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Session 2003

Session 2003: Public Safety

Most law-abiding, mentally competent adults who pass background checks and undergo training now can get permits to carry concealed weapons. Past law gave discretion to local law enforcement officials in granting the permits, but that law was changed this session. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the bill's sponsors wanted to amend the law to change the notification requirement to allow either sign-posting or verbal notification, but will have to wait until next year. That's because Democrats wanted to reopen the entire bill to debate rather than one provision.

Gov. Pawlenty has appointed a Republican House member and inspector for the Minneapolis Police Department as his public safety commissioner. Pawlenty says Rep. Rich Stanek, R-Maple Grove, has the credentials to handle the job. Stanek has been instrumental in passing tougher crime sentences and getting money for equipment for local police and firefighters. However, Stanek's critics say he has an abrasive personality and they worry about his track record on civil rights. (01/23/2003)
Although the budget is dominating the 2003 session, other issues are certain to resurface. Several bills changing the state's liquor laws will be introduced, and at least one has a good chance of passing. Those who support a lower drunk driving limit say this is the year it could finally pass. They want the legal limit to drop from .10 to .08 blood-alcohol content. Also this session, Minnesota grocers will renew an effort to allow wine sales in grocery stores. (01/21/2003)
The National Eagle Center in Wabasha is one of the many organizations losing money under the Pawlenty Administration's budget-balancing proposal. Tuesday, the governor cut $500,000 allocated towards the center's $1.5 million expansion project. (01/16/2003)
A House committee Tuesday passed a proposal that would indicate foreign visa status on state drivers' licenses. The measure would put the words "status check" on state IDs or drivers licenses belonging to foreign visitors. (01/14/2003)
The Pawlenty administration asked all state agencies on Thursday to freeze all spending that isn't obligated by a state contract. Pawlenty and lawmakers face a projected $4.5 billion budget shortfall over the next two and a half years. About $356 million of that deficit needs to be addressed as soon as possible because it's part of the current two-year budget cycle which ends in June. Administration officials say Pawlenty ordered the spending freeze to keep all of his options open. But several lawmakers say they're concerned that key funding will be cut off. (01/09/2003)
The state's prison population is rising unexpectedly fast and Minnesota will run out of prison beds as soon as July. Department of Corrections officials told lawmakers on a Senate budget panel that new projections have the state's prisoner population increasing so sharply the state could fill two new prisons by 2010. (01/08/2003)
Supporters of a bill that would allow most Minnesota adults to carry concealed handguns believe they have enough votes in the House and Senate for the bill to become law this year. Gun rights advocates say current law isn't fair because law enforcement officials have the right to refuse a permit for no reason. In the meantime, gun control advocates say they'll continue to fight the legislation. (01/07/2003)
Before the opening gavel of the 2003 legislative session, lawmakers were already testing their political messages. House DFLers Tuesday floated a pair of themes linking state assistance to cities and counties with terrorism preparedness. (01/07/2003)
Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty named his longtime friend and colleague, Charlie Weaver, as his chief of staff on Thursday. Pawlenty on Thursday also named Joan Fabian as corrections commissioner, a position previously held by Sheryl Ramstad, whom he appointed as a judge on the Minnesota Tax Court. (01/02/2003)
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Audio Highlights

Gov. Pawlenty inaugural address
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
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