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Session 2004

Session 2004

The debate over gay marriage is intensifying. President Bush supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions. The issue is also brewing in at least 35 legislatures, including Minnesota. The backlash is surprising to one Minnesota couple who recently married in San Francisco. (02/26/2004)
A group of lawmakers is asking the state transportation department to slow down its plans to authorize new toll lanes on some Minnesota roads. The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Tuesday invited companies to comment on how privately-built toll lanes might work, but legislators say the agency is moving to quickly. (02/24/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty says federal concerns won't prompt him to shut down a state Web site that provides consumer information on Canadian pharmacies. The Food and Drug Administration sent Pawlenty a letter Monday calling the Web site "unsafe, unsound and ill-considered." Attorney General Mike Hatch says the FDA doesn't have any grounds for legal action against the Web site. (02/24/2004)
Gov. Pawlenty's health care task force has recommended adding a dollar per pack tax on cigarettes to pay for expanding health insurance coverage in the state. The tobacco tax is part of a broader plan that would try to both punish and cajole people into leading healthier lives. It would also try to focus attention on keeping people healthy as well as treating those who are already sick. ( 02/24/2004)
Several Minnesota state lawmakers want to ban smoking in all public buildings. They say the proposal would help prevent illnesses caused by inhaling second hand smoke. They also say it would allow patrons and employees at night clubs, bars and restaurants to breathe smoke-free air. ( 02/24/2004)
A health care task force appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty recommends adding a dollar per pack tax on cigarettes to pay for expanding health insurance coverage in the state. (02/23/2004)
Minnesota grocers are attempting to resurrect a proposal that would allow them to sell wine in their stores. The "Wine With Dinner" bill would make it easier for customers to do all of their shopping in just one stop. The bill has gone nowhere in the past three legislative sessions because of strong opposition from the liquor industry and public health groups. (02/20/2004)
Several DFL lawmakers have unveiled a plan to ban smoking in all public buildings in Minnesota, including bars an restaurants. They say the ban would help reduce smoking-related illnesses and boost business. Critics say the bill is unfair because state government should not impose additional regulations on businesses. (02/19/2004)
A report from the Legislative Auditor's office criticizes the Minnesota Lottery for mismanagement and inefficiency. It recommends tighter controls over the agency's management. The evaluation also questions the lottery's relationship with the St. Paul-based public relations firm Media Rare. The findings come three weeks after Lottery Director George Andersen committed suicide. (02/19/2004)
The nation's top education official says he thinks few states will follow through on recent threats to bail out on the federal No Child Left Behind law. U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige was in St. Paul Tuesday, meeting with small groups of school leaders and policymakers to discuss the law's school accountability and testing rules. The visit came one day after a state Senate committee gave its preliminary approval to a bill that would cut state ties with the law, and forfeit millions of dollars in federal aid. (02/18/2004)
The latest revision of proposed social studies standards for Minnesota public schools contains fewer errors but no less controversy than previous versions. Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke presented a third draft of the grade-by-grade requirements on Tuesday to members of the House Education Policy Committee. (02/17/2004)
A revolt against federal education law is brewing at the state Capitol. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 brought tough new accountability measures to schools and expanded student testing requirements. But several state lawmakers in both political parties are growing frustrated with what they view as an unfunded and intrusive mandate. The Senate Education Committee will take up two bills Tuesday that express that frustration. (02/17/2004)
The push for tougher drunk-driving laws at the Capitol may have hit a snag. The Senate last week overwhelmingly passed a bill that would lower the blood-alcohol threshold from the current .10 to .08. But leaders in the House say the lower standard could present a hardship to the cities and counties that would be charged with enforcing it. They say they'd prefer to delay the tighter standard for another three years. (02/16/2004)
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, are Gary Eichten's guests to discuss the gay marriage issue in Minnesota. Bachmann supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and Dibble opposes it. ( 02/12/2004)
The Minnesota Senate Thursday voted to lower the state's drunk driving limit. Minnesota is one of just three states in the country that does not have a drunk driving standard of .08 blood-alcohol content. The Legislature has debated the lower limit for years, and many observers think this year, it will finally become law. (02/12/2004)

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