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Session 2000 At A Glance


Governor Ventura vetoed a bill that would have required women to receive information about risks, alternatives and fetal development, then wait 24 hours before having abortions in most cases. Another bill allocating money to homeless youth was amended on the House floor to keep public money from going to organizations that provide or promote abortions. Some lawmakers believe Ventura will veto the bill because of that provision. He has yet to consider the measure. Last month, a bill was blocked that would have expanded the scope of charitable donations by state employees over fears that the money could go to groups that provide abortions.

A bill that modified feedlot regulations to reduce odors and lessen manure runoff into lakes and streams got Governor Ventura's signature. The legislation would require many livestock farmers to develop a manure management plan or be trained in spreading manure. Existing farms with 300 to 1,000 animal units - defined as one slaughter steer, one heifer or a horse - could choose to develop a manure management plan or get at least three hours of training to become certified manure applicators. Feedlots with fewer than 300 animal units would be bound by the rules as well, but they would not have to develop manure plans or become certified spreaders.

The Legislature agreed to cap vehicle registration fees at $99 once a car is three years old. Governor Ventura came up with the plan as an alternative to his original idea of creating a flat $75 rate for all vehicles. Buyers would pay the same as they do now to register brand new cars in the first year, but the registration fee would drop to $189 in year two and $99 in year three. After any car turns 11 model years old, the rate bottoms out at $35.

The bill that borrows money for construction projects reached $610 million. The University of Minnesota would get $100 million, including $18.5 million for an art building and $35 million for a molecular cellular biology building. Another $131 million would go to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, including $12.5 million to keep Anoka-Hennepin Technical College open. There's also $58 million for a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension lab and office, and Gov. Jesse Ventura would receive $44 million for transitways.

Governor Ventura signed into law a package of proposals designed to tighten the state's sex offender laws. The bill increases accounting of registered offenders and provides $18 million in seed money for a statewide computer network to track all criminals and help reduce probation officer caseloads. It is commonly referred to as "Katie's Law" after 19-year-old Katie Poirier of Barnum, who was abducted from a convenience store. Ventura signed into law the establishment of a new position in state government to coordinate state and local domestic and sexual violence prevention efforts. Another bill passed through both chambers would add more crimes to the state's hate crimes law. It awaits Ventura's consideration.

The House and Senate passed variations of a bill to increase penalties for multiple drunken driving offenses, but a compromise package was never finalized in conference committee. The plans would have made a fourth D-W-I in 10 years a felony punishable by a prison sentence of up to seven years. Governor Ventura did sign a bill that would make adults liable for civil damages if they give alcohol to minors who go on to hurt someone or something while intoxicated.

The Department of Natural Resources was a big winner this year. The agency will be allowed to increase hunting and fishing license fees, expected to bring in about $6 million a year. Another plan will shift about $25 million of the state's lottery money into natural resources. A third plan would have dedicated a $112 million slice of the state's sales tax to the same cause, but the measure didn't make it.

A light-rail project in Minneapolis survived several attempts to derail it. House Republicans had approved several measures that could have stopped the project, such as cutting $92 million in state spending that was approved in previous sessions. Those measures were stopped in conference committee under the threat of vetoes. The Senate and Gov. Jesse Ventura support light rail. Federal transportation officials met a crucial May First deadline, giving the go-ahead to final design status for the eleven-point-four-mile-long project.

The House and Senate reached a compromise that legislative leaders believed Governor Ventura would support. The deal allows districts to move ahead with the project-oriented profile or opt for a new, back-to-basics system called the North Star Standard. The House and Senate must both vote on the proposal. Ventura opposes major changes.

The session opened with both parties in both houses laying out lofty goals for stemming the spread of personal, medical and financial data. Hearings revealed complications surrounding proposed regulations. Some were concerned that the regulations would hurt commerce, disease-tracking and aggressive reporting. House Republicans generally favored restrictions requiring consumers to have their names removed from data-sharing lists. Senate DFLers wanted to put the onus on businesses to get consumer permission before sharing information. A conference committee did not complete work on the differences.

A $1 billion tax-relief package includes $155 million to $160 million annually in income tax reductions - 0.15 percentage point in the top and bottom brackets, and 0.20 percentage point in the middle bracket. There's another $150 million to $175 million in annual cuts from vehicle registration fee reductions, as well as a one-time sales tax rebate of about $640 million that will go to more than 2.4 million Minnesotans.

Bottlenecks and bridge repairs were high on the agenda when lawmakers returned to St. Paul, and those areas ended up with a lot of money. Bottlenecks in the Twin Cities region and corridors in greater Minnesota would get $177 million apiece. Roads and bridges would get $39 million. There's also $100 million in trunk highway construction.

Governor Ventura's marquee agenda made a last-second charge but couldn't overcome opposition in both chambers. After declaring it dead, House Speaker Steve Sviggum helped revive the issue, and the bill made it to the House floor. It was returned to committee, however, which effectively killed it for this session. In the Senate, lawmakers refused to allow the idea for a vote on the floor. The bill would have allowed voters to decide in November whether to go to a one-house Legislature.

A House proposal was turned down that would have cut welfare benefits completely to parents who didn't follow work rules for six months. It was replaced instead with a pilot project to experiment with the idea that passed the House and Senate. Supporters of the 100 percent sanctions had said it would serve both as an effort to get serious about helping those wrongfully sanctioned while cracking down on those who flout the rules. The Senate had opposed the total sanction.

After two years of legislative debate, a proposed wolf management plan is on Governor Ventura's desk. The bill would divide the state into two zones, with wolves receiving more protection in northeast Minnesota. People would be able to shoot wolves statewide if they were caught attacking or stalking livestock, pets or guard animals. Licensed trappers also could be called in to kill wolves in some cases. The plan was approved as part of a larger outdoors funding package. The wolf isn't likely to be removed from federal protection until the state adopts a management plan.