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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.

A special live broadcast from the State Capitol rotunda in St. Paul on the closing day of the regular session. <i>Midday</i> host Gary Eichten and MPR's Political Editor Mike Mulcahy talk with key legislators. The Legislature's 2003 session adjournment deadline promises to come and go Monday without a completed budget. Only a few of the eight bills that will make up Minnesota's $28.3 billion budget for the next two years are expected to be ready for votes. A special session will be needed to finish the job. ( 05/19/2003)
Conference committees are meeting at the Capitol, now that legislative leaders have agreed to a $28.3 billion budget over the next two years. The agreement was reached less than 12 hours after Senate DFLers abandoned their push to raise taxes to help erase the state's projected $4.2 billion deficit. (05/17/2003)
Monday may be Judgment Day for the much-maligned Profile of Learning education standards. After reaching a late-night deal on a repeal and replacement proposal, a House-Senate committee worked into Saturday morning to polish the compromise plan that would finally do away with the Profile. Committee leaders hope to put it before the full Legislature on Monday. (05/17/2003)
Senate Democrats say they've abandoned their efforts to raise taxes to balance the budget this session. DFL leaders say since Republicans won't budge from their no-tax-increase stance, a prolonged battle will only cause further pain to Minnesotans. Their announcement resolves the biggest debate of the legislative session, but many other details must still be worked out. (05/16/2003)
The recently passed conceal carry handgun law is causing confusion among business owners who don't want guns on their property. The new law says that those businesses will not only have to post signs at their entrances, but will also have to personally notify each person coming through the doors. Businesses like the Mall of America say that's not very practical. Officials in charge of office buildings, hospitals, and college campuses are also worried about what to do. The confusion and concern about the conceal carry law is the topic of an article in this week's edition of <i>The Business Journal</i>. MPR's Cathy Wurzer talks to Scott Smith, the reporter who wrote the article. (05/16/2003)
The lawmaker who successfully pushed for changes in Minnesota's handgun laws acknowledged Friday that a crime she committed as a teenager could keep her from getting a permit. (05/16/2003)
Legislative leaders are still trying to negotiate an overall budget deal. They're saying it's unlikely they'll finish by next Monday's deadline and believe they'll need at least a short special session to complete their work. One of the major differences between Senate DFLers and House Republicans is on the health and human services budget. The two sides are hundreds of millions of dollars apart and differ on several policy issues. ( 05/16/2003)
The Minnesota House has delivered a dramatic setback to plans for expanded nuclear waste storage at Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear facility. Members voted 99-33 Thursday against the additional storage capacity, leaving the issue in legislative limbo with only four days left in the regular legislative session. Xcel officials say without extra storage space, the plant will need to shut down in 2007. But the House plan quickly unraveled just as it approached a final vote. (05/16/2003)
One of the major budget differences between Senate DFLers and House Republicans is the health and human services budget. The two sides are hundreds of millions of dollars apart and differ on several policy issues. The House is proposing cuts to state subsidized health insurance programs and childcare assistance to help balance the budget. Senate DFLers are proposing a cigarette tax increase to offset the proposed cuts. (05/15/2003)
Supporters of early childhood development are making a last ditch effort to fully fund Head Start and other early childhood education programs. Supporters of Ready for K, an early childhood advocacy group, say they're lobbying state lawmakers about the importance of early childhood education funding. The Minnesota House cuts eight million dollars to Head Start and subsidized child care. Governor Pawlenty and Senate DFLers fund the programs at more generous levels. ( 05/15/2003)
Budget talks continue at the Capitol, with five days to go until the end of the legislative session. Legislative leaders say they've made some progress, but a deep divide remains over taxes. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and House Republican leaders say they won't raise state taxes to balance the budget. Senate DFL leaders say it's hard to find middle ground if Republicans won't compromise. (05/14/2003)
At the end of the month a record number of Minnesotans will be able to qualify to carry a concealed weapon. People in Olmsted County are preparing for when the law goes into effect. (05/14/2003)
The state Senate has voted for $1 billion in new taxes. The plan would create a new income tax bracket for the state's wealthiest households and raise the cigarette tax by a dollar per pack. It also increases a statewide levy on business property. ( 05/14/2003)
Lawmakers could soon strike the Profile of Learning from state law, but portions of the controversial graduation standards might live on in some classrooms. The bureaucracy of the Profile has been widely criticized since its launch in 1998. Yet, despite its flaws, many school districts have found the show-what-you-know approach to be an effective way to teach kids. (05/14/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he'll call state lawmakers back for a special session immediately if they don't reach agreement on a state budget by next Monday. Pawlenty and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, say they're concerned that there won't be enough time to finish all of their work even if an overall budget framework is agreed upon soon. (05/13/2003)

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)