The Department of Corrections doesn't know how
many convicted sex offenders are being held in nursing homes around
the state, Commissioner Joan Fabian told lawmakers Wednesday.
House members questioned Fabian as part of their investigation
into why at least five sex offenders were housed in a private
Minneapolis facility along with vulnerable adults between 2002 and
State lawmakers are receiving overwhelmingly poor marks in a new poll that looks back to this year's do-little legislative session. Lawmakers adjourned last month after failing to reach consensus on most of the year's main issues. The survey was conducted for Minnesota Public Radio and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It shows wide dissatisfaction with lawmakers and a willingness to spread the blame widely. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, however, seems to have escaped much of the rancor.
Controversy over same-sex marriage threatens to scuttle chances for a special legislative session to address this year's many unresolved budget and policy issues. Lawmakers adjourned their regular session earlier this month without taking action on reducing the state's projected deficit, making infrastructure improvements, or enhancing public safety. While many lawmakers say they'd like a second chance to address those matters, Gov. Tim Pawlenty says they could all be lost in the argument over gay marriage.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty is taking unilateral action to erase a projected $160 million deficit. Lawmakers adjourned over the weekend without breaking an impasse over how to balance the budget. Pawlenty says that left him no choice but to cover the shortfall through executive action. But he says his options as governor are more limited than the choices that were open to legislators. The governor squarely blamed Senate DFLers for this year's gridlock, only to find the finger pointing back at him.
If you're a hunter, you got a new season for mourning doves. If you're a state trooper, you got a tougher drunken driving standard, starting in summer '05. If you're a student in kindergarten through high school, you got new science and social studies standards. If you're Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke, you got a pink slip. Otherwise, if you slept through the last four months, you didn't miss much.
The push to generate new state gambling revenues appears over for the year after a Senate committee Thursday night rejected or passed over the major casino initiatives. The Senate Taxes committee, however, did approve a plan calling for the governor to discuss an off-reservation casino with any of the state's 11 Indian communities that express an interest. But with only days left in the legislative session, that proposal seems certain to stall. And some tribal representatives are already suggesting it may be unworkable and unwelcome.
Las Vegas-based Caesar's Entertainment has finally shown its Minnesota hand. After months of quiet lobbying, the company Tuesday made a public pitch to lawmakers for a new, private casino. Caesar's officials have their eyes on a site next to the Mall of America in Bloomington -- but legislators from that area are bristling at the idea of a major gambling venue in their backyard. The package is one of several gambling options that are making the rounds at the Capitol in the final week of the regular session.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal to fund new stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings may have suffered a fatal blow on Friday when the $1 billion stadium construction bill was held back in the House Ways and Means committee after members deadlocked over whether to approve it. The setback came moments after a major funding change was added to the bill. The change, the vote, and the approaching legislative deadline make the bill's fate highly uncertain.
- A bill devoting public money toward new Twins
and Vikings stadiums got through the House Taxes Committee on a
15-13 vote Tuesday.
The vote came after five hours of committee deliberation and
amendments that capped the public contribution at just below $1.1
The Northstar commuter rail line linking Minneapolis with its northwestern suburbs has taken a step backward. On Tuesday night, a House committee voted to strip funding for the project from a bill that finances long-term state construction projects. The Northstar line has the support of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and key legislative leaders from both parties. But a group of mainly Republican opponents engineered a miniature revolt by making the opposition an offer it couldn't refuse.
State tax officials have recently noticed a curious trend: corporate profits are up, but corporate tax payments are down. Democrats in the Minnesota Senate say there's a simple reason. Minnesota businesses, they argue, are exploiting loopholes to duck paying their fair share of taxes. But Republicans and the business community say one person's loophole is another's legitimate tax deduction.
On the eve of the April 15 income tax deadline,
state Democratic lawmakers tried to cast rising property tax bills
as a more accurate indication of how Minnesotans' obligations to
government have changed.
The Minnesota Senate completed work on a budget package in a marathon floor session that began Wednesday morning and ended early Thursday. The plan arrived in two pieces: one that erases a $160 million projected deficit and a second that provides more than $40 million for a wide spectrum of new or restored initiatives. The Republican minority criticized DFLers for loading their new spending and policy changes into one comprehensive plan, arguing the process overwhelmed any chance for careful consideration or debate.
The House passed a bill 113-15 Wednesday to
lower the state's drunken driving threshold from 0.10 percent blood
alcohol content to 0.08 percent, but not until 2007.
A plan to build two new stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings has taken another step forward. The bill advanced fairly easily out of the House Government Operations Committee on Monday night without the lengthy debate that has often accompanied stadium discussions. The plan remains a work-in-progress, but critics contend it's not receiving the full scrutiny it deserves.