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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.

After two days of a special session, lawmakers have sent just two budget bills to Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The pace is slower than legislative leaders had hoped - and the largest spending bills are still unresolved. One key lawmaker indicated the session could drag on past the self-imposed deadline of the end of the week. ( 05/22/2003)
The conceal and carry law has caused some expected and some unexpected ripples in the state. At least one city and a church are saying the right to carry concealed guns conflicts with current rules. Learn more about the Personal Protection Act. ( 05/22/2003)
The cost of going to a public college in Minnesota will likely go up hundreds of dollars this fall. Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to sign a higher education funding bill that cuts each of the state's public university systems 15 percent. The bill that passed at the end of the regular session provides $10 million more than Pawlenty had proposed. Still, critics say the cuts are short-sighted and will lead to an erosion of quality at the state's colleges. (05/21/2003)
A bill that funds the state courts, public safety and public defense is on its way to Gov. Pawlenty. The Minnesota House passed the bill Wednesday on a 70-to-62 vote. Supporters say the bill is the best they can do in difficult budget times. (05/21/2003)
It's day two of the special legislative session. Lawmakers still lack deals on some key parts of the budget. House Speaker Steve Sviggum says it's imperative that legislators finish before the Memorial Day weekend. We have live updates, and talk with key legislators about how the special session is going. ( 05/21/2003)
After two days of a special session, lawmakers have sent just two budget bills to the governor. The pace is slower than legislative leaders had hoped -- and the largest spending bills are still unresolved. One key lawmaker indicated the session could drag on past the self-imposed deadline of the end of the week. (05/21/2003)
State lawmakers have made only incremental progress towards completing a $4.2 billion deficit-reduction package. Legislators returned to the Capitol on Tuesday to begin a special session meant to resolve business left undone when the regular session ran out the clock Monday night. A state government finance bill is now on its way to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's desk, but at least six other funding measures await final legislative action. (05/21/2003)
The Minnesota Historical Society will close seven of its 27 historical sites and lay off nearly one-third of its staff due to state budget cuts. The society will lose $8 million in state funding over the next two years. The sites, around the state, will be closed to the public, but will still be maintained. (05/20/2003)
An Edina church sued the state Tuesday, asking to have portions of a new handgun permit law declared unconstitutional. Church officials say the law infringes on the Minnesota Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom. (05/20/2003)
The last day of the regular legislative session came and went with only a quarter of the eight major budget bills making it through both the House and Senate. "All six will be a challenge," Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger, DFL-St. Peter, said of those awaiting action. Gov. Tim Pawlenty isn't giving the weary lawmakers time to rest; he ordered a special session to start at 11 a.m. Tuesday. We hear from legislative leaders on the bills that have passed, and the ones that are being negotiated. ( 05/20/2003)
At the end of the regular legislative session, lawmakers passed just a small portion of the state budget. The House and Senate sent two budget bills to the governor, repealed the state's Profile of Learning graduation standards and passed a 2 a.m. bar closing bill. But the final hours of the session were marked by a bitter fight on the Senate floor which prevented a Prairie Island bill from a vote. MPR's Cathy Wurzer discusses the end of the regular session with Gov. Tim Pawlenty. (05/20/2003)
The Profile of Learning as schools and parents have known it is gone. A new set of graduation standards crafted by the House and Senate education leaders and the education department goes to legislators at the very end of the session. ( 05/20/2003)
State lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to strike the Profile of Learning graduation standards from state law. The House and Senate passed compromise legislation Monday night to repeal the controversial show-what-you-know system. The bill also establishes new statewide academic standards for public schools. (05/20/2003)
The Minnesota Legislature's regular session came to a close with a filibuster that blocked final action on expanding nuclear waste storage at Xcel Energy's Prairie Island plant. The power company is seeking to increase waste storage in order to keep the plant operating through the end of its current federal license in 2014. But a handful of Senate Democrats managed to stall action on a measure that they criticized as environmentally unsound. (05/20/2003)
Minnesota lawmakers ended the 2003 session at midnight Monday, after passing just a small portion of the state budget. The House and Senate sent two budget bills to the governor, repealed the state's Profile of Learning graduation standards and passed a 2 a.m. bar closing bill. But the final hours of the session were marked by a bitter fight on the Senate floor which prevented a Prairie Island bill from a vote. (05/20/2003)

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)