Medical marijuana: MaryAnn Nelson of Mankato kissed her daughter Rachel, who suffers from Rett syndrome.
Richard Tsong-Taatarii • email@example.com,
Bonding: Funds were approved to continue the design, construction and restoration work at the Minnesota State Capitol.
JEFF WHEELER • firstname.lastname@example.org,
Taxes: Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk strolled down the aisle toward the end of a session that approved two rounds of tax relief.
GLEN STUBBE • email@example.com,
Here's how the Legislature grappled with issues facing Minn.
- Article by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
- Star Tribune
- May 17, 2014 - 8:54 PM
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.
With little fuss, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed, and the governor signed, a series of measures to streamline regulations and delete obsolete laws.
Minnesota will remain in the minority of states that forbid liquor stores from being open on Sundays. Opponents of the Sunday sales prohibition hoped this year that they would at least win permission for brewers to sell glass growlers on Sundays, but that didn’t happen.
The sale of e-cigarettes and other “vaping” devices to minors will be prohibited and their use will be banned in government-owned buildings and hospitals. Cities and businesses are free to adopt more stringent bans.
Lawmakers limited the scope of law enforcement data gathering through formerly secret devices like cellphone trackers and license plate readers.
Local governments will have to post campaign finance information online for all to see under a new mandate approved this year. But political spending from independent groups — largely political nonprofits — that is now undisclosed will remain so.
Cellphone kill switch
In May, the governor signed a first-in-the-nation measure that requires smartphone manufacturers to include mandatory “kill switch” technology by July 2015 as a way to deter thefts.
Lawmakers and the governor were unable to agree on any new program to deal with civilly committed sex offenders. That could leave the fate of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program up to the courts.
In the very first act of the session, lawmakers and the governor approved an additional $20 million in heating assistance to help low-income families coping with high heating prices stay warm through the bitter cold winter.
Senate office building
After a great deal of debate, the House and Senate agreed to move forward on plans for a new Senate office building behind the Capitol. The plans now include a nearly $77 million building to house all senators and allow for new meeting rooms.
After a February report that some schoolchildren were shamed or denied hot meals when their lunch money accounts had run dry, lawmakers and the governor moved to expand the lunch program.
Lawmakers agreed that nurses who pose an imminent risk of harm to the public should automatically be suspended, and licenses of nurses convicted of felony sex crimes should be revoked. Employers also must report to the board any nurse caught stealing drugs.
Home health workers
Legislators approved 5 percent more for home health care workers, most of which will go for salary increases.
Abby Simons, Baird Helgeson, Patrick Condon and Brandon Stahl contributed to this report.
© 2014 Star Tribune