Policy provisions by wxv15919


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years following plant closure in order to keep      regarding the Minnesota
the plant salable while the state and economic      property insurance place-
development groups seek a new owner.                ment facility, or the Min-
   Under the law, plant owners will be required     nesota FAIR Plan. FAIR
to rotate major equipment, keep the facility        stands for fair access to
heated to enhance machinery lubrication, and        insurance requirements. It
maintain fire prevention systems, security, and     is overseen by the Depart-
utilities.                                          ment of Commerce.
   Industry representatives testifying at the          Established by the Leg-
committee level noted that many maintenance         islature, the plan provides
chores were left undone at the 2001 closure of      limited property insur-
the LTV Steel Mining Company plant in Hoyt          ance when individuals are
Lakes. Those opposed to the bill said it            unable to get insurance
micromanages plant operations and doesn’t           from the private market.
allow the state to negotiate plant closure du-      However, policies are not                                                      PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
ties on a case-by-case basis.                       as desirable or as afford- Homeowners must be informed of a state insurance plan when their
   HF359/SF308*/CH113                               able as private insurance homeowner’s insurance policies are canceled, under a new law.
                                                    company plans. Minne-
              Policy provisions                     sota residential and commercial property new law effective May 23, 2003.
           (See Agriculture, page 9)                owners who have been unable to obtain prop-         The new law encompasses many technical
                                                    erty insurance are eligible for coverage, pro- changes — save for the bankruptcy amount
                                                    vided the property meets minimum limitation — to current laws governing the
                                                    requirements.                                     Minnesota Insurance Guaranty Association.

     INSURANCE                                         The plan is financed through premiums            Specifically, it will add to the list of insur-
                                                    paid by customers. When shortfalls arise, the ance types that are excluded from the guar-
                                                    plan’s member insurance companies are as- anty program. Exempt are fidelity and surety
Health insurance purchasing alliances
                                                    sessed a fee according to their share of the bonds, and insurance of warranties and ser-
   A new law will modify regulations govern-
                                                    market.                                           vice contracts. The new law also broadens the
ing health care purchasing alliances, particu-
                                                       The new law will also change the require- definition of those who can file claims with
larly as they relate to stop-loss coverage.
                                                    ments for and terms of FAIR board members, the guaranty association to include govern-
   Effective Aug. 1, 2003, the law will allow the
                                                    as well as clarify how rates are set by the De- ment entities.
commissioner of the Department of Human
                                                    partment of Commerce, how commissions are           The nonprofit guaranty group, controlled
Services to accept grants from public or private
                                                    paid to agents, and how written premiums are by a board of directors, was created by state
entities for the stop-loss fund. Generally, stop-
                                                    used to determine the plan’s assessment base. statute in 1971. Every insurer selling property
loss funds are available to reimburse insurers
                                                    Finally, the law will allow rejection of cover- and casualty insurance must belong to the
for unusually large costs so that insurers may
                                                    age without property inspection if the rejec- association. Members are assessed a certain
share risk.
                                                    tion is not related to the property’s condition. percentage of their premiums to pay for the
   It will also allow third-party contributions,
                                                       In an unrelated provision, the new law will claims of the insured in the event an insur-
which have the effect of lowering premiums for
                                                    also require health insurance providers to ance company becomes insolvent.
those purchasing the coverage.
                                                    notify clients that the insured’s children who      Every state has an insurance guaranty pro-
   Purchasing alliances are formed by a group
                                                    reach the age they are no longer eligible for gram, according to law sponsors Rep. Jeff
of employers who buy employee health cover-
                                                    coverage as dependents continue to be cov- Johnson (R-Plymouth) and Sen. Linda Scheid
age as a group to pool risk and reduce premi-
                                                    ered if they are disabled or if they are students (DFL-Brooklyn Park).
ums. They are typically used by small busi-
                                                    who can take only a reduced course load due         HF946*/SF776/CH74
                                                    to a disability.
   The new law was sponsored by Rep. Brad
                                                       Rep. Tony Sertich (DFL-Chisholm) and Sen.
Finstad (R-New Ulm) and Sen. Sheila Kiscaden
                                                    Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park) were the
(IP-Rochester).                                                                                                   Terrorism coverage
   HF266*/SF224/CH20                                                                                    A new law removes a prior legal requirement
                                                                                                      that Minnesota insurance companies auto-
                                                                                                      matically provide terrorism coverage. Instead,
                                                                                                      those companies may now offer it to custom-
Notifying homeowners of cancellation                       Insurance guaranty changes                 ers for an additional fee.
  Homeowners must be informed of a Min-                Individuals with pending property and ca-        Sponsored by Rep. Tim Wilkin (R-Eagan)
nesota state insurance plan when their              sualty insurance claims who find that their and Sen. Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park),
homeowner’s insurance policies are canceled,        insurance company has gone bankrupt could the law took effect April 8.
under a new law effective Aug. 1, 2003.             collect no more than $10 million from the           Prior to the new law, federal law required
  The new law largely clarifies other statutes      state’s insurance guaranty program, under a commercial property fire insurance policies to

