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Minnesota Legislature is in 'limbo'

Waiting to see what bills Gov. Dayton will sign into law.

Posted: May 21, 2018 3:50 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota lawmakers wrapped up their work as midnight struck Sunday, but the session scorecard was still largely empty on Monday.

From revamping the state's tax code to enhancing security measures at public schools and clamping down on opioid abuse, much of the session's work was stuffed into just two massive bills — and Gov. Mark Dayton said late Sunday he planned to veto them. Dayton has 14 days to make his final decisions, and Republicans began a lobbying campaign with a parade of Minnesota residents and business owners calling on the governor to sign the bills on his desk.

"Today begins the pressure on our governor to do what's right and sign these bills," House Speaker Kurt Daudt said Monday.

Here's a look at what the Legislature passed and how much remains in limbo:

TAXES

Minnesota lawmakers sent Dayton legislation with the primary goal of syncing the state's tax code with sweeping federal changes, trying to ensure Minnesota residents aren't faced with a complex tax filing season in 2019. The bill would also phase in a cut to tax rates on the state's two lowest income brackets by 0.1 percentage point and 0.2 percentage point, meaning all taxpayers would see a modest cut.

VERDICT: Pending, but Dayton has threatened a veto. The Democratic governor already vetoed similar legislation once, arguing the bill didn't penalize companies who move foreign profits back to Minnesota harshly enough. But Republicans added a sweetener on the second try, folding in funding for schools in a budget crunch that Dayton had deemed essential.

SCHOOL BUDGETS

Republicans sprinkled money for schools through several different bills, pulling from several different funding sources to help avert teacher layoffs and program cuts. Much of the $225 million total came by allowing districts to shift existing funding for community programming and teacher training to solve their budget woes. Another $50 million would come from forcing the Department of Natural Resources to repay for using schools' land.

VERDICT: Pending, but Dayton has threatened a veto of all the bills. He and Democrats decried the funding as a "shell game," pointing out the vast majority of the money was existing funding.

PUBLIC CONSTRUCTION

Approving a package authorizing more than $1.5 billion in public works projects was one of the Legislature's final actions before the deadline. It includes funding for upkeep at Minnesota colleges and universities, grants to help cities upgrade water infrastructure, $5 million to help St. Paul demolish a crumbling parking ramp and $32 million to build three new veterans homes across Minnesota.

VERDICT: Pending. Democrats cried foul that some of the funding in the bill came from a voter-approved trust fund for environmental rehabilitation. But Daudt and fellow Republicans expressed confidence Dayton would ultimately sign the bill, and even Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said he expected the governor to approve it.

SCHOOL SAFETY

Fatal school shootings in Florida and Texas bookended Minnesota's legislative session, leading to broad agreement in an otherwise acrimonious year that officials needed to help schools pay for security enhancements.

The Legislature passed two bills that would help schools pay for bulletproof glass, monitoring systems, secure entrances as well as mental health counseling. Lawmakers included $28 million in a mammoth spending package and another $25 million in the public works bill.

VERDICT: Pending, but Dayton has threatened a veto of the government spending bill. If he follows through but signs the public construction bill, schools could still access some additional money to pay for security upgrades.

HANDS-FREE CELL PHONES

An eleventh-hour campaign at the Legislature to pass a law requiring drivers to use hands-free technology while behind the wheel petered out, as legislative leaders wouldn't put it up for a final vote.

Instead, lawmakers imposed stricter penalties for both first-time and repeat offenders of the state's distracted driving law. A first-time offender who previously got off free will now pay a total fine of $150. A second offense doubles to $300, while a third infraction in under five years is a misdemeanor and a fine of $500.

VERDICT: Pending, but Dayton has indicated he'd veto the government spending bill that contains this language.

OPIOID ABUSE

Lawmakers agreed going into this year's session that curbing opioid abuse was a high priority. But they couldn't agree on how to pay for it.

A proposal to charge drug companies roughly a penny per narcotic painkiller pill met stiff resistance from House Republicans who weren't eager to hit drug companies — and thus consumers — with higher taxes. Instead, lawmakers opted to set aside $16 million to fund treatment facilities using taxpayer dollars.

VERDICT: Pending, but Dayton has indicated he'd veto the government funding package that contains opioid prevention efforts. Dayton accused Republicans of caving to the pharmaceutical industry, while even proponents of a penny-a-pill fee urged Dayton to sign the bill.

