Weather Forecast


What Minnesota legislators did

ST. PAUL - How some issues fared in the Minnesota Legislature this year:

Animal chiropractors: New guidelines were established for chiropractors who practice on animals, including requiring a veterinarian's referral.

Biofuels: Lawmakers approved increasing blends of biodiesel to 20 percent plant oil from the current 2 percent when mixed with diesel fuel.

Bonding: Legislators passed a $924 million public works funding bill, but Gov. Tim Pawlenty pared that down to $717 million. Most college and university projects survived. An end-of-session addition funded a passenger rail line between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis, a state park on Lake Vermilion and a new Minneapolis veterans' facility.

Bovine TB: Help for northwest Minnesota farmers with cattle herds affected by bovine tuberculosis came in several ways, including money to purchase infected herds and aid to improve fences to keep infected deer away from cattle.

Bridge survivors: Lawmakers agreed to pay up to $400,000 to victims of the Aug. 1 Minneapolis bridge collapse, but victims with the most serious injuries and highest medical bills can seek more. In exchange, recipients agree not to sue the state.

Budget: The Legislature and Pawlenty agreed to plug a $935 million deficit in the state mostly by cutting state spending, using reserve funds and tightening corporate tax law.

Child restraints: A measure to require children under 8 to wear child restraints was removed from a transportation bill.

Coach background checks: A new law requires all school coaches to undergo criminal background checks.

Constitutional amendments: The House backed a proposed amendment to the state constitution giving a citizens' panel the job of setting lawmakers' pay, but senators did not vote on it. Another proposed amendment that would allow top lawmakers, not just the governor, to call the Legislature into special session also did not make it through the process.

Dangerous dogs: Local animal control authorities can declare a dog dangerous, and require its owner post a warning sign and have the dog sterilized. The bill also allows local governments to pass ordinances that allow dogs in outdoors restaurant serving areas.

Energy: Lawmakers passed mostly minor energy measures, including one meant to attract renewable energy jobs to Minnesota.

Environment: A proposal requiring Minnesota vehicles to meet the same emissions standards as California failed.

Farm implements: Requires farm implements to comply with bridge weight limits. Current law allows farmers to take implements over the weight limit on bridges.

Fishing: A plan to make the spring fishing opener earlier flopped early in the session, and a plan to allow anglers to cast two lines in open water sunk. But lawmakers established a new angling license meant to encourage catch-and-release fishing.

Foreclosures: Several bills to ease the current foreclosure crisis passed, but the big proposal to allow mortgage holders facing foreclosure to delay some payments lost.

Forests: Lawmakers created a program to put private forest land into easements to allow public access.

Good faith: Pawlenty signed legislation making it easier for people to sue insurance companies they believe denied claims without good reason.

Health care reform: The House, Senate and Pawlenty administration agreed on a package that expands public and private health insurance coverage, begins health care payment changes, makes health care information more consumer friendly and rewards improved care of chronic disease sufferers.

Health commissioner: Senators confirmed Pawlenty's pick for Department of Health chief, Dr. Sanne Magnan. She replaced Dianne Mandernach, who lawmakers criticized for keeping private data about cancer deaths.

JOBZ: Proposals for the Job Opportunity Building Zones rural economic development program ranged from expanding it to killing it. In the end, it was left pretty much as is.

Mall of America: The mall sought state permission for Bloomington and other local governments to raise taxes to build parking ramps, but it faced opposition and was downsized to just allowing new taxes at the mall and also nearby hotels. It was not clear that mall owners would feel that helped enough to build an expansion.

Medical marijuana: Supporters of a plan to allow suffers of some medical conditions to use marijuana for pain relief came up short again this year.

Mesothelioma: Scientists from the University of Minnesota received $4.9 million to study cancer deaths among Iron Range miners.

Minimum wage: The governor vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in two steps over the next two years.

Mourning doves: An effort to overturn a mourning dove hunting season lost in committee.

Northwest Airlines: Committees heard officials from Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines say their merger will be good for Minnesota. But many lawmakers promise to closely monitor the merger so the new company pays the state what it is due from earlier laws.

Nonprofit property taxes: A tax deal places a moratorium on changes to how nonprofit property is assessed.

Nursing homes: Will receive a 2 percent cost of living increase, plus some additional state aid.

Outdoors funding: Outdoors, clean water and arts programs would get up to a $244 million-a-year boost if voters in November pass a 0.375 percent sales tax increase. It was the first major bill lawmakers passed this year.

Property taxes: Local governments must cap property tax increases at 3.9 percent, some Minnesotans will see property tax relief and cities, counties and townships will get more state aid under a tax agreement reached at the end of the session.

Q-Comp: Pawlenty's premier education reform program was protected, although some excess Q-Comp money was used to increase school funding.

School funding: Legislators and Pawlenty agreed to give schools a one-time funding boost of $51 per student and allow districts to use another $51 per student from capital reserves for classroom expenses.

Seat belts: Several efforts failed to allow law enforcement officers to stop motorists not wearing seat belts.

Smoking shacks: An effort to create an exemption to the statewide smoking ban last year - allowing bars and restaurants to create outdoor "smoking shacks" - failed to become law.

Star lakes: Lawmakers created a voluntary program rewarding lake associations for their efforts to improve water quality and shoreline vegetation.

State of hockey: An effort to make ice hockey Minnesota's official state sport failed when it was part of a vetoed bill.

Surrogate mothers: Pawlenty vetoed a bill that established guidelines for arrangements between surrogate mothers and the intended parents.

Swimming pool safety: Protective devices will be required over swimming pool drains so children cannot be injured by being sucked onto the drains, as a Twin Cities girl was last year.

Tickets: A new law outlaws the use of computer software for commercial ticket-buyers to virtually jump to the front of the line in on-line ticket sales.

Toy safety: The governor vetoed a measure to make toys containing certain chemicals illegal.

Transportation commissioner: Senators voted to toss Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau out of office after numerous allegations of mismanagement. However, she continues in her position as lieutenant governor. Transportation leaders like her replacement, Tom Sorel.

Transportation funding: After years of debate, the Legislature put a transportation funding package into law, over Pawlenty's objection. The $6.6 billion, 10-year plan to fund road, bridge and transit projects relies on gasoline, sales and other tax increases.

Vermilion State Park: The proposed new park in northeastern Minnesota received $20 million in end-of-session negotiations.

Veterans cemetery: Lawmakers approved a land transfer at Jay Cooke State Park south of Duluth for a new military veterans' cemetery.

Vietnam veterans' day: A new sets March 29 as the day.

Young drivers: New teen drivers would face nighttime driving restrictions and other driving limits under legislation sent to Pawlenty.