Davids of Preston – thanked Minnesotans for their help.
Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders agreed Friday that Sept. 9 is the date they would hold a possible special session, but also said it might not be necessary after all.
A contingent of Minnesota legislators and convention bureau representatives is in Atlanta trying to convince lawmakers from elsewhere to put the Twin Cities in their travel plans. More than a dozen Minnesota lawmakers are at the National Conference of State Legislature’s summer summit.
Extensive work on the 107-year-old state Capitol is getting the go-ahead from Minnesota lawmakers in a late financial rescue package. A borrowing proposal that came together on the Legislature’s final day includes $109 million for the next phase of a renovation to the deteriorating building. The money was needed this year to keep underway construction from halting. A new parking ramp will be authorized, but paid for with fees from users.
Leading Minnesota lawmakers have sorted out a tax package that is the linchpin of the next state budget. The top two percent of income earners will pay two percent more on a portion of their income. The per-pack tax on cigarettes will rise by $1.60. Some corporate tax preferences will go away. But there won’t be any changes to the alcohol tax.
With ten days to go in the 2013 session, DFL legislative leaders held budget talks with Governor Mark Dayton Friday to hammer out their differences on tax and budget issues, including a Senate proposal to extend the state’s sale tax to clothing.
Gun control advocates said Friday that Democrats at the Minnesota Legislature are showing a “lack of courage” by shelving a vote on tougher gun laws.
Gun control supporters are planning to gather outside Minnesota’s House chamber to express disappointment that bills to expand background checks for gun purchases are shelved for the year at the Capitol.
The DFL state representative who pushed expanded background checks for Minnesota gun buyers said Thursday that he’s angry with his fellow Democrat, House Speaker Paul Thissen, for shelving the bill this year.
House Speaker Paul Thissen says the Minnesota House will not vote on any gun control bills this year.