ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota lawmakers flock back to the Capitol on Tuesday for a legislative session expected to run 12 weeks at most.
Having set the two-year budget last year, lawmakers face a shorter list of legislation they must consider this time. And it's always easier to get in the way of proposed laws than to enact them.
Here are five things to know about the session:
1. IS FRIDAY PAYDAY?
The talk at the Capitol will be what to do with extra money rather than how to erase a budget deficit, for a change.
A projected surplus stands at $825 million. But that figure gets revised on Friday with an economic report from state finance officials.
The trend line suggests the pot of available money is more likely to grow than shrink. Since November, the state has scooped up $255 million more in tax revenue than it was expecting. It's not as clear, though, how spending obligations are matching up with earlier predictions.
State leaders are divided about where the money should go. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, House Democrats and Republicans in both chambers want a big chunk to go for tax cuts or to cover elimination of some of the new taxes imposed last session. Majority Senate Democrats suggest building up the state's rainy-day accounts.
There's also ample talk of paying cash for construction — from roads to government buildings — that the state might otherwise borrow money to undertake.
1. 'UNSESSION' OBSESSION
Dayton hopes Minnesota lawmakers will spend as much time pruning the statute books as they do adding to them. He's attached the "Unsession" mantra to his goal.
The governor's idea is to do away with outdated laws or speed up things like construction permitting. He plans to release a comprehensive slate of proposals next week.
Legislative Democrats have identified a few dozen boards or commissions that they argue have outlived their usefulness and could be scrapped.
But the "unsession" theme has been open to vast interpretation. Republicans see it as an invitation to fire at old targets. They want to press for changes to the state's nascent health insurance marketplace known as MNsure and to initiate new debate over the $2.1 billion in tax hikes enacted last spring.
Every session has its attention-grabbers, and this year's might be marijuana.
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