"It is a start and is something that will bend the curve somewhat," said GOP Sen. Julie Rosen, who wrote the bill in the Senate.

GUN LEGISLATION

Thousands of protesters flocked to the Capitol throughout the session calling on lawmakers to expand background checks on gun sales and make other law changes after the deadly Florida school shooting in February followed by the recent fatal school shooting in Texas.

But those measures stalled in committees run by Republican majorities. Lawmakers instead focused on funding security enhancements inside school buildings, but even that money is in limbo.

VERDICT: Nothing doing.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The state's sexual harassment policies were under scrutiny heading into the legislative session after two male lawmakers resigned amid a slew of sexual misconduct allegations. Both chambers vowed to rework their own handling of those cases, and House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin led a late push to expand what cases could be convicted in the courts.

VERDICT: The House retooled their reporting procedures and policies internally, and the Senate has vowed to follow suit in the coming months. The House's new policies will be put to the test after sexual misconduct allegations surfaced last month against Mountain Lake Republican Rep. Rod Hamilton, who denied them.

But Peppin's push to remove the "severe or pervasive" legal standard that judges apply to sexual harassment cases stalled amid steep opposition from businesses and local governments.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 441935

Reported Deaths: 5885
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin918591461
Ramsey39405729
Dakota32551324
Anoka30638354
Washington19827221
Stearns17686184
St. Louis13453237
Scott1178693
Wright11485101
Olmsted1024870
Sherburne812364
Carver686636
Clay643278
Rice595266
Kandiyohi551069
Blue Earth533833
Crow Wing476573
Otter Tail449860
Chisago446331
Benton414885
Winona383946
Douglas370366
Nobles364646
Mower358026
Goodhue340757
Polk326754
McLeod321644
Morrison308743
Beltrami305746
Lyon298735
Itasca281143
Becker279438
Isanti279440
Carlton276942
Steele26879
Pine263813
Freeborn237219
Todd230029
Nicollet222136
Brown212334
Mille Lacs211645
Le Sueur206515
Cass203823
Meeker197433
Waseca187515
Martin168226
Wabasha16712
Roseau164916
Hubbard146937
Redwood138527
Renville136139
Houston133213
Dodge13134
Chippewa130632
Cottonwood125118
Fillmore12084
Wadena118214
Rock108511
Sibley10757
Aitkin106633
Watonwan10548
Faribault103214
Kanabec96818
Pennington95915
Pipestone92522
Yellow Medicine92514
Murray8585
Jackson84510
Swift82617
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68114
Lac qui Parle65216
Lake62215
Wilkin6179
Koochiching57910
Lincoln4771
Big Stone4513
Unassigned43568
Grant4247
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36619
Red Lake3154
Traverse2433
Lake of the Woods1741
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300884

Reported Deaths: 4197
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk44949440
Linn17563269
Scott15228161
Black Hawk13552228
Woodbury12896175
Johnson1191749
Dubuque11229148
Pottawattamie8863112
Dallas874169
Story857433
Webster464768
Cerro Gordo458766
Sioux452451
Clinton445461
Warren430637
Marshall424561
Buena Vista389029
Muscatine382275
Des Moines377340
Plymouth347967
Wapello336796
Jasper315955
Lee310828
Marion298852
Jones268949
Henry262130
Carroll252233
Bremer240048
Crawford227622
Boone214116
Washington213531
Benton207543
Mahaska189936
Jackson189631
Tama184757
Dickinson183225
Delaware171136
Kossuth169241
Clay165319
Wright161724
Fayette157022
Buchanan156920
Hamilton156828
Hardin153129
Harrison152961
Winneshiek150819
Clayton149848
Cedar149119
Butler145423
Page143115
Floyd137236
Cherokee137125
Mills135216
Lyon133132
Poweshiek131024
Hancock127924
Allamakee125927
Iowa122122
Calhoun12159
Jefferson118623
Grundy118522
Winnebago117229
Madison11639
Mitchell114634
Louisa113729
Cass111741
Chickasaw110111
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose108838
Union107922
Humboldt103919
Guthrie102124
Shelby101026
Franklin99818
Unassigned9370
Palo Alto8969
Keokuk84225
Montgomery82722
Howard81119
Monroe79918
Pocahontas77211
Clarke7717
Ida73530
Greene6837
Davis68221
Adair68120
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62316
Taylor5889
Worth5873
Fremont5005
Van Buren49112
Decatur4744
Ringgold4229
Wayne41321
Audubon4118
Adams2923
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