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Tom Bakk

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House Dems Approve Scaled-Back Senate Building

Top Democrats in the State House Friday approved a scaled-back version of a major new office building next to the Capitol, dedicated to the Minnesota Senate. The building’s original design had a soaring glass front, with a fitness center and reflecting pool. The scaled back version is slightly more modest, but no less controversial.

04/04/2014

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Talking Points: Democrats Fight Themselves Over New Senate Building

This legislative session has stalled out with battles over a proposed $90 million Senate office building and a proposed minimum wage increase. But the battle is not between Republicans and Democrats – it’s the Democrats who are fighting amongst themselves. With Democrats controlling the Minnesota House and Senate as well as the governor’s office, it’s the Democrats who are battling with each other over key issues.

03/30/2014

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New Senate Office Building Sparks Controversy

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.”

03/19/2014

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Minn. Senate Plans Tax Relief Vote On Thursday

Leaders of the Minnesota Senate say they hope to pass a $434 million tax relief measure on Thursday, though it’s not clear if differences with a House version will delay its path to Gov. Mark Dayton.

03/18/2014

(credit: Minnesota State Lottery)

Lottery’s Venture Into Online Sales Fuels Backlash

A month after instant “scratch-off” Minnesota Lottery ticket sales went live on the Internet, the pioneering venture faces a high-powered threat at the Capitol. The Senate leaders of both parties and tax committee heads in both chambers are seeking a one-sentence change in state law to permanently turn off the new portal for gambling. Among other issues, lawmakers are upset that lottery officials introduced the games without seeking their approval through explicit legislation allowing it.

03/14/2014

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Minn. Lawmakers Recruit Big-Time Sporting Events

Minnesota’s bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl has led to discussions about potential tax breaks. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders were meeting privately Wednesday about tax changes that could be needed to land football’s premier game. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has said previously that the league expects cities that host the championship game will exempt player salaries from the income tax and lift taxes on game tickets.

03/12/2014

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Senators Backs Higher Bar For Voter Amendments

Proposed amendments to Minnesota’s Constitution would be less frequent under a proposal backed by a state Senate committee. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk told the Senate State Government Committee Monday that it should be harder to change the state constitution.

03/03/2014

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Top Minn. Legislators Pledge Boost In Minimum Wage

Democrats who lead the Minnesota Legislature left no doubt Wednesday that a minimum wage increase of some kind will prevail in the upcoming session.

02/19/2014

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Minn. Senate Leader: Rebate Checks ‘Unlikely’

Don’t count on a sales tax rebate check like the ones that became popular in prior years Minnesota ran a budget surplus. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said Monday that it’s unlikely his chamber would go that route if there are extra dollars for lawmakers to allocate next year. A forecast last week showed $825 million available but a new report will come out as lawmakers return in late February. The Democrat from Cook says his preference is to add more money to the state’s budget reserves, consider transportation investments and make other tax and spending decisions that don’t have a lasting budget impact.

12/09/2013

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Dayton Wants 2014 Focus On Undoing Minn. Laws

In Gov. Mark Dayton’s ideal scenario, the focus for next year’s Minnesota legislative session will be on pruning old, unneeded laws from the books. Dayton has been collecting ideas from the public and his administrative agencies for the so-called unsession. He has said his inspiration for an unsession came from a 1970s-era advertising slogan for 7-Up that billed the soft drink as the “uncola.”

10/21/2013

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Minn. Lawmakers: Special Session May Not Be Needed

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.

08/16/2013

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Reality Check: Why Do Legislators Pass Laws They Know They Will Repeal?

Repealing taxes that were approved just a couple months ago is highly unusual, but now it just might happen. Especially when it comes to the farm tax — a tax so unpopular, even Gov. Mark Dayton hates it, and he signed it into law.

08/13/2013

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Minn. Lawmakers Go To Atlanta With Pitch To Peers

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.

08/13/2013

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New Minn. Taxes To Get More Scrutiny Next Year

Top Minnesota lawmakers purposely delayed the start of a new sales tax on warehousing services until next April in case they need to revise or undo it before then. The storage service tax, which doesn’t apply to mini-storage rentals, became a point of dispute.

05/21/2013

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Minn. Capitol Renovation Gets Last-Day Rescue

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.

05/20/2013

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