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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.

The latest news from the State Capitol on the special Legislative session. ( 05/28/2003)
One week into the special session, the Minnesota House has passed a transportation bill that could put as much as $900 million into road projects over the next four years. The bill would borrow for projects and use an advance of federal money, an approach criticized by Democrats as short-sighted. Senate DFL leaders say they won't take up the transportation bill until the House also passes a capital investment bill. (05/28/2003)
Minnesota's Personal Protection Act takes effect today, making it much easier for people to receive permits to carry handguns. (05/28/2003)
The Legislature's extended stay at the Capitol was extended indefinitely Tuesday when new issues entered the picture and old ones wouldn't fade. By late afternoon, no votes had been taken on major budget issues, and negotiations on a $7.4 billion health and human services bill were still not completed. (05/27/2003)
The bonding bill agreed to by legislative leaders provides money for a new Guthrie Theater and an expansion for the Children's Theatre Company - two flagship playhouses that are basking in recent national attention. (05/27/2003)
Gov. Pawlenty says he's willing to take another look at the concealed carry law to clear up any potential problems. The law requires local sheriffs to issue a handgun permit to almost any law abiding Minnesotan over the age of 21. The Legislature passed the bill earlier this session and within hours, it was signed into law by Gov. Pawlenty. Opponents say the governor and the bill's supporters didn't carefully consider some aspects of the bill. (05/27/2003)
Minnesota lawmakers are hoping they can wrap up the special session Tuesday or Wednesday. Legislators and Governor Pawlenty have reached agreements on three budget bills. Lawmakers still have to vote on a $7.4 billion funding package for nursing homes, welfare and subsidized health insurance. ( 05/27/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders have made a major breakthrough in budget negotations. Negotiators met late Sunday night and into Monday morning to craft agreements on transportation funding, aid payments to local governments, and state borrowing. Lawmakers are expected to tackle the final piece of the puzzle: the health and human services budget. (05/26/2003)
Legislative leaders negotiated into the night Saturday, but didn't reach agreement on the three outstanding budget bills or on a bonding bill. The rest of the Legislature has gone home after sending a nuclear waste storage bill to the governor. (05/25/2003)
Gov. Pawlenty is putting pressure on Senate DFLers to accept his transportation funding package. The Legislature is in the fourth day of the special session and leaders are working to resolve their differences on the three remaining budget bills and a bonding bill. (05/23/2003)
Hopes of a pre-Memorial Day finish to the special legislative session diminished greatly Friday as negotiators struggled to get over their final few humps. Leaders met privately until just before sunrise but left the bargaining table in much the same spot: hung up on budget bills for health and welfare programs, local government aid, transportation and a slate of construction projects worth borrowing for. ( 05/23/2003)
The Minnesota Senate has approved a plan that extends nuclear waste storage at Xcel Energy's Prairie Island plant. The proposal is meant to keep the facility operating through 2014, but has run into objections from environmental advocates. Critics say it lacks a strong commitment to renewable energy alternatives and provides no explicit role for lawmakers in future nuclear waste storage debates. (05/23/2003)
The Legislature is hoping to wrap up the special session by the end of this week. A team of Capitol reporters and experts evaluates the work of the lawmakers. ( 05/23/2003)
Three days into their special session, state lawmakers have passed half of the state budget bills. The House and Senate passed a bill Thursday night that funds education from pre-school through grade 12, as well as some adult education programs. The bill now goes to Gov. Pawlenty. Supporters say they did their best to continue funding the classroom. Opponents say the bill makes significant cuts to early childhood education, special education funding and English as a second language. (05/23/2003)
A daily update of happenings at the Capitol. In this edition: a deal has been struck on the Prairie Island nuclear storage issue, there's no deal yet on a transportation bill, and the way may be clear for 2 a.m. bar closings in Minnesota. (05/22/2003)
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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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