State lawmakers begin the second week of the 2014 session today with a $1.2 billion budget surplus to work with.
In addition, some legislative committees are set to discuss tax cuts, medical marijuana and a minimum wage increase.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is running for a second term this year, and he wants legislators to pass tax cuts quickly. He set a March 14 deadline to help Minnesota tax filers get more deductions and exemptions, and to prevent a warehousing tax from taking effect on April 1.
"The story about the Minnesota economy at the moment is that we're continuing to make solid gains," said State Economist Laura Kalambokidis after the state budget forecast was released today.
The fast-moving House bill would make state tax law conform to recent federal changes. It would also repeal three business sales taxes that were passed last session.
A propane fuel shortage this winter, combined with the relatively late start of the legislative session, prompted lawmakers to take some extra quick action.
Minnesota lawmakers return to the Capitol Tuesday for the start of an election-year legislative session, and much of their early attention will be on a minimum wage increase and taxes.
Zellers is one of six GOP candidates trying to unseat DFL incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton this fall. He plans to run in the August primary.
Supporters of Legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota are considering a new approach for the 2014 session, and the potential changes are winning the backing of some law enforcement groups.
The issue is a leftover from last year's session, when DFL legislative leaders couldn't reach a compromise before they adjourned. The House had passed a bill to increase the hourly rate to $9.50, while the Senate passed a $7.75 measure.
Lawmakers have been talking about the need for a healthier reserve since the November economic forecast showed the state headed for an $825 million budget surplus. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he wants much of the surplus used to repeal three business taxes passed last session.
Dayton's proposal follows a report this week from Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid that showed 46 Minnesota school districts have policies to deny lunches to students who can't pay.
GOP officials conducted nonbinding straw polls Tuesday night during precinct caucuses. Those neighborhood meetings are the starting point for parties to endorse candidates. But this year several GOP candidates in both contests have said they plan to run in the August primary, with or without the party endorsement.
With the start of an election year legislative session just three weeks away, the leaders in the Minnesota House debated a proposed minimum wage increase and other issues at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School on Monday.
A new legislative report is proposing an enhanced role for the state Board of Pharmacy to help combat synthetic drug problems.
Dayton was scheduled to leave Friday and meet with NFL officials. But Dayton's office announced this afternoon that he will remain in Minnesota for an emergency meeting of state's Executive Council on Friday afternoon.