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include coverage for acts of foreign terrorism,                                                              cases. Guardians ad litem serve as advocates
even if the policy expressly stated that terror-                                                             in court proceedings for children whose wel-
ism was not covered. That special terrorism                                                                  fare is of some concern. (Art. 7, Sec. 4)
measure, which was temporary, was invoked
through the federal Terrorism Risk Insurance                                                                 Probation changes
Act following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in                                                                 Minnesota’s probation officers will gain
2001.                                                                                                        new powers to punish the offenders they
  The law applies only to commercial prop-                                                                   monitor, beginning Aug. 1, 2003. (Art. 6,
erty; residential insurance is excluded.                                                                     Secs. 1-6)
  HF267*/SF176/CH10                                                                                             In an effort to take some cases out of over-
                                                                                                             burdened district courts, the provision allows
                 Victims rights laws                                                                         probation officers in certain counties to mete
                 (See Crime, page 19)                                                                        out sanctions to offenders who commit tech-
                                                                                                             nical violations of their agreements.
             Funding state departments                                                                          Nearly any violation of probationary terms
              (See Government, page 32)                                                                      that does not constitute an additional crimi-
      Assuring long-term care coverage                                                                       nal offense will be considered a technical vio-
                 (See Health, page 37)                                                                       lation. Under the law, probation officers set up
                                                                                                             a meeting with the offender and other inter-
                   Reducing costs                                                                            ested parties to discuss appropriate penalties
                 (See Health, page 41)                                                                       for the violation.
             Funding for roads, transit                                                                         The meetings are voluntary and offenders
             (See Transportation, page 64)                                                                   can request a traditional court hearing where
                                                                                                             a district judge imposes the penalties. How-
              Ensuring coverage exists                                                                       ever, the probation officer may initiate revo-
             (See Bills in Limbo, page 89)                                                                   cation proceedings while parties await the
                                                                                 PHOTO BY ANDREW VONBANK
                                                     Inmates in most state prisons and local jails can be    court hearing. (Art. 6, Sec. 4)
                                                                                                                Any sanctions worked out by a probation
       LAW                                           double-bunked as necessary, under a new law.
                                                     The law applies to all prisons except for the highest   officer under the proposal will still have to be
                                                     security institutions.                                  formally approved by a judge.
   Courts, corrections, safety funding                                                                          Penalties the officers may impose include
                                                     Court system
   A new law provides $1.4 billion in general                                                                electronic monitoring, community service,
                                                         The law appropriates about $462.4 million
fund appropriations for the state’s judicial,                                                                required daily reporting to a day report cen-
                                                     to the state’s court system, including the Min-
corrections, and public safety systems for the                                                               ter, random drug testing, education programs,
                                                     nesota Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals,
next biennium. The law will also raise an esti-                                                              mental health counseling, or chemical depen-
                                                     Tax Court, and statewide district courts. It al-
mated $93 million in additional revenue                                                                      dency treatment or counseling.
                                                     locates an additional $99.8 million for the
through a series of increased fees for court                                                                    The provision is limited to officers in the
                                                     state’s public defenders, as well. (Art. 1,
system and public safety services.                                                                           29 counties that do not utilize Department of
                                                     Secs. 2-8)
   The 2004-05 budget is only slightly larger                                                                Corrections probation services. Those coun-
                                                         In addition, the law raises a number of court
than the amount appropriated for 2002-03,                                                                    ties include about 13 percent of the state’s pro-
                                                     filing fees to account for expected revenue
though a number of individual adjustments                                                                    bationary offenders.
                                                     shortfalls. Included in those increases are the
were made in the appropriations to account
for an anticipated $4.2 billion deficit at the end                                                           Corrections
                                                     • tax court appeal filing fees (Art. 2, Sec. 1);
of the biennium.                                                                                                For the Department of Corrections, which
                                                     • civil filing fees (Art. 2, Sec. 2);
   The law will also change some criminal of-                                                                operates the adult and juvenile prisons in the
                                                     • subpoena issuance fees (Art. 2, Sec. 2);
fense statutes, establishing new and alterna-                                                                state, the law will provide $723.4 million for
                                                     • transcript and order fees (Art. 2, Sec. 2);
tive penalties and new felony-level crimes. The                                                              the biennium. (Art. 1, Sec. 13)
                                                     • conciliation court fees (Art. 2, Sec. 3);
state will continue collecting DNA samples                                                                      In addition, the law will allow inmates in
                                                     • fees for filing an appeal (Art. 2, Sec. 4); and
from felons and change housing requirements                                                                  the state prisons and local jails to be double-
                                                     • fees for public defense services (Art. 3, Sec. 4).
for the Department of Corrections.                                                                           bunked as necessary, if the construction of the
                                                         The law also directs the supreme court to
   Sponsors of the law were Rep. Steve Smith                                                                 facility would allow such arrangements. All
                                                     review the financial consequences of the fees
(R-Mound) and Sen. Leo Foley (DFL-Coon                                                                       state prisons will allow multiple occupancy
                                                     and report the findings to the Legislature by
Rapids). Appropriations in the law are effec-                                                                except for the highest security institutions.
                                                     Jan. 15 of each year.
tive July 1, 2003, and policy provisions take                                                                (Art. 5, Secs. 4, 12, 13)
                                                         For more information on specific fees and
affect as noted. The following are select provi-                                                                Inmates will be limited to two meals per day
                                                     how much they were raised, refer to the fee
sions included in the measure.                                                                               on weekends and holidays under the law, ex-
                                                     chart on page 68.
   2003 Special Session: HF2/SF2*/CH2                                                                        cept if dietary or health constraints require
                                                         Courts will no longer be required to appoint
                                                                                                             additional meals. (Art. 5, Sec. 5)
                                                     guardians ad litem in truancy and runaway

                                                                         L AW S


   Felony offenders with sentences less than six
months will serve their sentences in a work
farm, county jail, or other prescribed facility,
under the law. Felony sentences greater than
six months must be served in a state prison
facility. (Art. 5, Sec. 7, 9)
   The new law also repeals a prior law that
required the department to pursue incarcer-
ating felony drunken driving offenders in pri-
vate prisons. (Art. 5, Sec. 18)

