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Session 2004

Session 2004

University of Minnesota officials urged lawmakers Tuesday to fully fund the U's $156 million bonding request. Gov. Pawlenty has recommended borrowing about half that amount for university construction projects. An impassioned university president took members of the House Finance committee on a campus tour to make the point that the governor's proposal isn't enough to maintain the university, let alone move it forward. (02/03/2004)
A new MPR-Pioneer Press poll shows more than half of Minnesotans give Gov. Tim Pawlenty's job performance high marks. The numbers are higher than a similar poll conducted nearly a year ago. The poll also shows Minnesotans are divided about the budget fix approved last year to plug a record $4.2 billion budget gap. (02/03/2004)
The legislative session that began Monday may determine the fate of the proposed Northstar commuter rail service. Under the latest version of the plan, commuter rail cars would carry riders about 40 miles from Big Lake, north of the Twin Cities, to downtown Minneapolis. Supporters say the line is needed to relieve congestion on Highway 10 in one of the state's fastest growing corridors. Opponents acknowledge the corridor's rapid growth, but they say numbers used to support a commuter rail line don't add up. (02/03/2004)
A live broadcast from the Capitol in St. Paul. Host Gary Eichten and Minnesota Public Radio's Mike Mulcahy discuss the upcoming year with Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other lawmakers. ( 02/02/2004)
State lawmakers reconvened for state's 83rd legislative session on Monday in St. Paul, but kept the first day's agenda light. The centerpiece of this year's efforts is supposed to concentrate on borrowing cash for long-term projects. But all eyes are also nervously watching a state economic report due at the end of the month that will indicate how much of last year's deficit remains unfilled. And with money tight, supporters of new gambling opportunities see a chance to advance their cause. (02/02/2004)
On opening day of the 2004 Legislative session, MIDDAY broadcasts live from the Capitol rotunda. Host Gary Eichten and Minnesota Public Radio's Mike Mulcahy talk with key legislative leaders, including DFLer Dean Johnson, the new Senate majority leader. ( 02/02/2004)
A number of constitutional amendment proposals are likely to come up in the next legislative session beginning Monday. Are ballot amendments the best way to handle the important issues of the day, or does that process give too much power to the people? ( 02/02/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plan to bring back the death penalty is just one of many constitutional amendments lawmakers are likely to consider this year. Amendments have been proposed on everything from banning gay marriage to dedicating a portion of the state sales tax to the environment. The Legislature has debated several proposed constitutional amendments over the last few years, but none has reached the ballot since 1998. (02/02/2004)
Legislative leaders are predicting a long and lively debate in the coming weeks over proposed academic standards. The K-12 education agenda should be relatively light for this non-funding year session. Gov. Pawlenty is pushing several proposals for school reform that he'll include in his supplemental spending plan. But the cost won't likely stray from his pledge to live within existing revenues. (01/30/2004)
Gov. Pawlenty is promoting a new state Web site designed to help Minnesotans buy prescription medications from Canada. The site went live Friday afternoon, at a news conference by Gov. Pawlenty and Human Services Commissioner Kevin Goodno. Goodno says the site will offer savings on average of 35 percent versus prices available in the United States -- mostly because the Canadian government imposes price controls. (01/30/2004)
Gov. Pawlenty's stadium screening committee met again Thursday. They are expected to provide a report to the governor on Monday, advising him on site and finance options for new Twins and Vikings stadiums. ( 01/30/2004)
State corrections officials say Minnesota's prison system is bursting at the seams. The state's 10 correctional facilities have fewer than 75 empty beds, at a time when the prison population is increasing rapidly. Gov. Tim Pawlenty is asking the Legislature to approve borrowing nearly $95 million to expand two state prisons to address the space crunch. Most of the money would go to the prison in Faribault. Corrections officials say expanding the medium-security prison there would make it cheaper to run and safer for inmates and prison staff. (01/30/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Stadium Screening Committee has approved a final set of recommendations for building new facilities for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. The panel is recommending a mix of new or increased local taxes to be supplemented with dollars from the teams and fans. The committee will prepare a final draft to present to the governor on Monday. Minnesota Public Radio's Michael Khoo discusses the issue on MPR's All Things Considered. (01/29/2004)
Minnesota plunged 25 places in a state-by-state ranking of the subsidies available to families needing child care, according to a report by several child advocacy groups. (01/29/2004)
The debate over gay marriage got a headstart in a House committee on Wednesday. Minnesota already has a law that forbids gay marriage, but some worry that legal challenges could render those laws unconstitutional. They argue that an amendment to the state constitution is necessary to ensure the ban stays in place. Opponents say it's unnecessary and is discriminatory to members of the gay community. (01/28/2004)

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