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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.

Minnesota's education commissioner hosted the first in a series of public meetings on proposed changes to K-12 academic standards Thursday night in Winona. If approved by lawmakers this session, the new standards will replace the current Profile of Learning. (03/14/2003)
More than 1,000 public employees converged on the state Capitol Thursday to demonstrate against proposed budget cuts and a plan to freeze public sector pay. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has fashioned a $4.2 billion deficit reduction package that relies heavily on spending reductions, and offers no new tax increases. Pawlenty has also proposed a wage freeze that would extend from state employees down to the city, county, and school district level. (03/13/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has released a plan to reorganize state government. Pawlenty is using his executive authority to eliminate the state planning agency and shift duties for five other agencies. The shuffling includes transferring a crime victim ombudsman into the Department of Public Safety, a move strongly opposed by the ombudsman. (03/13/2003)
A national survey on employers and health insurance coverage released Thursday is from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other organizations. We look at the healthcare system, healthcare reform, and the number of uninsured Americans today. Many business leaders say that the number of uninsured will rise in the coming months. March 10th through 16th is "Cover the Uninsured Week". ( 03/13/2003)
In a moment worthy of a courtroom drama, Attorney General Mike Hatch on Wednesday flatly disputed the state commerce commissioner's testimony that he was unaware of a political contribution to Gov. Tim Pawlenty when the department settled charges against a Florida insurance company for less than once hoped. (03/12/2003)
Income tax preparers, political contributors and candidates, public broadcasters and health maintenance organizations are among those pinched by a revised budget plan released Wednesday. Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration detailed $148.5 million in additional spending cuts, increased fees and accounting shifts. He's recommending the moves to deal with a bigger projected deficit through mid-2005 and to further stock state reserves. (03/12/2003)
Minnesota went from record budget surplus under Gov. Jesse Ventura to record budget shortfall under new Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a few years. How did it happen? (03/12/2003)
Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum says he'll expedite an ethics hearing on Republican Arlon Lindner. House DFLers filed a complaint against the Corcoran Republican for allegedly making inappropriate comments about homosexuals and African Americans. They say Lindner's comments have harmed the reputation of the Minnesota House. Sviggum says the Republican caucus also denounces the comments but says he's not sure if the comments rise to an ethics violation. (03/11/2003)
The Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned rules Tuesday that allowed law enforcement to track foreign visitors through special driver's license markings. (03/11/2003)
A citizens panel on school standards wants Minnesota first graders to be able to rhyme words and count up to 120. Education commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke and representatives of the Minnesota Academic Standards Committee appeared at two legislative hearings today to recommend grade-by-grade expectations in reading and math. (03/11/2003)
Some vulnerable seniors in Minnesota would feel the pinch of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed budget cuts. Pawlenty's plan to fix the state's $4.2 billion budget deficit includes elimination of state funding for a number of senior services, including the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs. (03/11/2003)
A Democrat-led Senate committee on Monday began the first of what could be competing inquiries into whether the Commerce Department's handling of a $2 million settlement with a Florida insurance company was affected by a campaign contribution. At issue is whether the recent settlement with American Bankers Insurance Co. was lowered from a proposed $3.5 million fine that was discussed, but never finalized, under Gov. Jesse Ventura's administration. (03/10/2003)
Religious leaders and Democrats joined a survivor of the Holocaust in condemning Republican Rep. Arlon Lindner for remarks he made last week questioning whether homosexuals were persecuted by the Nazis. (03/10/2003)
University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks told lawmakers he worries that budget cuts and tuition hikes may drive off top students and faculty. Bruininks, speaking to the House Higher Education Finance Committee on Wednesday, said if Gov. Tim Pawlenty's 2004-05 budget proposal holds, Minnesota could see a "brain drain" of talented students to other states. The governor is proposing $197.9 million in budget cuts to the university over two years, according to university calculations, potentially pushing medical school tuition "over market rates," Bruininks said. ( 03/10/2003)
County commissioners and other local leaders are looking for ways to cope with the funding cuts in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget. The governor's spending plan calls for cuts in many programs to fill a $4.2 billion shortfall. As debate over the proposal heats up, some officials are questioning the long-term affects, especially in social programs. (03/10/2003)
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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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