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Session 2004

Session 2004

Opposition to gambling has brought together a couple of unlikely partners. The Taxpayers League of Minnesota is joining forces with a coalition of religious organizations to speak out against proposals that would expand gambling. The groups say they intend to run radio advertisements and lobby the DFL-controlled Senate to stop the creation of a state-run casino in Minnesota. (04/27/2004)
If Monday's hearing was any sign, the Twins and Vikings are in for a tough week as they try to persuade the House Taxes Committee to keep stadium legislation on track. The committee set a decidedly negative tone in the first of several hearings this week on the stadium bill. (04/26/2004)
Minnesota lawmakers have less than a month to go before they are constitutionally mandated to adjourn the legislative session. House Republicans last week announced a proposal to borrow about $600 million for new construction projects around the state, but that plan will have to be reconciled with the Senate DFLers bonding proposal, which has not been released yet. In addition, lawmakers still need to agree on a fix for a projected $160 million shortfall. <I>Morning Edition</I> host Cathy Wurzer spoke with Laura McCallum, Minnesota Public Radio's Capitol Bureau Chief. (04/26/2004)
When House Republicans released a $683 million capital improvements package this week, it contained a transportation project that surprised some observers. The bill includes $4 million for a testing facility for personal rapid transit -- PRT. The idea has the support of some fiscal conservatives who don't usually support mass transit projects. Skeptics call it a boondoggle. (04/23/2004)
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was unsuccessful in his efforts on Thursday to persuade the shareholders of the world's largest drug company to charge Americans less for prescriptions. Pawlenty attended Pfizer's shareholder meeting in Missouri and spoke in favor of controlling drug costs in the United States. (04/22/2004)
State tax officials have recently noticed a curious trend: corporate profits are up, but corporate tax payments are down. Democrats in the Minnesota Senate say there's a simple reason. Minnesota businesses, they argue, are exploiting loopholes to duck paying their fair share of taxes. But Republicans and the business community say one person's loophole is another's legitimate tax deduction. (04/22/2004)
Host Gary Eichten and his guests discuss the role of the State Senate in confirming Gubernatorial appointments. Rich Stanek resigned last week from the public safety commissioner post. Senate Democrats have also questioned the policies and leadership of Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau and Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke. ( 04/21/2004)
The snow has melted, but the debate over last winter's snowplowing continues. State transportation officials on Wednesday released a report showing the state Department of Transportation met its snowplowing goals over the winter. But they say it took longer to remove snow and ice from the roads because this winter was snowier than the year before. DFL legislative leaders who criticized MnDOT all winter say the agency is putting a positive spin on its poor plowing performance. (04/21/2004)
House Republicans have released a capital improvements proposal that's heavy on borrowing for higher education projects and includes funding for the Northstar commuter rail line. The proposal is smaller than Gov. Pawlenty's bonding recommendation, and doesn't fully fund some of the governor's priority projects such as a prison expansion. The bill gets its first hearing in a House committee on Wednesday. (04/20/2004)
- A rural lawmaker wants Minnesota to bar obese people from suing restaurants and food manufacturers for contributing to the supersizing of their waistlines. No such lawsuits have been filed in Minnesota, but Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said he's worried about the impact they might have on farmers and food companies. (04/20/2004)
Senate DFL leaders say last week's resignation of Public Safety Commissioner Rich Stanek will not affect the pending confirmations of other Pawlenty cabinet members. They say they will continue to scrutinize the governor's commissioners. Many DFL senators say they're particularly concerned about Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke, whose confirmation vote by the Senate Education Committee is scheduled for April 27. Republicans say DFLers are playing politics with qualified gubernatorial appointees. (04/20/2004)
Minnesota is putting more criminals on probation. Probation officers are struggling to keep up with their growing workload. Recent budget cuts are adding to the challenge. Some probation officers say public safety is affected when they can't implement the best tools available to keep criminals from committing new crimes. (04/19/2004)
Public Safety Commissioner Rich Stanek resigned under pressure Friday, bowing to new criticism over his admission in a deposition 12 years ago that he used racial slurs and told racist jokes. (04/16/2004)
U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige visited Minnesota on Thursday, the second time in two months he's come to the state to promote the federal No Child Left Behind Law. Paige says the federal government is trying to respond to states' concerns about the law. His comments didn't satisfy some teachers and school officials, who say the law is causing many problems for schools. (04/15/2004)
On the eve of the April 15 income tax deadline, state Democratic lawmakers tried to cast rising property tax bills as a more accurate indication of how Minnesotans' obligations to government have changed. (04/14/2004)

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