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Session 2004

Session 2004

Governor Pawlenty's budget increases the funding for public schools. It also proposes that teachers receive raises based on merit rather than seniority. Midmorning asks educators across the state about funding issues in their districts. ( 01/27/2005)
On college campuses across Minnesota, much of the political focus has been on the presidential election. That race may be overshadowing student awareness of another big contest this year -- every seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives is up for grabs. During a student-sponsored debate Tuesday night at the University of Minnesota, House leaders gave about 70 students a taste of the priorities for state Republicans and DFLers this election season. (10/13/2004)
Education funding is heating up as a campaign issue across Minnesota. Nearly one-fifth of the state's school districts will ask local voters this fall to provide additional tax support. And educators are pressuring state lawmakers, many of whom are up for re-election, to increase funding for public schools in the 2005 legislative session. Suburban business leaders and education officials met Wednesday at a Bloomington hotel to try to add some clarity to a complicated debate. (09/22/2004)
Sen. Dick Day, R-Owatonna, says he'll step aside as Senate minority leader in November. Day says he wasn't under any pressure to give up his leadership job, and he has no plans to leave the Senate entirely. He has served as the Republicans' Senate leader since 1997. (09/17/2004)
Republican and DFL legislative leaders held the first in a series of statewide debates Wednesday in an effort to influence the make-up of the state House next year. Currently, the GOP holds a comfortable 81-53 seat majority in the House. But Democrats say they're eager to trim that lead or even recapture the majority. The election outcome will be a key factor in how the state addresses a potential budget shortfall of up to $1 billion. (09/01/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty Tuesday announced a plan to kick-start the Northstar commuter rail line, a project that hasn't received legislative approval. Pawlenty plans to use several sources of money to begin the first phase of the project. Northstar supporters are thrilled, but legislators who oppose the project say Pawlenty is doing an end-run around the Legislature. (08/03/2004)
Four people on Minnesota's low-income Medical Assistance program on Monday filed what they intend to be a class-action lawsuit, alleging a 2003 law requiring them to pay co-payments for medication and doctors' visits violates federal Medicaid law. (07/26/2004)
Mayors from across Minnesota say time is running out for Gov. Tim Pawlenty and lawmakers to correct an error that's left most cities guessing about how much state aid they'll receive next year. A technical glitch has created confusion over how to interpret the aid law -- and city officials say that could lead to budget headaches and unnecessary property tax hikes. Lawmakers and the governor all agreed the law is defective -- but disagree over how and when to call a special session to fix the problem. (07/14/2004)
The Minnesota legislature adjourned this session without addressing many of its major bonding and policy initiatives. Now the DFL and the Republicans seem to be at loggerheads over what bills would be on the table should they go into a special session. Senate DFLers claim that the Governor and Republican leaders are holding a special session hostage to the single issue of same-sex marriage. Republicans say Democrats want to dredge up proposals that have already been rejected rather than focus on items both sides can agree on. Neither side has given up, yet, but they also haven't found a way to resolve their differences. ( 06/09/2004)
DFL Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson is expected to announce Tuesday whether the Senate will agree to a special session, under terms worked out with Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum and Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The three sides have discussed an agenda that would include fixing a budget shortfall, and passing a bonding bill that borrows money for state construction projects. The agenda would be brought up in a specific order to prevent a vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Senate Republicans are upset about not being included in the agenda setting process, and even though they are in the minority, they do have leverage. Some of their votes are needed to pass the bonding bill, which requires a three-fifths majority in each chamber. <I>Morning Edition</I> host Cathy Wurzer spoke with Republican Senate Minority Leader Dick Day. (06/08/2004)
State lawmakers are receiving overwhelmingly poor marks in a new poll that looks back to this year's do-little legislative session. Lawmakers adjourned last month after failing to reach consensus on most of the year's main issues. The survey was conducted for Minnesota Public Radio and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It shows wide dissatisfaction with lawmakers and a willingness to spread the blame widely. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, however, seems to have escaped much of the rancor. (06/02/2004)
Minneapolis school district officials say the state Legislature's failure to pass an education finance bill this year has forced them to cut back a popular preschool program. (05/31/2004)
The Minnesota Department of Human Services will require many low-income people who have AIDS or who are HIV positive to start paying more for their health care and drug coverage. DHS officials say the AIDS Drug Assistance Program is expected to run a significant deficit in the next year. They say the changes are needed to provide coverage to as many cases as possible. Critics say the changes are unreasonable since they come on the heels of significant budget cuts to HIV and other publicly subsidized health insurance programs. (05/27/2004)
Controversy over same-sex marriage threatens to scuttle chances for a special legislative session to address this year's many unresolved budget and policy issues. Lawmakers adjourned their regular session earlier this month without taking action on reducing the state's projected deficit, making infrastructure improvements, or enhancing public safety. While many lawmakers say they'd like a second chance to address those matters, Gov. Tim Pawlenty says they could all be lost in the argument over gay marriage. (05/25/2004)
New Brighton city officials and the Pawlenty administration say legislative inaction has complicated efforts to convince Medtronic to expand in New Brighton. Both the city and state are working to encourage the medical device company to expand its operations in the North Metro area. City officials and several state lawmakers say the deal is important enough that the governor should call a special session to resolve the situation. (05/20/2004)

Video from the Capitol

Audio Live House video
(Windows Media)
Audio Live Senate video
All times approximate and subject to change.

Audio Highlights

Audio How K-12 education fared in the session
Rep. Barb Sykora, chair of the House Education Policy Committee, and Sen. Steve Kelley, chair of the Senate Education Committee discuss education issues that were debated this session. (Midday - 5/20/04)
Audio The governor's point man
Gov. Pawlenty's chief of staff, Dan McElroy, discusses what's next in the wake of the legislative session ( Midday - 5/18/04)
Audio The effect of the U of M
University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks ( Midmorning - 5/18/04)
Audio Sviggum and Johnson square off
House Speaker Steve Sviggum and Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson exchange barbs as the session ends ( Midday - 5/14/04)
Audio The governor's view
Gov. Tim Pawlenty reacts to the end of the legislative session and the ousting of his education commissioner.
( 5/17/04)
Audio The gay marriage debate
Ann DeGroot, executive director of OutFront Minnesota; Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council. ( Midday - 3/9/04)
Audio Health care task force makes recommendations
Dave Durenberger, head of the Minnesota Citizens Forum on Health Care Costs ( Midday- 2/24/04)

State of the State (2/5/04)
Gov. Pawlenty's address to a joint session of the Legislature