Christopher Magan / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL — Safer schools, better protections for vulnerable adults, reining in a flood of opioid prescriptions — these were all big priorities for the Minnesota Legislature when it convened in February. So what do noxious weed inspectors, licensing for hair braiders and regulating solar energy have to do with the state's most pressing needs?
ST. PAUL—Minnesota does a lot to prepare children for elementary school, but its often tough for families to find the right program, leaving some children without the head start they need to succeed. Those are the findings of an analysis of Minnesota's early learning programs released Thursday by the state Legislative Auditor, a government watchdog. The organization looked at the reach and effectiveness of nine different programs that received state funding to provide preschool and other programs to young children.
ST. PAUL—House Republicans in the state Legislature want to cut Minnesota's second-tier tax rate as part of their plans to align the state's tax code with recent federal changes. Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, who chairs the House taxes committee, released a proposal Saturday that he said would simplify state taxes so residents will get the most out of the recent federal tax cut bill.
ST. PAUL—The Minnesota Legislature convened two months ago with a lot on its plate. But with less than five weeks until they have to wrap up their work, there's a growing risk much could be left undone. Tax reform, elder abuse, the opioid addiction fight, school safety, a malfunctioning vehicle-licensing system — and sexual harassment among their ranks — Minnesota lawmakers began the year with a long list of priorities. So far, they've accomplished little.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Republicans say Gov. Mark Dayton needs to drop a proposal to continue a tax that pays for health care for the working poor if he wants any chance at an agreement to rewrite the state’s tax code. “If the provider tax is not part of the conversation, tax conformity is a lot easier,” Rep. Pat Garofalo said Thursday, moments after finishing a news conference where he accused the Democratic governor of supporting what amounts to a $1.4 billion tax hike.
PAUL -- Minnesota’s opioid epidemic was more deadly than ever in Ramsey County last year, taking the lives of 72 people, a 16 percent increase over the year before. The urgent need to address the crisis came into sharp focus again Thursday, April 19, as law enforcement officials announced a counterfeit prescription drug containing the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl killed the rock star Prince in 2016.
ST. PAUL—Sparring over how to best align Minnesota's tax code with recent federal changes began in earnest this week, quickly illustrating how far apart Republicans and Democrats are from finding common ground. The specifics of Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal were revealed when legislation spanning more than 100 pages was introduced in the House and Senate. The state Department of Revenue also released an analysis of the proposal's impact on taxpayers.
ST. PAUL—The race for Al Franken's former Senate seat added another candidate Monday, April 16. Real estate developer Jerry Trooien officially announced a bid for the Senate seat now held by Tina Smith. Trooien, 70, is running as an independent and campaigning against what he described as the political dysfunction of the Democratic and Republican parties. "America has become third place behind the parties," Trooien said during a news conference at the Capitol.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota House Republicans released a supplemental budget plan Thursday, April 12, that they say continues on the theme of tax cuts and "common sense" spending they set last year. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, called 2017: "the most productive legislative session in modern history." This year's proposal puts $107 million of the state's projected $329 million budget surplus toward tax breaks that will realign Minnesota's tax code with recent federal changes.
ST. PAUL—Black children in Minnesota are three times more likely to become involved with child protection and be removed from their homes than white children. A group of state lawmakers say those disparities are caused by widespread inequity across Minnesota's child-protection system that includes how initial allegations are reviewed, how parents are screened and assessed and how incidents are resolved. Native American families and children face an even larger disparity.