The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 17, 2014

What did 2014 Legislature do for you? Here's what



The regular scuffle over how much Minnesota should borrow for statewide construction ended in a tie. The overall package of $1.1 billion for public works is closer to what Democrats wanted, but borrowing is held to $846 million thanks to plans to get the rest in cash from the state surplus. The Capitol renovation gets the most dough, while Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud get long-sought money to help with civic center projects. Have a pet project nearby, find out if it made the cut:


Vaping is trending, and public health advocates wanted the state to clamp down hard on electronic cigarettes by treating them the same as Joe Camel — that is, banning them in most public establishments under the state's indoor air act. They argued that e-cigarettes that heat liquid nicotine into a vapor may endanger public health and are likely to hook new generations of kids for life. Too many lawmakers, and Gov. Mark Dayton, had reservations about that until more research on the vapors is done, and they settled on a range of steps aimed at keeping the devices away from minors.


Lawmakers took a rare step to tighten gun laws. People convicted of certain child or domestic abuse charges in Minnesota now have to give up their firearms. People hit with an order of protection will lose them at least temporarily. Supporters said the move would cut down on fatal instances of domestic violence.


A student-driven effort to make clear lawmakers can't avoid arrest for drunk driving and other crimes during session stalled. The constitutional clause dates to frontier days and was originally intended to avert political dirty tricks by arresting someone to keep them from being present for votes. Lawmakers who stood in the way say the supposed get-out-of-jail-free-cards legislators are issued don't actually prevent arrest and argued an educational campaign should suffice.

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