The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 13, 2014

Minn. lawmakers give taste of 2014 session bills

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Lawmakers itching to get proposals in the pipeline introduced them Monday well ahead of the 2014 session, giving each other and the public a taste of the debates in store.

A whopping 278 bills landed more than six weeks before the Legislature formally convenes. Committees can start discussing the bills without taking action.

Many measures deal with repealing or modifying taxes, several advocate for hometown public works projects, and some would address nagging problems with Minnesota's health insurance marketplace. Others seek to regulate consumer interactions, from massage parlors to liquor stores to Internet-based lottery tickets to e-cigarettes.

The introduction deadline applied to the House only. The Senate won't start accepting early bills until mid-February. The session must conclude by mid-May.

Here's a glimpse at some of the proposals:

TAX REPEALS

A host of legislation would scrap newly enacted taxes. The bills have bipartisan authors but all go after taxes passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature in the waning hours of last year's session.

Gov. Mark Dayton has already indicated that he would dump new business taxes on warehousing centers, telecommunications equipment and farm machinery repair. But he can't do it without legislative approval.

An $825 million budget surplus would help offset the lost revenue from the tax repeals.

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SUNDAY LIQUOR SALES

People who want to do away with a ban on Sunday liquor store sales are gearing up for a new push, even though lawmakers have debated — and defeated — the repeal effort for years.

Some bills seek to scrap the ban entirely. One bill would give communities the right to decide if liquor stores stay closed on Sunday.

Minnesota is among a dozen states that still have the so-called blue law, and Dayton has said he would sign a repeal bill.

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