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Session 2003

Session 2003



SESSION UPDATE
Gov. Tim Pawlenty took office promising to drive change "in a hundred places and a thousand ways." He may have underestimated his reach. At session's end, five months into office, the young governor finds himself with much - most - of an aggressive reform agenda becoming law.

Among his victories were wins on plans to change welfare, to establish tax-free industrial zones, to rewrite classroom graduation standards and to close a yawning deficit without raising state taxes.

Under Pawlenty, gun permits will be more accessible and abortions will be somewhat less accessible. Bar hours will be later, but there will be extra troopers on the road when they let out, and schools will be required to lead most students in the Pledge of Allegiance at least once a week.

His reach stretched from southwestern Minnesota's wind-rich fields, which will see more energy-producing turbines, to the Iron Range, which has a good chance for seeing a new coal plant and new tax-free zones.

The question presents itself, though: With a reach so vast, did he overreach? As Democrats adjourned their special session on Thursday, they were convinced he did.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he doesn't want his term to be defined by the state's financial crisis. Pawlenty recently completed his first 100 days in office. He says despite the deficit, he's laid out a reform agenda focusing on education, economic development and transportation. But critics say Pawlenty's budget proposal contains little reform, and the governor's no-tax-increase pledge will reverse the gains Minnesota has made in recent years. (04/27/2003)
The Minnesota House has passed a bill that would allow Canterbury Park horse track in Shakopee to add 2,000 slot machines to the facility. The House voted 71-to-60 in favor of the bill. Lawmakers made one significant change to the bill. The "Racino" would not be built if Native American tribes agree to give a portion of gross gambling receipts to the state and agree not to expand gambling. Opponents say the bill will create more social problems and take casino jobs away from rural Minnesota. (04/25/2003)
Opponents of a bill that would change the state's handgun permitting laws have conceded they can't stop permits from becoming easier to get. Supporters of the bill have been lobbying to change current law for seven years because they say local law enforcement has too much authority in denying permits. (04/24/2003)
In the next couple of years, Minnesotans could be paying tolls to use certain metropolitan highway lanes. State and federal lawmakers are considering plans to charge lane fees to relieve congestion and fund new road projects. The proposal is part of a mix of highway development and financing plans announced by Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration and legislators from both parties. (04/24/2003)
An ethics complaint against Rep. Arlon Lindner died Thursday following a 2-2 tie vote in the House Ethics Committee that followed party lines. At issue was whether there was probable cause to discipline the Corcoran Republican for remarks he made on the House floor and in newspaper interviews questioning whether, or the extent to which, homosexuals were persecuted during the Nazi Holocaust. (04/24/2003)
The Minnesota House has voted in favor of a bill that would change Minnesota's handgun-permitting process. House leadership used a parliamentary maneuver to force the Senate to vote on the bill. Supporters want to make changes to current law because they say local law enforcement has too much discretion over who receives a permit to carry a handgun. Opponents say the bill would allow almost any Minnesotan over the age of 21 to carry a firearm and would make the state more dangerous. (04/23/2003)
Macalester College in St. Paul officially flipped the switch Wednesday on a 10-kilowatt wind turbine that will feed electricity directly into the college's power grid. The Macalester turbine is one of only a handful of urban wind turbines nationwide. (04/23/2003)
When Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau took on the job of leading the transportation department, she set out to reshape the department and the way it does business. Find out what's in store for roads and mass transit. ( 04/23/2003)
Senate DFLers today are proposing increasing the state gas tax and license tab fees to funnel additional money into road projects and mass transit. The plan amounts to roughly twice the transportation funding favored by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and House Republicans. It also runs afoul of Pawlenty's pledge not to raise state taxes during his time in office. But supporters say the state's transportation needs demand new revenue, and they say they're hopeful the governor and his GOP allies can be persuaded. (04/22/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty is adamant the budget should be balanced without raising taxes. Pawlenty campaigned heavily on a no-new-tax pledge that was originally promoted by the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. In just a few years, Taxpayers League has become a major force in Minnesota politics. ( 04/22/2003)
Minnesota lawmakers are back at the Capitol after a break for the Easter-Passover holiday. The state constitution says legislators must finish their work by May 19, and there's still a lot of work to do. At the top of the agenda is agreeing on a new state budget, in the face of a projected $4.2 billion shortfall. Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer spoke with two leaders who will be heavily involved in negotiations in the next month, Republican House Speaker Steve Swiggum, and DFL Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger. (04/22/2003)
A controversial bill regulating off-highway vehicles on state lands gets a hearing in a Minnesota Senate committee Tuesday. All-terrain vehicle groups oppose the bill. They say it would limit their access to state forests. Environmentalists say ATVs are causing major damage to state lands. They say the Senate bill protects the land. (04/22/2003)
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is backing a proposal to let hunters in Minnesota use dogs to pursue black bears. The Legislature is considering it. The plan has friends and foes. (04/22/2003)
In just five and a half years, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota has become a major political force in Minnesota. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is one the main supporters of the league and its no new taxes theme. Critics, many of them DFLers, accuse the league of misrepresenting the tax debate. (04/21/2003)
The Minnesota House is expected to debate a bill later this week that would allow almost any Minnesotan over the age of 21 without a criminal background to carry a handgun. Officials at schools around the state say they're concerned the bill would allow more guns at or near schools and colleges. They say if lawmakers pass the bill they should make it clear that even people with handgun permits should keep guns away from schools. (04/21/2003)

Audio Highlights

Pawlenty's session postscript (6/4/03)
The governor discusses the budget and the session during a speech to the Society of Professional Journalists' meeting in Minneapolis
Political scientist Larry Jacobs (5/30/03)
Provides a review of the 2003 session.
Sen. John Hottinger (5/30/03)
Senate majority leader summarizes the session
Sen. Dick Day (5/30/03)
Senate minority leader summarizes the session
The human services budget
Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services and Corrections Budget Division; and Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester, chair of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee (5/16/03)
The view from former governors (5/13/03)
Former governors Arne Carlson, Wendell Anderson, Elmer L. Andersen and Al Quie give free advice to Gov. Pawlenty
Political scientist Larry Jacobs (5/5/03)
A look at recent polls
Pawlenty's budget message (2/18/03)
Issues budget in attempt to close deficit
Gov. Pawlenty announces "unallotment" cuts Takes action after legislators fail to make a deal (2/7/03)
Gov. Pawlenty's State of the State address (2/6/03)
Pawlenty outlines his vision for Minnesota.
Gov. Pawlenty inaugural address (1/6/03)