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Session 2004

Session 2004



The Minnesota Senate Thursday defeated a $950 million package of public works projects. The bill needed 41 votes to pass, but fell two votes short. Most Republicans voted against it, saying the bill is too large. Senate DFL leaders say it's unlikely there will be a bonding bill this session. (05/06/2004)
After more than a week of hearings, a House committee barely approved a bill that would help build new playing homes for the Minnesota Vikings and Twins. A telling pattern emerged with the vote: No lawmakers from communities competing for the stadiums supported the bill while rural members tended to back it. ( 05/05/2004)
The Mille Lacs Grand Casino's new ad campaign makes their casinos look like good, clean places to have a little fun. In today's political environment, that's not a simple message. (05/04/2004)
- A bill devoting public money toward new Twins and Vikings stadiums got through the House Taxes Committee on a 15-13 vote Tuesday. The vote came after five hours of committee deliberation and amendments that capped the public contribution at just below $1.1 billion. (05/04/2004)
Senate DFL leaders Tuesday proposed a nearly $950 million package of capital improvement projects. About $890 million worth of projects would be funded by selling state-backed bonds, so the bill is commonly called the bonding bill. The package is far bigger than a $677 million bonding bill the House passed last week. The two bills could be difficult to reconcile, especially with less than two weeks left in the legislative session. (05/04/2004)
Caesar's Entertainment would like to build a casino near the Mall of America and promises tidy tax revenue for the state. A look at the Caesar's proposal and at the other gambling bills pending this legislative session. ( 05/04/2004)
Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum and DFL Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson talk about the key issues remaining in the session: the bonding bill, constitutional amendments, taxes, the confirmation of commissioners, the ban on same-sex marriage, and more. ( 05/03/2004)
The Minnesota Legislature must adjourn in a little over two weeks, and lawmakers have yet to send Gov. Pawlenty a major piece of legislation. The House and Senate haven't even appointed negotiators to work out differences in budget bills. Legislative leaders say they can still finish their work on time if both sides are willing to compromise, but that may be a big 'if.' (04/30/2004)
The Minnesota House has voted overwhelmingly for a $677 million package of capital improvement projects. About $600 million in projects would be funded by money borrowed through bond sales, so the bill is commonly called the bonding bill. The project that drove the six-hour debate was an item that was removed from the bill earlier this week - the proposed Northstar commuter rail line between Minneapolis and Big Lake. Northstar supporters failed in their attempt to put funding for the line back into the bill. (04/29/2004)
The Senate passed a tax bill on Thursday that returns $60 million in state payments to towns and cities that lost more than twice that amount as part of last session's budget-balancing law. The issue tapped into a well of resentment felt by many rural lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats. (04/29/2004)
Like Minnesota, Wisconsin went through years of contentious negotiations before lawmakers authorized public subsidies for the Milwaukee Brewers three-year-old home, Miller Park. And like Minnesota, supporters there said the small-market team needed the ballpark to stay competitive. It hasn't worked out that way. The team continues to lose more than win and attendance is poor. And ill will lingers over the way the deal came together. (04/29/2004)
Gun rights supporters celebrated the one year anniversary of the passage of the "concealed carry" law at the Capitol Wednesday. The law requires local sheriffs to issue handgun permits to any law abiding adult. But requests for permits have fallen far short of the 50,000 projected by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The BCA says 15,677 permits were issued from late May until December 2003. Opponents say the law is still dangerous, no matter how many permits have been issued. (04/28/2004)
State Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke says she'll be back at work as usual on Wednesday, even though a key legislative panel wants her removed from the job she's held for over a year. Members of the DFL-controlled Senate Education Committee voted on a 6-to-4 party-line vote Tuesday to reject Yecke's confirmation as commissioner. The recommendation now goes to the full Senate. (04/28/2004)
The Northstar commuter rail line linking Minneapolis with its northwestern suburbs has taken a step backward. On Tuesday night, a House committee voted to strip funding for the project from a bill that finances long-term state construction projects. The Northstar line has the support of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and key legislative leaders from both parties. But a group of mainly Republican opponents engineered a miniature revolt by making the opposition an offer it couldn't refuse. (04/28/2004)
The confirmation hearing for Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke resumes today. Host Gary Eichten and his guests preview the hearing and hear comments and questions from MPR listeners. ( 04/27/2004)

Video from the Capitol

Audio Live House video
(Windows Media)
Audio Live Senate video
(RealPlayer)
All times approximate and subject to change.

Audio Highlights

Audio How K-12 education fared in the session
Rep. Barb Sykora, chair of the House Education Policy Committee, and Sen. Steve Kelley, chair of the Senate Education Committee discuss education issues that were debated this session. (Midday - 5/20/04)
Audio The governor's point man
Gov. Pawlenty's chief of staff, Dan McElroy, discusses what's next in the wake of the legislative session ( Midday - 5/18/04)
Audio The effect of the U of M
University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks ( Midmorning - 5/18/04)
Audio Sviggum and Johnson square off
House Speaker Steve Sviggum and Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson exchange barbs as the session ends ( Midday - 5/14/04)
Audio The governor's view
Gov. Tim Pawlenty reacts to the end of the legislative session and the ousting of his education commissioner.
( 5/17/04)
Audio The gay marriage debate
Ann DeGroot, executive director of OutFront Minnesota; Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council. ( Midday - 3/9/04)
Audio Health care task force makes recommendations
Dave Durenberger, head of the Minnesota Citizens Forum on Health Care Costs ( Midday- 2/24/04)
Audio

State of the State (2/5/04)
Gov. Pawlenty's address to a joint session of the Legislature