ST. PAUL — Minnesota House Democrats want to grow the state budget to boost funding for education, health care and road and bridge repairs. The plan will require an "aggressive" change to the state's tax laws, a 20 cent per gallon increase on the tax on gasoline and the retention of a 2 percent tax on medical providers, Democratic leaders said Monday, March 25.
ST. PAUL -- A proposal to ban holding a cell phone while driving in Minnesota remains on track to become law. The Minnesota Senate on Monday, March 25 voted 56-10 to advance House File 50 with an amendment that would exempt those who place a phone to their ear using a scarf, hijab or another article of clothing from the penalty. Families who'd lost loved ones to distracted-driving-related crashes cheered from the Senate galleries at the result. The group spent years urging change at the Capitol.
ST. PAUL -- Members of the Minnesota Senate re-wrote their rules on harassment and discrimination for the first time in almost two decades. The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on Monday, March 25, voted unanimously to advance changes to the body's non-discrimination and harassment policies. The vote allowed the rules to take effect immediately, replacing ones in place since 1990.
ST. PAUL — Lawmakers and Gov. Tim Walz this week drew clearer lines about their top spending priorities. And while there was talk of working together, there was little compromise. Walz and Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers launched public campaigns to levy a 20 cent per gallon tax hike on gasoline to repair aging roads and bridges and to extend a 2 percent tax on medical providers that funds health care for needy people.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Walz shrunk his budget ask to adjust for gloomier economic forecasts, he announced Friday, March 22, but the biggest sticking points for Republican lawmakers remain. At a news conference, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said he'd cut proposed spending by 5 percent from his original $49.5 billion two-year plan. And those cuts would come from across state agencies, he said. The changes were aimed at keeping the state on strong financial footing while also rolling out increases for education, health care and community development, Walz said.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz this week sent Senate Republicans a Wall Street Journal story highlighting the national business community's support for a federal gas tax increase. The Democrat on Tuesday, March 19, held a press conference in Anoka to highlight one of the most dangerous intersections in the state.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House of Representatives on Thursday, March 21, advanced a bill that would add protections against sexual harassment in the workplace. On a 113-10 vote, lawmakers approved a change that would add language to the Minnesota Human Rights Act clarifying that harassment does not need to be “severe or pervasive” before it can be deemed actionable in court. The high legal bar has kept cases from being heard and denied justice to people who've experienced harassment, supporters said.
ST. PAUL — Dozens of advocates on Thursday, March 21, brought their message to the Capitol: don't let the sun set on the health care provider tax. The 2 percent tax on medical providers funds MinnesotaCare, a health program for low-income people, and Medical Assistance, the state's version of Medicaid. It's slated to expire at the end of the year if lawmakers don't act.
ST. PAUL -- An evaluation of the potential environmental impact of an Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline construction project left out "the elephant in the room," the potential damage it could cause to the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. That's according to attorneys that appealed the impact statement, arguing it's inaccurate. They, along with attorneys defending Enbridge's assessment and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission's process, presented their oral arguments to the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Wednesday, March 20.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Senate leaders say debates about Minnesota school funding should include tax breaks for groups that fund private and parochial school scholarships. At a news conference on Tuesday, March 19, Republican lawmakers said they'd again bring forward a bill that would fund up to $35 million in tax credits for people and organizations that fund scholarships for low- and middle-income families to send their kids to nonpublic schools.