Public safety
   The law includes a total biennial appropria-
tion of nearly $140.6 million for the Department
of Public Safety, which includes the Bureau of
Criminal Apprehension and division of emer-
gency management. (Art. 1, Sec. 9)
   The new law will cut $6 million to battered
women’s programs and shelters.
   A number of fees are established and in-
creased in the law, to cover certain adminis-
                                                                                                                                       PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
trative costs in the department. For example,
                                                   Felony offenders with less than six months remaining will serve out their sentences in a work farm,
the bureau will collect fees to fingerprint
                                                   county jail, or other prescribed facility, under a new law. Felony sentences greater than six months must
people for employment or licensing purposes        be served in a state prison facility.
and for conducting non-law enforcement re-
lated fingerprint-based background checks.         New crimes, penalties                                 The defendant immediately serves some
(Art. 4, Sec. 7-11, 13)                               A provision in the new law will make at-           portion — usually a third — of that sentence
   The bureau must also develop an Internet        tempting to manufacture methamphetamine               in jail. The judge orders another third of the
Web site for public criminal history data by       a felony, effective Aug. 1, 2003. It is modeled       sentence to be served a year later and the last
July 1, 2004. (Art. 4, Sec. 1)                     after an Iowa law. Previously, police had to          third a year after that. However, a defendant
   Monthly Internet or dial-up access to the       catch someone in the act before they could be         can earn “forgiveness” of each year’s incarcera-
criminal justice data network will cost $35 to     charged with a felony. (Art. 8, Secs. 2, 3)           tion if he or she stays sober and gets the back-
the public and $15 for criminal justice agen-         A new $3 surcharge will be part of court-          ing of their probation officer. A certain
cies. (Art. 4, Sec. 1) Public defenders are not    processed parking tickets issued in the state,        amount of the probation is usually spent on
subject to the fee. (Art. 3, Sec. 8)               generally for non-local offenses, with the            remote electronic alcohol monitoring, which
   The new law also establishes a permit pro-      money going to the state’s general fund. (Art.        requires random breath tests from a device
cess for indoor fireworks displays, effective      8, Secs. 6, 7)                                        connected to a defendant’s telephone. (Art. 9,
May 29, 2003. (Art. 4, Sec. 28)                       Effective Aug. 1, 2003, anyone committing          Secs. 2-11)
                                                   identity theft that affects eight or more people         According to supporters of this policy, one
DNA collection                                     or effects a combined loss of $35,000 or more         of the main arguments in favor of this sen-
   Minnesota will continue collecting DNA          will be guilty of a felony and subject to up to       tencing scheme is that it puts the burden on
samples from convicted felons, under the law.      20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. In ad-        the offender to succeed on probation and
(Art. 4, Sec. 24)                                  dition, using another person’s identity in the        demonstrate that success to the court. In con-
   As a part of anti-terrorism legislation         commission of a crime will be considered one          trast, traditional probation puts the offender
passed in 2002 and initially scheduled to ex-      of several aggravating factors by the court           in a more passive role and requires the proba-
pire this year, the state began taking DNA         imposing a sentence. (Art. 8, Secs. 9, 18)            tion officer and prosecutor to prove alleged
samples from anyone convicted of any felony-          Assaulting a member of a community                 shortcomings.
level crime for use in future analyses. The law    group targeted at crime prevention efforts,              In response to cases where individuals ille-
also applies to juveniles convicted of felony-     such as a neighborhood patrol, will be con-           gally accessed police and fire department
level crimes, but does not require samples         sidered a gross misdemeanor, effective                emergency radio frequencies, the new law
from juveniles currently serving jail time.        May 29, 2003. (Art. 8, Sec. 8)                        makes interfering with emergency communi-
   The state has required that DNA samples            In addition, an unconventional sentencing          cations a felony, subject to up to three years in
be collected from sex offenders since 1988 and     technique that has shown success in Minne-            prison. The provision is effective Aug. 1, 2003.
from people convicted of certain violent and       sota will be specifically allowed in state stat-      Officials’ cellular phone communications will
property crimes since 1999, but last year’s law    ute for use in drunken driving cases, beginning       also be covered. Previously such offenses were
was the first to require specimens from all        Aug. 1, 2003. Called “staggered sentencing,” the      considered obstructing the legal process, a
felony offenders. In addition, it also requires    idea allows a judge to impose a jail sentence         misdemeanor. (Art. 4, Sec. 27)
anyone currently serving prison sentences for      on someone convicted of drunken driving.
felony crimes to submit DNA before release.

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Public defense
   A few changes are also made in the law re-
lated to the state’s Board of Public Defense.
   In addition to raising the co-payment for
anyone receiving the legal services of a public
defender, the new law will allow public defend-
ers to recapture the co-payments under the
Revenue Recapture Act. That law allows agen-
cies, as defined by law, to recover owed obli-
gations greater than $25, including criminal
fines and financial obligations ordered by a
court, by taking from tax refunds, lottery win-
nings, and other designated “refunds,” dis-
bursed by the state. (Art. 3, Sec. 1)
   The new law also will deny public defender
representation in appeals where the defendant                                                                                          PHOTO BY ANDREW VONBANK
has pleaded guilty or the public defender finds       State statutes regarding joint and several liability, which provides a way for an injured person or
the appeal is non-meritorious. (Art. 3, Secs. 3, 6)   organization to collect damages even if a liable party is unable to pay its portion, are modified under a
                                                      new law.
Public safety officer benefits
   The new law specifies that death benefits for        Supporters of the change said it isn’t fair to      that might otherwise choose not to air impor-
public safety officers killed in the line of duty     make someone who is less than one-fifth li-           tant information for fear of being sued.
will be paid to an individual’s estate if he or       able pay all of someone’s damages.                      Sen. Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen)
she does not have a spouse, dependant chil-             Opponents said the current practice pre-            sponsored the legislation in the Senate.
dren, or dependant parents. (Art. 4, Secs. 2, 3)      vents victims from being uncompensated                  HF628*/SF673/CH65
   When Minneapolis police officer Melissa            when the person mostly responsible for dam-
Schmidt was killed in August 2002, her family         ages is uninsured or bankrupt.
did not qualify to receive money from the               Rep. Paul Kohls (R-Victoria) and Sen. Linda
state’s public safety officer’s benefit account.      Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park) sponsored the                            Reporting crimes
Under prior law, without any of the qualifica-        law. The provisions were initially contained in          People who honestly try to report crimes to
tions above, the state would make no payment          HF75, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Johnson                  law enforcement officials could not be held
of death benefits.                                    (R-Plymouth).                                         accountable for damages arising from their
   The provision is retroactive to July 1, 2002,        HF1114/SF872*/CH71                                  actions, under a new law.
and covers police officers, firefighters, correc-                                                              Effective Aug. 1, 2003, people who seek assis-
tions officers, ambulance drivers, arson inves-                                                             tance from law enforcement or who report ille-
tigators, paramedics, and hazardous materials                     Broadcast immunity                        gal activities they witness will be immune from
responders.                                              Broadcasters who unknowingly pass along            lawsuits arising from any damages their actions
                                                      incorrect information as part of an emergency         may cause, as long as they act with good inten-
                                                      broadcast will be immune from liability for           tions. People who deliberately mislead police or
                                                      damages that occur as a result of those broad-        misreport a crime will still be liable for the re-
             Joint and several liability
                                                      casts, under a new law.                               sults of their action under the new law.
   A significant piece of tort reform legislation
                                                         Effective Aug. 1, 2003, the new law protects          According to Rep. Rob Eastlund (R-Isanti),
became law when a measure modifying
                                                      Web sites, television stations, and radio sta-        House sponsor, the issue arose when an off-
Minnesota’s joint and several liability statutes
                                                      tions from lawsuits resulting from informa-           duty 911 operator in his district reported an
was signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
                                                      tion relayed through the Emergency Alert              erratic driver he believed might be drunk. “The
   Joint and several liability provides a way for
                                                      System, Amber Alert System, or other emer-            result of that was (the operator) got sued and
an injured person or organization to collect
                                                      gency notifications. Those systems are de-            ended up having to defend himself in civil
damages even if a liable party is unable to pay
                                                      signed to quickly spread word of emergency            court,” Eastlund said. “He was exonerated but
its portion. Previous law stated that courts
                                                      information in the event of severe weather, war,      he had a bill to pay for his legal defense.”
could force a defendant assigned at least 15
                                                      or child abduction.                                      The law permits the awarding of reasonable
percent of the liability in a civil case to pay any
                                                         Under the law, broadcasters cannot be held         attorney’s fees to people who are sued but
costs other defendants are unable to pay
                                                      liable for damages if the broadcasts are unin-        found not liable under the law.
                                                      tentionally inaccurate and cause damage as a             Sen. Leo Foley (DFL-Coon Rapids) was the
   Effective Aug. 1, 2003, the new law moves
                                                      result.                                               Senate sponsor.
the 15 percent threshold to 50 percent and
                                                         Current law requires television and radio sta-        HF700*/SF722/CH35
eliminates a provision that can force defen-
dants found less than 15 percent liable to pay        tions to only broadcast messages from the presi-
up to four times that percentage under the            dent and allows them to choose which other
same circumstances.                                   emergency alerts to air. House sponsor Rep. Paul
                                                      Kohls (R-Victoria) said the bill protects stations

