For more than 80 days and over many late nights, legislators hashed out major issues confronting Minnesota: raising wages, cutting taxes, banning bullying, legalizing medical marijuana. Here is a brief look at what they accomplished, and a few things they left undone, by the time they adjourned Friday:
The Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton agreed to a limited medical marijuana distribution system, one of the most restrictive in the country. Starting in July 2015, it would provide access to the drug to about 5,000 Minnesotans who suffer from a list of specified conditions.
Minnesotans got two rounds of tax cuts out of this legislative session. A March bill cut income taxes for more than 1 million Minnesotans, with nearly one in 10 taxpayers getting relief on their 2013 tax payments. On Friday, the Legislature approved more than $150 million in property tax cuts. Homeowners will get an average refund of more than $800, renters more than $600 and farmers about $400, although individual refunds will vary.
Lawmakers settled on a $1 billion list of construction projects across the state. It includes $100 million for affordable housing along with funding for campus buildings, roads and bridges, a high-profile southwestern Minnesota water project and reconstruction of the Minnesota Capitol.
Online lottery sales
Legislators passed a ban that will require the Minnesota Lottery to stop offering electronic scratch-off games online, at gas pumps and ATMs. Powerball will still be allowed. Gov. Mark Dayton has not said whether he will sign or veto the measure.
A controversial antibullying measure that requires schools to track and investigate cases of bullying and train teachers and staff in preventing it became law in early April.
Women’s Economic Security Act
This package of new laws is designed to close the gender pay gap and provide supportive workplaces for women. It was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton on May 10, Mother’s Day.
Minnesota’s minimum wage will rise from one of the lowest in the country — $6.15 — to one of the highest. The first increase would come this August, when the minimum climbs to $8. In August 2015 it will rise to $8.50, then $9.50 by August 2016. Increases after that will be linked to inflation.