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Session 2003

Session 2003

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 proposal for a state-run casino in the Twin Cities has divided Native American communities. The package is supported by the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, who stand to share in millions of dollars of gambling revenues. But the state's other nine tribes say a new casino will eat into revenues they currently generate with their own gaming operations. The bill also faces opposition from lawmakers who say the state has no business in the gambling industry. (03/25/2003)
A bill requiring children to regularly recite the Pledge of Allegiance - a measure some thought would be bolstered by war - got caught up in political bickering and maneuvering Monday in the Minnesota House. The House voted 113-19 to approve the bill, but a decision to marry the pledge measure with a move to repeal the Profile of Learning graduation standards puts the bill's ultimate passage in doubt. (03/25/2003)
A proposal to remove protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Minnesotans from discrimination was put on hold indefinitely Friday by the bill's sponsor. "It won't come back up this session," conceded Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel. (03/21/2003)
The Minnesota Department of Health is withdrawing proposed rules that would clearly explain to the public their collection of health care billing records. Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dianne Mandernach said concerns raised by citizens and lawmakers prompted the decision, but added that the department would continue to study the issue. (03/21/2003)
A bill to expand the storage of spent nuclear fuel at the Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear plant has cleared its first legislative hurdle. On Wednesday the House Regulated Industries Committee approved the measure on a 13-7 party-line vote, with Republicans in support. Xcel says without the additional capacity, the plan will be forced to shut down in 2007, depriving the state of a major source of electricity. But environmental advocates say the company should be weaned from a reliance on nuclear power and be required to develop renewable energy alternatives. (03/20/2003)
Minnesota's emergency operations center has opened with the first U.S. airstrikes against Iraq. Governor Pawlenty says there are no known specific threats against Minnesota. But he says the state is taking steps to make sure it's doing all it can to prevent and respond to terrorist threats, if necessary. Pawlenty is also hearing support and criticism of his proposed budget plan and the no-new-tax pledge he signed during his campaign for governor. He talks about current events and state news, and answers questions from MPR listeners. ( 03/20/2003)
Minnesotans behind Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget plan gave him a hero's welcome Wednesday at a Capitol rally. A few hundred people attended the event, dubbed Taxpayer Day at the Capitol, and gave Pawlenty's no-tax-increase budget a strong endorsement. (03/19/2003)
The Prairie Island Indian Community reached a tentative agreement Monday with Xcel Energy for additional nuclear waste storage at Xcel's Prairie Island nuclear plant, pending approval by the Minnesota Legislature. (03/18/2003)
Two months into his term, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has already dealt with several political landmines. He has asked one of his commissioners to resign, another one may have trouble getting confirmed, and his administration was accused of nepotism for hiring the husband of yet another commissioner. All that while the governor has been putting together a budget to erase a projected $4.2 billion deficit. (03/17/2003)
Minnesota's handgun laws could undergo significant change this year. If passed the Personal Protection Bill would streamline the process for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon. (03/17/2003)
The leader of the Republican House majority is cool to features of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget that are touted as safeguards against soaring local property taxes. House Speaker Steve Sviggum said Monday that he won't back a directive that would freeze wages of public employees at the local government and school district levels. And he said he is uncomfortable with so-called levy limits that would cap property tax increases imposed by county and city officials. (03/17/2003)
The gun control debate at the state Capitol took several twists on Monday. Supporters of legislation to broaden the availability of firearm permits charged Senate DFL leaders with trying to sabotage their efforts by manipulating the committee process. But top Democrats say they're simply trying to encourage multiple viewpoints in order to refine the various proposals. (03/17/2003)
The latest on the major issues of the legislative session. The state of Minnesota is scrounging around for money, and looking at various plans to get back into the black. Possibilities range from closing rest stops to freezing the wages of state employees. We look at current issues facing the Minnesota state legislature. ( 03/17/2003)
University of Minnesota officials say their plan for solving a $200 million loss in state funding will include tuition increases, wage freezes and program cuts. U of M President Robert Bruininks outlined a budget strategy Friday for the Board of Regents that includes another double-digit jump in the cost of an undergraduate education. (03/14/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has released a five-year transportation package that he says will jumpstart road and bridge projects across the state. The plan relies on borrowing $550 million for highway construction and seeks an equal amount in advance funds from the federal government. Critics say the plan is shortsighted and makes almost no allowances for public transit. (03/14/2003)
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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)
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