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Guardians for vulnerable Minnesotans                      Property-related adjustments                            Obtaining search warrants
   A new law will make changes to state stat-           A new law enacts several administrative                        (See Crime, page 20)
utes governing guardianship of children and          changes to property law, specifically as it re-
                                                                                                                   Fighting financial crimes
incapacitated adults.                                lates to registered property, governed by Tor-
                                                                                                                       (See Crime, page 20)
   Effective Aug. 1, 2003, the law repeals and       rens provisions, and certificates of possessory
replaces dozens of sections of current state law,    title. The changes were recommended by the                      Breath test accuracy
closely following the recommendation of a            Minnesota State Bar Association.                                  (See Crime, page 20)
Minnesota State Bar Association committee               Two systems govern real estate law: abstract,
appointed to review the laws.                        which involves a third party making a deter-                       Arson penalties
   The new law will close loopholes and clarify      mination regarding the chain of ownership                         (See Crime, page 21)
some legal processes, according to its House         over the history of the property, and Torrens,                     Parental history
sponsor, Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls).               which simply certifies the parties who cur-                      (See Family, page 31)
   Among other things, the legislation more          rently own or have mortgages and other in-
clearly defines the roles of a “guardian” and a      terests in the property.                                          Custody changes
“conservator” as someone who acts on a                  The new law makes changes in the way Tor-                      (See Family, page 31
person’s behalf and someone who manages a            rens property is registered. (Art. 1, Secs. 1-13)            Abortion consent measure
person’s estate, respectively.                          The two registration systems are certificates                 (See Health, page 37)
   In the area of guardianship for minors, a         of title and certificates of possessory title. The
court will be allowed to appoint a guardian          difference between the two is that the former            Defining commitment examiners
for a child with the parents’ consent or if the      requires the applicant to go through the full                    (See Health, page 38)
parents’ rights have been terminated, or they        Torrens process, which includes a court pro-                    Expanded job duties
are unable or unwilling to exercise their rights.    ceeding. However, the latter process is only                     (See Health, page 40)
It specifies who may apply to be a child’s           available in situations where county title ex-
guardian and how that application should be          aminers show no complications with respect                    Condemnation hearings
made. Guardians are specifically allowed to          to the title.                                                   (See Housing, page 44)
apply for state benefits and services, entitled         Specifically, the new law allows an owner of
                                                                                                                  Manufactured home titles
to “reasonable compensation,” and liable for         multiple pieces of land to register them all in
                                                                                                                     (See Housing, page 45)
injury to the child caused by a third party to       one application. It will also eliminate the re-
the same extent a parent would be.                   quirement that an affidavit of purchaser be               Statute of limitations for abuse
   For incapacitated individuals, the law will       filed. That provision is not required under                  (See Bills in Limbo, page 75)
allow parents or spouses to appoint a guard-         abstract land or in other Torrens systems.
                                                                                                                   Enhancing abuse penalty
ian for someone they believe to be incapaci-            The new law also makes some changes re-
                                                                                                                  (See Bills in Limbo, page 76)
tated in the event the parent or spouse is           lated to mortgages. (Art. 2, Secs. 1-4) Among
unable to care for the person. They will be          the changes, liens must be filed within one year                    Job references
given the ability to limit the powers of the         of filing intentions to claim a lien and a buyer’s           (See Bills in Limbo, page 82)
guardians they appoint.                              interest in a property under a contract for deed
   Another provision of the law creates a list       is not encumbered by a mortgage once the                    Child support changes stall
of priorities for judges to use when appoint-        buyer pays off the contract and obtains the                  (See Bills in Limbo, page 83)
ing a guardian for an incapacitated person. In       deed.                                                          Surrogate pregnancies
order, those priorities will be:                        The new law is effective Aug. 1, 2003. It was             (See Bills in Limbo, page 83)
• the current active guardian;                       sponsored by Rep. Tom Pugh (DFL-South St.
• someone appointed under a health care              Paul) and Sen. Thomas Neuville                                 Data collection stalled
   directive;                                        (R-Northfield).                                              (See Bills in Limbo, page 86)
• a spouse or someone identified by the spouse          HF112*/SF92/CH5                                           Seatbelt ‘gag’ rule remains
   in a will;                                                                                                     (See Bills in Limbo, page 89)
• an adult child;
• a parent or someone identified by a parent in                 Later bar closing time
   a will; or                                                    (See Business, page 15)
• an adult with whom the person resided for
                                                                                                              LOCAL GOVERNMENT
   six months.
                                                               Correcting burial errors
   The law specifies that incapacitated people                 (See Consumers, page 18)                        Recuperating emergency costs
will not lose their right to vote unless the court                   Identity theft                          A new law will clarify that cities can place
expressly takes it away.                                          (See Crime, page 19)                    liens on an individual’s property if the expense
   Sen. Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley) was the                                                                 of an emergency service, such as extinguish-
Senate sponsor.                                                  Statements allowed                       ing a fire, is not paid by the recipient.
   HF166/SF112*/CH12                                              (See Crime, page 19)                       Cities have had this right since 1997, but
                                                                                                          clarification was needed, according to law
                                                              Death certificate issuance
                                                                                                          sponsors Rep. Greg Blaine (R-Little Falls) and
                                                                  (See Crime, page 20)
                                                                                                          Sen. Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley).

