Free vocational college tuition for Minnesota high school graduates? Student-loan forgiveness for working in specialized fields or rural communities? Tax breaks for the mining and timber industries? A prohibition on performance bonuses for Minnesota health exchange executives?
Top Minnesota lawmakers have had early discussions about cramming more work into the next five months so they could skip a 2016 session amid a construction-ravaged Capitol. Senate Minority Leader David Hann raised the prospect Tuesday, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk hasn’t ruled it out. Bakk acknowledged having preliminary talks with House Speaker Kurt Daudt about that option.
The strike of a gavel Tuesday will start Minnesota’s Legislative session, a marathon of bills, amendments, debate and disagreements that will run into the spring. Here’s a taste of what may be brewing at the Capitol this year.
Existing emergency accounts are probably sufficient to cover state costs related to severe June flooding and avoid the need for a special session of the Minnesota Legislature. That message was delivered Tuesday by Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration.
Minnesota’s defense against future budget shortfalls is a bit sturdier. State finance officials said Tuesday they deposited $150 million more into Minnesota government’s main rainy-day account.
Gov. Mark Dayton has signed a trio of major bills that he says will help Minnesota’s economic growth. The governor was surrounded by legislative Democrats on Tuesday as he signed the tax, budget and construction project bills without a single line-item veto.
Minnesota lawmakers are gone from the Capitol after ending the 2014 session on Friday night. It was an unusually short and productive session. Included on the completed list is the bill to legalize medical marijuana, which became among the most publicly visible — and contentious — issues of the year.
Sensing an imminent finish to their legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers took stock Friday of accomplishments and potential campaign liabilities in a year marked by Democratic drives to boost the minimum wage and target school bullying as well as bipartisan efforts to legalize medical marijuana, fix public infrastructure and deliver tax cuts using surplus money.
Last-minute deals are coming together at Minnesota’s Capitol, which means final votes are closing in on $1 billion in construction authorization, a budget bill and tax cuts. The pace quickened Thursday as lawmakers faced a weekend deadline to complete their session.
Minnesota lawmakers have a deal on a medical marijuana bill that would set up eight distribution sites and allow qualified patients to access the drug in oil, pill and vapor form. The agreement announced Thursday was crafted to suit concerns of Gov. Mark Dayton, who backs it.
Dozens of firefighters from across Minnesota arrived at the State Capitol on Wednesday to talk about the importance of fire sprinklers. According to fire crews, a deadly fire last weekend could have been prevented if the home had fire sprinklers.
In a preview of the floor debate ahead, a Minnesota House committee has advanced a plan to have the state finance $1.1 billion in construction projects amid misgivings over priorities. The plan combines cash financing and borrowing.
Leading lawmakers have announced how they will dispense with what remains of Minnesota’s $1.2 billion budget surplus, a framework that suggests the election-year legislative session is moving toward conclusion. The agreement released Friday by Democratic leaders would allow for $103 million more in tax breaks on top of the $447 million already enacted this year.
With just three weeks left in this year’s session, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed a new version of the bill that includes a state study on how medical marijuana availability would impact Minnesota.
Gov. Mark Dayton has circled a date on his April calendar to deliver a State of the State speech to a joint session of the Minnesota Legislature. Dayton said Wednesday that he’s prepared to give the address on April 23.
Legislative Republicans pressed Monday for a speedy resolution to a controversy over a proposed Senate office building, making clear they oppose its construction. Several GOP lawmakers said the state should make do with the space it has, and reconfigure Capitol renovation plans if necessary.
Barely a week into the legislative session, a $500 million package of tax cuts and repeals is being put to a vote in the Minnesota House. The Legislature is racing to undo some business sales taxes adopted last year, including one on warehousing services that will kick in April 1.
Legislation giving military veterans a legal right to Veterans Day off from work is advancing in the Minnesota Legislature. The bill cleared a state House committee on Wednesday and was also getting consideration in the Senate.
Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration is laying out a list of ideas for pruning Minnesota’s statute of duplicative, outdated or problematic laws. The so-called “unsession” agenda is likely to touch most areas of state government. Three Dayton commissioners were planning to roll it out Tuesday.
Minnesota lawmakers who saw colleagues put several hot-button political issues on the statewide ballot in 2012 are now mulling proposals that would make it harder to do that again.
Republican leaders in the Minnesota Legislature say the $1.2 billion budget surplus is no cause for celebration because it shows state government overtaxes its citizens. Republicans unveiled their response Friday to news of the enhanced surplus: “Give it back.”
Make no waves. That’s a guiding principle for the Democrats in charge of Minnesota’s Legislature, which gathers Tuesday for an annual session that could extend into mid-May. Party leaders are eager to prevent, or at least contain, controversy that can leave a bad taste for voters or alienate important constituencies in a year when the Democratic House majority and Gov. Mark Dayton’s re-election are on the line.
Democrats who lead the Minnesota Legislature left no doubt Wednesday that a minimum wage increase of some kind will prevail in the upcoming session.
A coalition of transportation, business and labor interests proposes a new 5-percent sales tax on fuel in Minnesota to help raise money for new transportation projects. The $750-million-a year roads and transit plan from the group calling itself Move MN is being unveiled Tuesday at a legislative hearing.
Some of Minnesota’s well-known mayors, including the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, are putting their weight behind an effort to pass Minnesota’s first minimum wage hike in 8 years.