The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 15, 2014

Pace quickens as adjournment fever hits Legislature

ST. PAUL — Minnesota lawmakers plowed into the night Thursday as they sought to finalize deals on $1 billion in construction authorization, a budget bill and tax cuts.

They were up against a Sunday deadline to pass all remaining bills, though the quickening pace of deal-making suggested an earlier election-year exit was possible. Legislators reached deals on legislation to legalize medical marijuana, moved to curb the lottery’s expansion into online gambling and pushed first-ever electronic cigarette restrictions to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.

“If you think these are harmless or the addiction to nicotine is harmless, think again,” said Democratic Rep. Laurie Halverson of Eagan before the 93-35 vote on a bill that prohibits sales of e-cigarettes to minors and bans their use in government buildings, on school grounds and at day cares. It was short of the full indoor ban some backers, especially Sen. Kathy Sheran of Mankato, wanted.

Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa called it a “government gone wild” response to an issue for which the science hasn’t fully determined the health impact of chemical vapors the e-cigarettes emit.

Many of the big bills were in a holding pattern as legislative leadership negotiated over a construction project that Dayton and many lawmakers deemed critical.

The $846 million plan requires a three-fifths majority to pass, so Republican votes were essential in the Democratic-led Legislature.

As it stood Thursday afternoon, the bill includes several Mankato-area projects, including $14.5 million for Mankato’s civic center, making its seventh serious attempt at funding. The bill also fully funds two St. Peter projects: $56.3 million for the Minnesota Security Hospital and $7.41 million for the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

However, it leaves out the $7.47 million South Central College renovations and maintenance work, though it does include $25.8 million for a clinical sciences building at Minnesota State University. The list of higher education projects hews closely to the state’s internal rankings, which placed SCC’s project well below MSU’s.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • American doctor in Africa gets treatment for Ebola BOONE, N.C. (AP) — An American doctor infected with the deadly Ebola disease received intensive treatment Sunday in West Africa and was in stable condition, talking to his medical team and working on his computer, a spokeswoman for an aid group said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Salmonella Outbreak Trial [Duplicate] Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia ATLANTA (AP) — Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georg

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitfalls emerge in health insurance renewals WASHINGTON — For the 8 million people who persevered through all the technical travails in the new health insurance exchanges and managed to sign up for coverage in 2014, their policies will probably automatically renew come November when open enroll

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour truce in Gaza after initially rejecting a similar Israeli offer, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull that international diplomats had hoped c

    July 27, 2014

  • Solar car race to end at University of Minnesota MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A cross-country solar car race is set to finish at the University of Minnesota on Monday. About 10 solar cars from colleges around the world are competing in the eight-day, 1,700-mile American Solar Challenge. The race began July

    July 27, 2014

  • Dozens of oil trains pass through Minnesota weekly Railroad documents released by the state Department of Public Safety show about 50 trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota are passing through Minnesota each week.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medical Marijuana [Duplicate] Wanted: Manufacturers for Minn. medical pot program After the long slog to legalize medical marijuana, the state's real work has begun to get the unconventional medicine in severely ill patients' hands by this time next year.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Minneapolis to NYC flight diverted to Milwaukee MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis to New York City has landed safely in Milwaukee after it was diverted. Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo says the crew chose to divert the flight Saturday morning out of an abundance of caution a

    July 26, 2014

  • Hamas rejects 4-hour Gaza war truce extension BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Hamas official says the group has rejected a four-hour extension of a humanitarian truce proposed by Israel. Sami Abu Zuhri sent a text message to reporters Saturday, saying: "No agreement to extending the calm for an

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona execution renews debate over methods SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A third execution by lethal injection has gone awry in six months, renewing debate over whether there is a foolproof way for the government to humanely kill condemned criminals, and whether it's even worth looking for one. Death

    July 26, 2014