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                                                                                                                         Conflict of interest change
                                                                                                                    A new law will address conflicts arising for
                                                                                                                 elected township supervisors whose private
                                                                                                                 employers gain contracts for township
                                                                                                                    Sponsored by Rep. Torrey Westrom
                                                                                                                 (R-Elbow Lake) and Sen. Dallas Sams (DFL-
                                                                                                                 Staples), the new law states that a township
                                                                                                                 may enter into a contract even if a township
                                                                                                                 supervisor is an employee of the contractor,
                                                                                                                 provided the supervisor has no role in prepar-
                                                                                                                 ing the contractor’s bid or negotiating the
                                                                                                                    In addition, it states that the supervisor is
                                                                                                                 not precluded from serving as a township of-
                                                                                                                 ficial during the contract term provided that
                                                                                                                 the township supervisor abstains from voting
                                                                                                                 on any official action relating to the contract.
                                                                                                                    Under prior law, a township supervisor in
                                                                                                                 such a situation had to choose between re-
                                                                                                                 maining an elected official and employment.
                                                                                        PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
                                                                                                                 This exacerbates the problem of finding people
A new law clarifies that cities can place liens on an individual’s property if the recipient does not pay the
expense of an emergency service, such as extinguishing a fire.                                                   interested in serving on township boards,
                                                                                                                 Westrom said.
   The law takes effect Aug. 1, 2003.                   the territory of the local government unit                  The problem came to the legislator’s atten-
   The legislation arose from a May 2001 fire           could previously be chosen. If no main office            tion last fall following a situation in Carlos
at Larson Auto Wrecking in Blaine that cost             for a qualified newspaper existed in the juris-          Township. Strom Construction discovered it
more than $107,000 to extinguish.                       diction, but one or more qualified newspaper             couldn’t place a bid because one of its employ-
   Involved in the 24-hour fire fight were 12           maintained a secondary office there, one of              ees was on the township board, said owner
firefighting agencies and nine other entities           them had to be designated.                               Paul Strom.
and contractors, including the Department of               Effective Aug. 1, 2003, the new law will al-             That employee, Dwayne Waldorf, said the
Natural Resources, which dropped water on               low the legal notices to be published in any             township board and its engineer were unaware
the blaze from special airplanes and helicop-           qualified newspaper — even if it doesn’t have            of the conflict-of-interest law until informed
ters. The fire was difficult to fight because each      an office in the jurisdiction — provided cer-            by the board’s attorney.
of the initial 100 cars reported to be on fire          tain criteria are met.                                      The exception that the new law will provide
had to be picked off the ground with a special             Supporters said the law is good for compe-            is similar to the exception for city council
metal clamp vehicle and sprayed with foam               tition because it doesn’t bind local govern-             members who are employees of a utility that
agents.                                                 ments to designating, regardless of price, what          has a franchise with the city. Another similar
   The agencies involved wanted to place a lien         may be the only newspaper with an office in              provision passed into law in 2001 provided
against the property so that expenses could be          the jurisdiction.                                        that city officials, in cities with less than 5,000
recovered should the property ever be sold. But            The new law lays out a high threshold to be           population, could participate in federal grant
both the fire department’s legal counsel and            met before local government units can choose             programs even if their businesses were affected
the city attorney felt the previous state statute       an out-of-jurisdiction newspaper. The news-              passed into law in 2001.
was not clear enough regarding liens for emer-          paper must be a qualified medium of official                The new law is effective Aug. 1, 2003.
gency service.                                          and legal publication, the publisher must                   HF923*/SF911/CH119
   HF428*/SF354/CH64                                    swear that circulation reaches 75 percent or
                                                        more of the households in the jurisdiction, the
                                                        newspaper must have provided coverage of the
                                                        local governing body’s proceedings in the past                  Title examiner employment
       Official newspaper designation
                                                        and will continue to do so, and the governing               Scott and Wright counties will have more
  A new law will allow local governmental
                                                        body must vote unanimously to designate the              flexibility in hiring examiners of title, under a
units to choose out-of-jurisdiction newspa-
                                                        newspaper.                                               new law.
pers for official public notices.
                                                           The law received support from the Minne-                 Examiners of title are appointed in each
  Under longstanding law, each township, city,
                                                        sota Newspaper Association.                              county by district court judges. They serve as
county, school district, or other local govern-
                                                           Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) and               legal advisers to county registrars in examin-
ment unit must designate annually one offi-
                                                        Sen. Claire Robling (R-Jordan) sponsored the             ing applicable titles to real property that must
cial newspaper of record for all legal and
                                                        law.                                                     be recorded and registered.
public notices, including meeting minutes.
                                                           HF944*/SF1062/CH59                                       Under long-standing law, counties with
  Only newspapers maintaining offices within
                                                                                                                 populations of less than 75,000 may hire

