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.
Minnesota House members have voted to give themselves drug tests in order to be eligible for their pay and benefits.
The Senate’s soon-to-be-unveiled tax plan will likely affect more than 2 percent of the state’s top earners with an income tax increase, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said Monday.