Top Minnesota lawmakers are working to set the terms of a deal on tax cuts, new state spending and borrowing for construction that would enable them to end their session. Democratic leaders of the House and Senate said Thursday that they were closing in on a framework.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is advising the Legislature to forge ahead with a bill making clear that lawmakers can’t avoid arrest for drunken driving or other crimes during the months of session. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Latz responded Thursday that he’s not convinced that a new law is required to resolve what he sees as a misunderstanding of current law.
Top Minnesota lawmakers are making a major push to expand high-speed internet to regions of the state that still don’t have it. Minnesota House Democrats are proposing big internet upgrades they say will improve rural schools and businesses.
Minnesota lawmakers haven’t had a pay hike since 1999. But they can boost their take-home pay with per diem — up to $76 per day in the Minnesota House, and up to $86 a day in the Minnesota Senate.
Lawmakers will be less than a month from the mandatory session finish line when they return to the Capitol after Easter, but don’t be surprised if they make an earlier break for it. Much of the heavy lifting of the election-year session is done. Negotiators from the House, Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration forecast more ease than usual buttoning up remaining tax and budget bills.
Minnesota lawmakers’ immunity to drunken driving arrests would end under a bill that passed a House committee on Friday, a day after the Senate’s version was tabled by lawmakers who see it as unnecessary. The archaic provision in the state constitution dates to 1858, when the state’s founding fathers wanted to protect legislators from being arrested and detained from votes on important measures.
An expensive office building for lawmakers at the Capitol is facing new scrutiny. The four-story glass, steel and stone complex would sit across the street from the Capitol, and include offices for 45 of Minnesota’s 67 state senators. But the cost and design are raising eyebrows, even from supporters like Gov. Mark Dayton, who called the project “overly lavish.”
The up-and-down medical marijuana bill at the Capitol may be down again. Top lawmakers in the House and Senate say it’s not likely to pass this year. Advocates of legalizing medical marijuana are hoping to make Minnesota the 20th state in the country to do so. Thursday, the advocates said it’s possible to pass it this year. But it’s not about medicine at this point at the Capitol; it’s about math.
Minnesota state lawmakers are trying to slow down a plan from the Department of Public Safety that would restrict public access to driver’s license data, including the bulk sale of data to insurance companies and car dealers. DPS officials say they made the change after thousands of snooping incidents into personal driver’s license records. But insurance industry executives, and Insurance Federation of Minnesota Vice President Mark Kulda, say it could add money to your insurance bill.
Minnesota lawmakers have a difficult job ahead. They must decide what to do about the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, now that a federal judge has ruled that it is broken and in need of repair.
As the boys state hockey tournament skates into the Xcel Energy Center, it’s another showdown in St. Paul that some high school athletes are fighting to win. Lawmakers are wondering if some students and their parents are going too far to gain a competitive edge.
A group of health experts and faith leaders were at the state capitol Monday to ask lawmakers to raise wages to improve the health of workers. Statistics show that low-income workers die eight-years earlier than other workers. Shaquonica Johnson, 37, has been a personal care attendant for 15 years. She works several different jobs at $8.50 an hour to care for her two children.
Minnesota Department of Administration officials estimate it would cost at least $2.4 million to rent temporary space for state senators and staff during the ongoing Capitol renovation.
Minnesota lawmakers have been told that a final decision on a new Senate Office Building must be made within weeks or a related renovation of the state Capitol will cost more and take longer.
Fears of prying from the sky have some Minnesota lawmakers seeking clamps on law enforcement’s use of unmanned aerial drones to gather evidence.
Students at Concordia University are attempting something not a lot of college students try to do. They’re going to the Minnesota Legislature to get some laws changed, including one controversial loophole for the lawmakers themselves.
Salaries of the top-paid employees in Minnesota city and county government have risen sharply since the state peeled back a restriction that made it rare for local personnel to earn more than the governor.
Lawmakers weighing where to send public construction aid are touring several Minnesota cities with projects in the 2014 mix. Members of the Senate Capital Investment Committee are headed to eight cities this week after spending three days on the road earlier in the month.
In Minnesota, veterans rallied at the Vietnam Memorial in St. Paul to show their support of the national movement. They talked about the closing of the national war memorials and the suspension of death benefits to military families.
Minnesota state legislators are struggling with how to craft new laws that would effectively combat the growing use of synthetic drugs. Several state House committees met Wednesday to strategize how to address problem that medical and law enforcement officials say is rapidly getting worse.
Minnesota leaders are taking stock of state departments that work in tandem with the federal government to determine those most at risk in the shutdown.
Two-year union contracts providing Minnesota state workers three percent annual raises are up for review by a panel of legislators. The Subcommittee on Employee Relations is deciding whether to ratify the deals.
A special session is expected to get underway today at the Minnesota State Capitol. Lawmakers are expected to deal with disaster relief after last June’s storms.
Starting Monday, Minnesota’s tax on tobacco is the sixth-highest in the country. The tax just jumped to $2.83 from $1.60, making the average pack of cigarettes in Minnesota now $7.51. Lawmakers who upped the tax said they did it not only to raise money, but to get people to quit.