Michael Khoo Feature Archive

A plan to reintroduce the death penalty in Minnesota was derailed on Wednesday when a Senate committee overwhelmingly voted to reject the proposal. The bill was modeled on an capital punishment proposal outlined by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The governor broached the subject last fall, in response to reports that a convicted Minnesota sex offender was suspected in the apparent abduction of college student Dru Sjodin. But now, Pawlenty says the proposal appears defeated for the year. (03/24/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's stadium proposal has begun its journey through an uncertain legislative process, clearing its first committee hearing late Tuesday night. The House Local Government and Metropolitan Affairs Committee voted to advance the package to its next stop, but declined to give its full endorsement. And pointed questions by committee members indicate the plan will face many obstacles along its path. (03/24/2004)
Gov. Pawlenty's proposal to build two new stadiums for the Twins and the Vikings will have its first legislative hearing before a House committee on Tuesday afternoon. The teams, their lobbyists, and their assorted allies will be there to present their case. But so will the opponents. And while their numbers may have dwindled, those opponents have essentially won each of the previous rounds. (03/23/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday presented a plan for new Twins and Vikings stadiums that would require team owners to pay about one-third of the project cost. Pawlenty's plan would authorize local governments to raise restaurant and lodging taxes. (03/15/2004)
Lawmakers have had a week to digest Gov. Tim Pawlenty's $160 million deficit-reduction plan, but few seem inclined to endorse it. Republican and Democratic lawmakers are finding it difficult to accept the governor's reductions in health care spending, and both sides of the aisle are floating alternative concepts. But Pawlenty, in turn, is unlikely to approve of what's percolating at the Legislature. (03/12/2004)
Two Republican lawmakers say the state should outlaw video slot machines statewide unless the state's Native American tribes agree to share a portion of their casino revenues. Indian tribes are reacting negatively, calling the plan a form of legislative blackmail. (03/03/2004)
Buoyed by the wind of 18 wins in 20 contests, John Kerry sailed into Minnesota on Wednesday even as his opponents focused on sinking his ship. (02/26/2004)
A report from the Legislative Auditor's office criticizes the Minnesota Lottery for mismanagement and inefficiency. It recommends tighter controls over the agency's management. The evaluation also questions the lottery's relationship with the St. Paul-based public relations firm Media Rare. The findings come three weeks after Lottery Director George Andersen committed suicide. (02/19/2004)
The push for tougher drunk-driving laws at the Capitol may have hit a snag. The Senate last week overwhelmingly passed a bill that would lower the blood-alcohol threshold from the current .10 to .08. But leaders in the House say the lower standard could present a hardship to the cities and counties that would be charged with enforcing it. They say they'd prefer to delay the tighter standard for another three years. (02/16/2004)
Gov. Pawlenty in his speech Thursday called for a re-examination of the 15-year-old gaming compacts that authorize the state's 11 American Indian tribes to operate casinos. The governor has long been an opponent of sanctioning new gambling facilities, but he's suggesting that a "better deal" could be negotiated with the tribes based on their current operations, perhaps one that requires them to share a portion of their gaming revenues with the state. (02/05/2004)
A new poll shows Minnesotans evenly divided over Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plan to re-introduce the state death penalty. But the same poll also shows Minnesotans are fairly unified in their desire to crack down on the state's sexual offenders. (02/04/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty is asking legislators to let Minnesota voters decide whether the state should re-introduce capital punishment in certain murder cases. Pawlenty first floated the idea after a repeat Minnesota sex offender was connected to the disappearance of college student Dru Sjodin. Pawlenty says, with proper safeguards, the death penalty would provide an ultimate punishment for the state's worst offenders. Opponents say the governor is moving the state in the wrong direction. (01/27/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Stadium Screening Committee has pared a list of competing proposals down to four contenders: two each for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. As expected, committee members selected locations in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul as possible sites for a Twins ballpark. Blaine and Eden Prairie are the two possibilities for the Vikings. But other crucial parameters, such as how the state might assist ballpark financing, remain controversial. And state officials and the two teams clearly disagree about how to proceed on that front. (01/22/2004)
As policymakers and state officials pore over the details of 26 stadium ideas submitted Thursday, one thread emerges bright and clear -- aside from the plans that call for new gambling revenues, all the major proposals rely heavily on increased tax dollars to build new homes for the Twins and Vikings. And, as in past years, convincing lawmakers, citizens, and businesses to accept new taxes won't be an easy sell. (01/16/2004)
More than two dozen cities, counties, and private citizens have pitched their ballpark solutions to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Stadium Screening Committee. The governor solicited outside input to help him decide what role -- if any -- the state might play in financing new facilities for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. The plans cover a range of sites across the metropolitan area, and offer funding options from local taxes to state dollars to casino revenues. (01/16/2004)