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
  • Ellison urges Minn. to aid Central American minors ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota congressman is leading efforts to bring more unaccompanied children fleeing Central America to the state. But, immigration advocates and nonprofit groups that serve refugees are concerned Minnesota might not be abl

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014

  • Closings set in Ventura's suit over sniper's book ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Closing arguments are set in former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit against the estate of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle. The case is expected to go to the federal jury in St. Paul after lawyers for both

    July 22, 2014

  • American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel. Israel calls them the lone soldiers: They are men and women in the prime of their live

    July 22, 2014

  • 9 TC Rainbow stores to close Supermarkets to lose in Cottage Grove, Shoreview, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove and Savage

    July 21, 2014

  • Accelerants fuel fire; 2 rescued ST. PAUL — Two brothers were rescued from the upper floor of a St. Paul duplex in a fire that was fueled by cylinders of gas, oxygen and other accelerants. Authorities say the two were taken to Regions Hospital where one man is in critical condition

    July 21, 2014

  • Monticello doctor dies in cycle crash Patients among those mourning Dr. Eric Lefebvre's death

    July 21, 2014

  • Precautions urged for excessive heat, humidity MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Health officials are urging Minnesotans to take precautions in dealing with high temperatures and humidity. The National Weather Service says the humidity will make temperatures feel like 100 to 110 degrees Monday across much of M

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA names building for moonwalker Neil Armstrong NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon when the Apollo 11 mission landed there 45 years

    July 21, 2014

  • Minnesota man loses relatives in airliner crash Drew Ryder of Willmar says victims included his brother, sister-in-law

    July 21, 2014