Seat-belt crackdown again gets held back

For the second time in a week, a plan that would give police power to stop motorists simply for failing to buckle up has been turned back in the Minnesota House.

An effort to attach the proposal to another transportation bill was deemed out of order on a 78-55 vote.

Under current law, unbuckled drivers and passengers can be ticketed for not wearing a belt, but police need to have a different reason for making the traffic stop, such as a speeding violation.

The Senate has repeatedly passed the seat-belt crackdown, but it has always gotten hung up in the House.

Some foes say seat-belt use should remain a personal choice; others argue police could use it as a basis for racial profiling.


Emissions bill like California's is killed

A state Senate committee has defeated a bill to put Minnesota on course for adopting California-style car emissions standards. A 10-7 vote Thursday by the Business, Industry and Jobs Committee means it will be almost impossible for supporters of the strict emissions standard to enact a law for it this year.

There's an outside chance the House sponsors could use procedural motions to get around the Senate committee setback.

The bill would have required that new cars and light trucks sold in the state emit 30 percent fewer greenhouse gases by 2016. More than a dozen states have adopted the standard, but so far the federal government has blocked its implementation.


Pawlenty OKs later bar hours for convention

Bars across the Twin Cities area will probably be staying open a few hours later during the Republican National Convention.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a bill Thursday that will allow local governments to extend bar hours until 4 a.m. in the seven-county metro area during the convention. The current cutoff time for bars is 2 a.m.

From Aug. 31 to Sept. 5, bars will be able to stay open later as long as their cities agree to the change. Local governments would be allowed to charge special permit fees of as much as $2,500.