                                                                         L AW S


examiners of title on a fee-for-service basis.        Prior to the new law, only St. Louis County               Clarifying interpretation
Counties beyond the population threshold —          could require officers and classified employ-          Since 1995, a 60-day rule has been in state
save for Stearns, Dakota, and Olmsted coun-         ees to be removed from their jobs in the event      statute that requires all executive branch agen-
ties — have to employ examiners of titles as        they file for election to the county office by      cies and political subdivisions to approve or
employees.                                          which they are employed. The new law repeals        deny a written request for certain actions
   Effective Aug. 1, 2003, the new law adds Scott   this section of law.                                within that time else the request is approved.
and Wright counties to the list of counties with      Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown), who               “That is a good law and this does not change
populations larger than 75,000 exempt from          sponsored the law with Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-          that,” said Rep. Steve Strachan
the mandatory employee requirement.                 Cook), said she did not know the origins of the     (R-Farmington), House sponsor of the new
   The sponsors were Rep. Mark Buesgens             current statute. But, she said, “strong” sheriffs   law. “However there has been quite a bit of liti-
(R-Jordan) and Sen. Claire Robling (R-Jordan).      have used it to limit opposition.                   gation regarding the interpretation of this law
   HF554/SF422*/CH54                                  Testifying for the legislation before a House     and this bill clarifies what constitutes an ap-
                                                    committee were the St. Louis County Deputy          plicant, and what constitutes a denial.”
                                                    Sheriff Association and the Minnesota Police           As an example, Strachan pointed out dur-
                                                    and Peace Officers Association.                     ing debate that the original law did not specify
           Controlling the cash                       The new law is effective Aug. 1, 2003.            that a tie vote on a resolution by a township
   Aitkin County will control money received          HF204/SF174*/CH70                                 board constitutes a denial. The new law now
from or designated for the operation of the                                                             specifies that a failure to approve a request
county’s Long Lake Conservation Center, un-                                                             constitutes denial.
der a new law.                                                                                             He said that all stakeholders agreed on the
   Previously the dollars went into a separate                    Job descriptions                      law’s provisions — not just the cities, coun-
fund under the control of the county park              The Minneapolis mayor will have the au-          ties and townships, but also developers and
commission’s secretary-treasurer, an ap-            thority to define the jobs, duties, and titles of   realtors. “This keeps the focus on policy and
pointed official. The change was recom-             top-level executive and management staff            not technicalities,” he said.
mended by the state auditor in order to place       working for the city, under a new law.                 A subdivision regulation review process and
the funds under the control of the elected             The law will change special laws enacted         plat review process are exempted from the
county officials.                                   during the 1980s that defined precisely the job     60-day rule, under the law.
   In addition, the law provides that the           titles and duties of appointed senior executive-       The law, effective for requests submitted af-
center’s books are subject to examination by        level positions for the City of Minneapolis.        ter June 1, 2003, was also sponsored by Sen.
the state auditor, regardless of whether the cen-   Over time, however, organizational goals and        Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth).
ter receives any state appropriations. Previ-       policy issues have changed. Seeking legislative        HF433*/SF486/CH41
ously, the books were subject to an                 approval every time an employee description
examination only to the extent the center re-       changes has become cumbersome, according
ceives aid from appropriations. This change is      to the city.
primarily technical. A 1973 law abolished the          Under the law, the Minneapolis City Coun-         Met Council governance of Rockford
public examiner and transferred the duties to       cil will, by ordinance, be able to establish po-       Effective Aug. 1, 2003, a new law will allow
the state auditor, however, it could not be cor-    sitions in the unclassified service and to          the city of Rockford to withdraw from the
rected in this law specifically until it was        provide for terms and conditions of employ-         purview of the Metropolitan Council regional
amended.                                            ment. This change would apply largely to se-        planning agency.
   According to the conservation center’s Web       nior executive-level staff that work directly          The council serves the seven-county met-
site, its mission is “to foster proper conserva-    with department heads, the mayor, or the city       ropolitan area, save for three cities. Removed
tion citizenship by making students aware of        council, and serve at the pleasure of the mayor     in 1978 was New Prague; 1980, Northfield; and
the interdependency of humans and the envi-         or the council.                                     1983, Hanover. Each has only a portion of its
ronment.” The 760-acre site is located near            According to information from the city, the      boundaries with the metropolitan area.
Palisade, Minn.                                     city has 95 employees either serving as key            Rep. Dick Borrell (R-Waverly), House spon-
   Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL-Grand Rapids)            political staff, controlling large or sensitive     sor, said Rockford has 1,100 homes in Wright
and Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids)             operations that are accountable to                  County, which does not fall under the Metro-
sponsored the law, which is effective               policymakers, or working as public policy           politan Council purview, and 84 homes in
Aug. 1, 2003.                                       leaders who have broad citywide influence.          Hennepin County, which is in the council’s
   HF770*/SF863/CH42                                These include the city coordinator, director of     jurisdiction. It’s unnecessary, said Borrell, for
                                                    public works, and the police chief. They are        the city to follow Metropolitan Council poli-
                                                    not protected by civil service commissioner         cies requiring submittal of long-range plans,
      Seeking office as employees                   rules.                                              low-income housing reports, and other paper-
   St. Louis County sheriff deputies and clas-         Effective 90 days after the city completes the   work for a small portion of the city.
sified employees will no longer have to resign      local approval process, the law was sponsored          Rockford supported the bill. Sen. Mark
from their jobs when seeking election to the        by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls) and Sen.         Ourada (R-Buffalo) was the Senate sponsor.
county office employing them, under a new           Linda Higgins (DFL-Mpls).                              HF415/SF512*/CH8
law.                                                   HF389/SF421*/CH115

                                                                  L AW S

              $231 million law signed                      Labor contracts                       • the council is permitted to directly charge
                (See Bonding, page 10)               (See Bills in Limbo, page 77)                  industrial users for their use of regional
                                                                                                    wastewater treatment services, rather than
               Later bar closing time                      Mandate opt out                          indirectly charge them through the city they
                (See Business, page 15)              (See Bills in Limbo, page 80)                  are in;
                    Identity theft                   Abolishing rail authorities                 • permission is given for the council to buy and
                 (See Crime, page 19)                (See Bills in Limbo, page 90)                  sell energy futures contracts in order to level
                                                                                                    out the council’s energy expenses as fuel
                  Paying for parks                    Opting out of mandates                        costs fluctuate on the market; and
             (See Development, page 21)              (See Bills in Limbo, page 90)               • a local government is provided the specific
                   School funding                    Shooting ranges under fire                     authority in state statute to challenge a coun-
               (See Education, page 22)              (See Bills in Limbo, page 90)                  cil decision regarding its comprehensive
                                                                                                    guide plan if the council decides the city plan
              Ballot question deadline           Overseeing Metrodome operations                    contains a substantial departure from met-
                (See Elections, page 26)             (See Bills in Limbo, page 90)                  ropolitan system plans.
             Township special elections                                                             In addition, the new law also changes the
                (See Elections, page 26)                                                         standard that must be met in order for the
                                                                                                 council to require that a local government
                   Saving money
                                                  METRO AFFAIRS                                  change its local comprehensive plan. Under
                 (See Energy, page 29)                                                           prior law, the council could require a change
                  Solid waste plans              Met Council, legislative changes                if implementation of the plan would have a
             (See Environment, page 29)         A number of policy changes to the Metro-         substantial impact on the metropolitan plan
                                             politan Council are now law, as is a slight         or contained a substantial departure. Under
               Management change             change to legislative district boundaries.          the new law, the council may require a change
             (See Environment, page 30)         The 17-member Metropolitan Council is            only if the local plan is more likely than not to
                                             the regional planning agency serving the Twin       have a substantial impact. The provision stems
              Auditing nursing homes
                                             Cities seven-county metropolitan area and           from a 2002 case involving Lake Elmo when
                 (See Health, page 41)
                                             provides essential services to the region.          the council ordered the city to plan for more
                   Reducing costs            Among its duties are to operate the region’s        growth.
                 (See Health, page 41)       largest bus system; collect and treat wastewa-         The law also provides for the legislative re-
                                             ter; plan for future growth, including the plan-    districting of House Districts 45A and 45B
              Condemnation hearings
                                             ning of parks and trails; and aid in housing        that affects about 200 residents, including Rep.
                (See Housing, page 44)
                                             opportunities for low- and moderate-income          Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal).
         Housing corporations created        families. The governor appoints council                Under the 2002 redistricting plan Carlson’s
                (See Housing, page 45)       members.                                            house was out of his district by about two
                                                The redistricting of council boundaries is       blocks. To remain in the district he moved into
       Met Council, legislative changes                                                          an apartment, but can now move back into
                                             the most significant change in the law. Just like
             (See Metro Affairs, page 56)                                                        his home and still be in his district. Minor
                                             legislative and congressional seats, the coun-
                Handgun permit law           cil districts are updated every 10 years follow-    adjustments of legislative district boundaries
                 (See Safety, page 58)       ing the census. State law requires legislative      typically occur following a complete redistrict-
                                             approval of Metropolitan Council district           ing effort.
             Hazardous duty expansion        boundaries after each federal census. Council          The law is effective June 9, 2003.
                 (See Safety, page 59)       redistricting is traditionally completed in a          Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) and Sen.
                   Wireless space            year that ends in 3, such as 2003.                  Chuck Wiger (DFL-North St. Paul) were the
                 (See Safety, page 59)          Also in the law is a provision allowing the      sponsors.
                                             governor to bypass the usual process and ap-           2003 Special Session: HF66*/SFnone/CH16
      Aid formulas, new taxing districts     point someone when an opening occurs on
                 (See Taxes, page 61)        the council within a year of an appointment.                  $231 million law signed
                Common provisions            Typically council members go through a                          (See Bonding, page 10)
                 (See Taxes, page 63)        nominating committee process with public
                                                                                                                Reducing costs
                                             meetings to collect input.
              State highway transfers                                                                         (See Health, page 41)
                                                Among other law provisions:
             (See Transportation, page 66)   • the Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Com-          Met Council governance of Rockford
   State agency rulemaking, local costs         mission is retained, but members will serve            (See Local Government, page 55)
              (See Vetoed Bills, page 73)       without compensation, other than reim-
                                                bursement for expenses associated with serv-
                                                                                                             Common provisions
                                                ing, as determined by the council. A House                    (See Taxes, page 63)
                                                provision had sought the abolishment of the

