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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 Minnesota House is expected to take up a bill passed by the Senate that could extend bar closing to 2a.m. Why has a measure that has failed in the past seem to have legs today and what happens next? ( 05/08/2003)
The Minnesota Legislature has less than two weeks to come up with a budget for the next biennium. Lawmakers are required by law to adjourn the session by May 19, but House Republicans and Senate DFLers are still far apart in their plans to deal with a projected $4.2 billion shortfall. Gov. Pawlenty has been meeting with legislative leaders and says he's sticking by his pledge not to raise state taxes. Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer talked with Gov. Pawlenty. (05/08/2003)
A new analysis of graduation rates, test scores and other public school data shows Minnesota needs to make a lot of improvements to meet new federal education requirements. (05/08/2003)
Minnesota House Republicans say they've made good on their commitment to hold the line on new taxes. The House voted 70-63 Wednesday to approve a tax bill with no state tax increases. That sets GOP lawmakers up against the DFL-controlled Senate, which is contemplating more than $1 billion in income and cigarette tax hikes. The tax battle will be the key to resolving the overall budget debate. (05/07/2003)
Gov. Pawlenty, former governors Quie and Anderson and Vice President Mondale are all attending a tribute dinner for longtime Sen. Roger Moe. Sen. Moe reflects on his decades at the Capitol, reflecting on a career in public service. ( 05/07/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty told House and Senate Republicans Wednesday to stick to their principles and not raise taxes to erase the state's $4.2 billion deficit. "We are at a crossroads in this legislative session," he said during a sort of pep rally before the House went into session for the day. (05/07/2003)
The latest Minnesota Public Radio-St. Paul Pioneer Press Poll shows a slight majority would oppose an increase to the gas tax or their license tab fees to pay for transportation projects. Respondents were split over the condition of the state's roads. Both the House and Senate have passed different transportation funding projects. Gov. Pawlenty and House Republicans say the poll reinforces their decision not to raise taxes to pay for transportation projects. Senate DFLers say the polls show more people support an increase than in previous years. (05/07/2003)
Cities could allow their bars to stay open until 2 a.m., under a bill passed by the Minnesota Senate on Tuesday. The vote is a significant victory for supporters of extending bar hours, which has been debated at the Capitol for years. They say this could be the year a later bar closing is signed into law. (05/06/2003)
Educators throughout Minnesota are fighting this session to preserve funding for summer school and other programs to help struggling students. Gov. Pawlenty's budget proposal eliminates the extra money school districts get for students enrolled in programs outside of the regular school day. House and Senate leaders have taken less drastic positions in their K-12 funding bills, but reductions are still a possibility. (05/06/2003)
With two weeks left in the legislative session, there seems to be little middle ground between Democrats and Republicans. Both sides are pointing to weekend polls to make their case for balancing the budget. Republicans say they won't raise taxes, while DFL leaders say if Republicans won't compromise, a special session is likely. (05/05/2003)
Legislative leaders and the Pawlenty administration discuss the plan to balance the budget and adjourn in two weeks. The tax committees in the House and Senate continued their work on tax bills Friday. The Senate bill includes tax hikes on the top five percent of wage earners, tobacco products and some corporations. The House bill has no tax increases and goes along with Gov. Tim Pawlenty's pledge to balance the state budget without raising taxes. ( 05/05/2003)
Continuing to play good cop to the House's bad, the Senate approved a health and human services spending bill that contains few of the cuts to social service programs in the version passed by the House. The $8.5 billion bill, which also funds prisons, passed early Saturday 38-27. (05/03/2003)
A new poll shows most Minnesotans favor the direction set by Gov. Tim Pawlenty's no-new-taxes approach to budget-balancing. But the survey -- conducted for Minnesota Public Radio and the St. Paul Pioneer Press -- also shows that when confronted with specific alternatives or tax proposals, significant majorities show a willingness to increase state revenues. (05/02/2003)
Hold the phone, park the car and forget about a raise. That's the message the House sends to state workers with a $412 million finance bill that limits government-issued cell phones, reduces the vehicle fleet and freezes employee wages and health benefits for the next two years. It also would curb employees' ability to strike. (05/02/2003)
Minnesota would be far less generous in subsidizing health insurance, helping with child care or giving cash grants to welfare applicants under a $7.1 billion budget bill the House passed early Friday. "The results were tough but fair," said Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester, chairman of the health and human services finance committee. (05/02/2003)
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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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