Michael Khoo Feature Archive

Local government officials and some lawmakers are objecting to the suggestion that cities are squandering state aid payments on unnecessary services. A report from Republican State Auditor Pat Awada concluded that local government aid could be trimmed by 43 percent without affecting essential programs or prompting local property tax increases. But officials from a cross-section of Minnesota cities told lawmakers on Thursday that the auditor's report doesn't present the full picture. (02/13/2003)
An attempt to tighten restrictions on telemarketers is drawing intense criticism from Minnesota's business interests. Last year, lawmakers created a "Do Not Call" list, meant to block unwanted telephone solicitations. Although the list went into effect last month, some legislators think too many calls will slip through. But opponents of tougher limits say it will cost the economy in jobs and growth. (02/10/2003)
A group of lawmakers on Wednesday outlined a proposal to to extend the operational life of the Prairie Island nuclear power plant. Under a 1994 agreement between the state and Northern States Power -- now Xcel Energy -- the utility was restricted in its ability to store spent nuclear fuel at the Prairie Island facility. The new proposal would scrap those limitations. And it's raised concerns among environmentalists and a neighboring Indian tribe. (02/05/2003)
The House is set to take up a budget-balancing plan Monday that preserves most of the state's ethanol payments. Gov. Tim Pawlenty's suggestion that the subsidies should be eliminated to balance the current budget deficit met with cries of protest from farmers and producers of the corn-based fuel. Critics of the program say ethanol producers would survive without state assistance, but supporters say profits vary from year to year and plant to plant. (01/26/2003)
The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday night approved a budget-balancing plan that tracks closely with the priorities outlined by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The $468 million deficit-reduction package now heads to the House floor where the Republican majority anticipates easy passage. But provisions of the plan have upset state employees unions and advocates for the state's steel industry. (01/24/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plan to bridge the state's current $356 million deficit has touched off a chorus of protest from some corners of the Capitol. One of the larger items on the chopping block is the state's subsidy to ethanol producers, which is slated for complete elimination for the remainder of the biennium. Higher education, state agencies, and a business tax break would also suffer. (01/14/2003)
The chair of the Senate Transportation Finance Committee has dusted off last year's plan to boost the state gas tax by pennies on the gallon, but despite support from key legislative leaders, the proposal is likely to meet stiff resistance from Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The new administration has pledged to veto state tax increases of any kind. (01/13/2003)
Before the opening gavel of the 2003 legislative session, lawmakers were already testing their political messages. House DFLers Tuesday floated a pair of themes linking state assistance to cities and counties with terrorism preparedness. (01/07/2003)
Gov. Jesse Ventura held the final news conference of his four-year term Friday, appointing two new judges and taking a few last swipes at the news media. (01/03/2003)
Major transportation initiatives have been stalled at the state Capitol for the last few years, leading to what some advocates say is a near crisis situation on Minnesota's roads and buses. During the campaign for governor, Republican candidate Tim Pawlenty promised that would change under his leadership. But then came the news of the state's whopping $4.5 billion projected deficit. The deficit -- and Pawlenty's pledge not to raise taxes -- complicate the debate over transportation funding. (01/03/2003)
If voters knew one thing about Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty it was this: under no circumstances, he said, would he raise state taxes. Now, Gov.-elect Pawlenty is facing a $4.5 billion budget deficit over the next two years, far bigger than most had anticipated. Pawlenty says the unexpected size of the shortfall hasn't diminished his resolve to stand tough on taxes. But critics say his pledge could damage the state's long-term prospects. (12/31/2002)
Jesse Ventura's election four years ago was remarkable not just for the flamboyant individual Minnesotans picked, but for the party he represented. Ventura hitched a ride to the governor's office with Ross Perot's Reform Party and oversaw its rebirth as the Independence Party. But even members of his own party say he did little of the day-to-day work necessary to capitalize on his electoral success. (12/19/2002)
The curtain falls on Gov. Jesse Ventura's administration in January, bringing to a close Minnesota's brief experiment with three-party government. Four years ago, Ventura took Minnesota and the nation by surprise, delivering an upset victory that few political observers had predicted. And very little that followed was predictable, either. The Ventura years were marked by some notable policy successes. But they're likely to be most remembered for the governor's frequent flamboyance, his occasional outbursts, and his constant celebrity. (12/15/2002)
Plans for a football stadium to be shared by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Vikings hit a snag when Vikings officials rejected a proposed on-campus site. The setback comes just as a design study is due to the legislature. It puts a partnership between the university and the Vikings on hold. The plan for a joint-facility would have been unique in the NFL and some say for a good reason: professional and collegiate sports don't necessarily mix. (11/28/2002)
Gov. Jesse Ventura says he's pleased with a new report card that gives his administration an average score of seven out of 10 on his key initiatives. Shortly after taking office, Ventura unveiled his "Big Plan." Monday's "Big Accounting" finds significant success on tax reform, transit, and trade promotion. But lawmakers say they governor could have been more effective if he'd developed better relations with legislators. (11/25/2002)