                                                                             L AW S


         Funding for roads, transit                     The new law takes effect Aug. 1, 2003.                 than most civilian jobs. Because of the salary
        (See Transportation, page 64)                   Under the program, which began in 1989,                difference, some soldiers are suffering great
                                                      the state pays for up to 80 percent tuition re-          financial hardships in serving the country for
            Another tribal casino                     imbursement for lower division programs in               periods of time up to 24 months.
         (See Bills in Limbo, page 84)                the College of Liberal Arts at the Twin Cities              Minnesota has about 18,000 National
         Abolishing rail authorities                  campus of the University of Minnesota. Guard             Guard members and reservists, 500 of whom
         (See Bills in Limbo, page 90)                members attending other public or private                are state employees. Of those employees, many
                                                      post-secondary institutions within or outside            are of higher rank in the military so the salary
    Overseeing Metrodome operations                   Minnesota also qualify for these benefits.               differential wouldn’t apply to them, Lord said.
         (See Bills in Limbo, page 90)                  Approximately 2,600 guard members now                  But for the lower ranking soldiers paid less,
      Gas tax, local sales tax options                take advantage of the benefit, said Col. Den-            the law will help them significantly.
         (See Bills in Limbo, page 95)                nis Lord, executive director of the Minnesota               The law is effective May 29, 2003.
                                                      National Guard. An additional 320 soldiers                  HF294*/SF117/CH123
             License fee revenue                      now active in the war in Iraq are expected to
         (See Bills in Limbo, page 95)                participate in the program upon their return.

     MILITARY                                                         Earning full pay
                                                         State and local government employees in the
                                                      National Guard or other military reserves may
    Tuition reimbursement extended                    qualify for a salary differential payment when                        Younger referees
   Minnesota National Guard soldiers and air-         called to active duty, under a new law.                     Youth between ages 11 and 14 will be al-
men will indefinitely receive reimbursement              The provision, sponsored by Rep. Rob                  lowed to work as assistant soccer referees, even
of their college tuition and the cost of books        Eastlund (R-Isanti) and Sen. Don Betzold                 if the players they officiate are in an older age
at current rates, under a new law.                    (DFL-Fridley), will require a state employer             bracket, under a new law effective May 3, 2003.
   Sponsored by Rep. Laura Brod (R-New                to pay any net amount of salary lost to an                  Under current law, no child under 14 years
Prague) and Sen. James Metzen (DFL-South St.          employee called to service. The salary differ-           old may be employed, save for as an actor or
Paul), the law will keep the reimbursement at         ential would apply for active service on or af-          model, newspaper carrier, or in the agricul-
80 percent. As part of the 2001 state government      ter the date the governor signs the bill.                tural field. Exemptions are allowed by the state
finance bill the rate was increased from 75 per-         Col. Dennis Lord, executive director of the           Department of Labor and Industry on an in-
cent to 80 percent. That provision was previously     Minnesota National Guard, said that lower                dividual basis, which has been done routinely
scheduled to expire June 30, 2003.                    ranking soldiers are paid less by the military           for youth sports officials working at youth
                                                                                                               sports events. Such exemptions will no longer
                                                                                                               be necessary.
                                                                                                                  The new law stipulates that assistant youth
                                                                                                               soccer referees must have adequate supervi-
                                                                                                               sion and a parent’s written permission. It dif-
                                                                                                               fers from a second law that provides a similar
                                                                                                               allowance, in that it allows children to offici-
                                                                                                               ate players who are older than they.
                                                                                                                  Rep. Ron Erhardt (R-Edina) and Sen.
                                                                                                               Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) were the

                                                                                                                              Youth officials
                                                                                                                  The second new law of 2003 dealing with
                                                                                                               employment of youth sports officials took ef-
                                                                                                               fect May 9, 2003.
                                                                                                                  The new law allows youths between 11 and
                                                                                                               14 years old to work as sports officials with-
                                                                                      PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID   out filing for a child labor law exemption.
State and local government employees in the military reserves will receive a salary differential payment       However, it restricts youth sports officials to
when called to active duty under a new law. Another law provides that Minnesota National Guard                 supervising players younger than age 14. Re-
soldiers and airmen will indefinitely receive reimbursement of their college tuition and the cost of books     quired are adult supervision and a parent’s
at current rates.                                                                                              written permission.

