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Session 2004

Session 2004: Bonding

Even-numbered years such as 2004 at the Legislature are, in theory, dedicated to producing a list of construction projects the state deems worth borrowing for. This year, lawmakers and the governor didn't manage to agree on a list. The Senate's list called for $949 million worth of prisons, parks and other projects. The House was about $677 million and the governor's list was in between. Though they were hundreds of millions apart, such differences never stopped negotiations before. The Senate needed Republican votes to pass a bill because bonding bills need 60 percent of votes. They didn't get enough support in a vote last week and it was never revived.

If you're a hunter, you got a new season for mourning doves. If you're a state trooper, you got a tougher drunken driving standard, starting in summer '05. If you're a student in kindergarten through high school, you got new science and social studies standards. If you're Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke, you got a pink slip. Otherwise, if you slept through the last four months, you didn't miss much. (05/17/2004)
The Minnesota Senate Thursday defeated a $950 million package of public works projects. The bill needed 41 votes to pass, but fell two votes short. Most Republicans voted against it, saying the bill is too large. Senate DFL leaders say it's unlikely there will be a bonding bill this session. (05/06/2004)
Senate DFL leaders Tuesday proposed a nearly $950 million package of capital improvement projects. About $890 million worth of projects would be funded by selling state-backed bonds, so the bill is commonly called the bonding bill. The package is far bigger than a $677 million bonding bill the House passed last week. The two bills could be difficult to reconcile, especially with less than two weeks left in the legislative session. (05/04/2004)
The Minnesota House has voted overwhelmingly for a $677 million package of capital improvement projects. About $600 million in projects would be funded by money borrowed through bond sales, so the bill is commonly called the bonding bill. The project that drove the six-hour debate was an item that was removed from the bill earlier this week - the proposed Northstar commuter rail line between Minneapolis and Big Lake. Northstar supporters failed in their attempt to put funding for the line back into the bill. (04/29/2004)
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)
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)
Governor Pawlenty has outlined a series of proposals to help Minnesota's emerging biotech industry. Pawlenty has made biotech a top priority of his administration. But the governor's recommendations don't go as far as the proposals from the biosciences council he created last year. Industry experts say even if Pawlenty's package passes in its entirety, Minnesota will have to do more down the road to be a major player in the biotech industry. (02/03/2004)
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)
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. Pawlenty has released a bonding package totaling $760 million. The size of the proposal surprised some House Republicans who favor a leaner package of public works projects, while some Senate DFLers called it skimpy. The bill would fund construction at colleges, universities and state buildings, as well as prison expansion, roads, rail and environmental projects. (01/14/2004)
Gov. Pawlenty Tuesday reversed years of opposition to a northwest metro commuter rail line linking Minneapolis to Big Lake. Pawlenty is now offering nearly $40 million in state funds to jumpstart the Northstar Commuter Rail line. The governor says a new cost-benefit analysis helped convince him that the project deserves support. But the change of heart has left many of Pawlenty's former legislative colleagues upset and disappointed. (01/13/2004)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty released another round of bonding proposals Monday, including $147 million to fund environmental initiatives and $18 million to boost agricultural loan programs. Pawlenty is also proposing $25 million for the Minnesota Zoo, for maintenance, construction and debt relief. (01/12/2004)
More prison beds, longer sentences for sex offenders and closer monitoring of those who are released are key components of a proposal outlined Thursday by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. (01/08/2004)
Public shooting ranges are becoming an endangered species in the Twin Cities area. Over the last decade or so, most have been forced out by suburban development. Private developers so far haven't stepped in to fill the void, so the Department of Natural Resources wants to help. (11/07/2003)