                                                                         L AW S

  Under current law, no child under 14 years
old may be employed, save for as an actor or       ★
model, newspaper carrier, or in the agricul-
tural field. Exemptions are allowed by the state       Assuring long-term care coverage
Department of Labor and Industry on an in-                      (See Health, page 37)
dividual basis, which has been done routinely                  Alzheimer’s training
for youth sports officials. About 2,000 such                    (See Health, page 38)
exemptions are processed by the state each
year.                                               Benefits adjusted, work plans initiated
  The department and numerous Minnesota                    (See Human Services, page 45)
youth soccer and hockey organizations sup-                      Transfers approved
ported the bill.
                                                           (See Human Services, page 48)
  Rep. Lynn Wardlow (R-Eagan) and Sen.
Linda Higgins (DFL-Mpls) were the sponsors.
                                                                                                                                    PHOTO BY ANDREW VONBANK
                                                                                                         A new law requires county sheriffs to grant
                                                                                                         handgun permits to anyone who meets specified
               $231 million law signed
                (See Bonding, page 10)             ★
                                                        SAFETY                                           criteria. Businesses and other private
                                                                                                         establishments may ban guns on their premises
                                                                                                         by posting a sign near the entrance personally
                ‘Hogs, frogs, and jobs’                        Handgun permit law                        requesting that a gun carrier leave their business.
                 (See Budget, page 12)                Effective May 28, 2003, a new law will gov-
                                                   ern the granting of handgun permits in the            and students may carr y guns on their
             Membership travel contracts
                                                   state of Minnesota.                                   property.
               (See Consumers, page 18)
                                                      The new law will require county sheriffs to           Though often called “concealed-carry leg-
                   Paying for parks                grant handgun permits to anyone who meets             islation,” there is no specific provision in the
              (See Development, page 21)           specified criteria.                                   law requiring guns be either hidden or visible
                                                      Applicants must be at least age 21, be trained     when carried in public.
             Land transactions approved
                                                   in the proper use of a handgun, and be a U.S.            In addition, the new law will impose a life-
              (See Environment, page 29)
                                                   citizen or permanent resident. Anyone listed          time ban on possessing a firearm on individu-
                Management change                  in a state gang database or who has previously        als convicted of a felony-level violent crime.
              (See Environment, page 30)           been convicted of a violent crime will be in-         Prior law banned possession for the 10 years
                                                   eligible.                                             following release from supervision for the of-
       Met Council, legislative changes               Previous law gave sheriffs and police chiefs       fense. In addition, the new law provides a pro-
              (See Metro Affairs, page 56)         wide discretion in granting permits to carry          cess for an individual to petition to have his
                Handgun permit law                 handguns, requiring that applicants demon-            or her possession rights reinstated.
                  (See Safety, page 58)            strate a personal or professional need to carry.         The new law appropriates about $1.2 mil-
                                                   The law was interpreted differently in differ-        lion in 2004-05 to the Department of Public
                Designating fair game              ent parts of the state, leading to calls for a more   Safety to implement this portion of the law.
              (See Bills in Limbo, page 85)        uniform permitting system.                               The new law also contains several technical
             Shooting ranges under fire               The new law shifts the burden of proof to          provisions relating to the Department of
              (See Bills in Limbo, page 90)        county sheriffs, who must prove that some-            Natural Resources.
                                                   one is legally disqualified or otherwise poses           The law will remove a requirement that the
     Overseeing Metrodome operations               a risk to themselves or others before denying         commissioner employ three assistant commis-
              (See Bills in Limbo, page 90)        an application.                                       sioners; provide snowmobile, gun, boat, and
                  Delayed payment                     Under the law, someone under the influence         ATV safety training reciprocity with other
              (See Bills in Limbo, page 94)        of drugs or possessing a blood alcohol con-           states; and address litter prevention in state
                                                   tent of at least .04 percent will be prohibited       parks, recreation areas, and highways. The law
               Small resort assistance             from carrying guns even if that person pos-           specifically cites that cigarette filters and de-
              (See Bills in Limbo, page 94)        sesses a permit to carry a firearm.                   bris from fireworks are offensive matter that
                                                      Businesses and other private establish-            destroys the cleanliness of the land under the
                                                   ments, such as churches, may ban guns on              state’s litter laws. Those provisions are effec-
                                                   their premises by posting a sign near the en-         tive Aug. 1, 2003.
                                                   trance personally requesting that a gun car-             Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder) and
                                                   rier leave their business.                            Sen. Pat Pariseau (R-Farmington) sponsored
                                                      Guns will be banned on the property of             the new law. Rep. Lynda Boudreau
                                                   schools and daycare centers, unless safely            (R-Fairbault) and Pariseau sponsored the
                                                   locked in the trunk of a car.                         original handgun legislation in HF261 and
                                                      Businesses, colleges, and universities can set     SF222.
                                                   their own rules governing where employees                HF823/SF842*/CH28

                                                                         L AW S


       Hazardous duty expansion                     broken up into five annual $5,000 installments      individuals to hold the positions when they
   Effective Aug. 1, 2003, a new law will expand    as long as the violation is not deemed to be        are subject to election and re-election.
the authority of hazardous materials teams in       willful or repeated. The state labor and indus-        The provision, which will take effect upon
Minnesota.                                          try commissioner can elect to waive the fine        local approval, also provides that 10 percent
   Chemical assessment teams will be autho-         each year after the first if the employer is not    of the registered voters in the county may file
rized to deal directly with the hazardous ma-       cited for any more violations.                      a petition to reverse the decision by referen-
terials they encounter. Under current law,             Businesses will be exempt from such fines        dum. The decision would be reversed if a ma-
those teams are limited to only assessing the       if the owner or an employee with a control-         jority of voters approved the referendum.
situation and performing certain defensive          ling interest in the company is the one who            Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) and Sen.
duties related to protecting the surrounding        dies.                                               Leo Foley (DFL-Coon Rapids) were the
area while they call in emergency hazardous            Separate provisions of the law lengthen          sponsors.
materials response teams to deal directly with      employee notice requirements by requiring              HF317*/SF172/CH43
the chemical threat.                                employers to post notices of a citation at or
   By allowing the assessment teams to take         near the place where a violation occurred for
simple mitigation actions on the materials          20 days. Previous law required 15 days.
themselves, the law alleviates potential prob-         The law also removes the state health com-
lems caused by long response times from the         missioner from a 12-member occupational                    Expanding state fair police
emergency response teams.                           safety and health advisory board. Rep. Tim             A new law will allow the Minnesota State
   The two types of teams specialize in differ-     Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), House sponsor of            Fair to hire more part-time police officers, ef-
ent aspects of hazardous material situations,       the new law, said all health and safety inspec-     fective April 29, 2003.
but officials said they have essentially the same   tors have been transferred to the Department           The law authorizes the state fair’s police de-
training.                                           of Labor and Industry, so the health commis-        partment to employ up to 15 licensed, part-
   The state’s Hazardous Materials Regional         sioner is no longer needed on the board.            time police officers.
Response Team Program, directed by the Di-             Sen. Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) was            According to Rep. Steve Strachan
vision of Emergency Management in the De-           the Senate sponsor.                                 (R-Farmington), House sponsor of the law, the
partment of Public Safety, consists of 10              HF817/SF1098*/CH38                               provision will help the department provide
chemical assessment teams and four emer-                                                                police coverage for some events that occur on
gency response teams. The teams are strategi-                                                           the fairgrounds throughout the year, includ-
cally located throughout the state to provide                                                           ing car shows, coliseum events, and special
an immediate response to hazardous materi-                         Wireless space                       sales. During the regular fair time, he said, the
als emergencies threatening public safety.             A new law will facilitate use of county ra-      department will still need a large number of
   The new law also expands the definition of       dio towers for wireless providers and will al-      officers from other departments to help on a
a hazardous material to substances intention-       low for the Rock County recorder to be              part-time basis.
ally released in connection with a criminal or      appointed.                                             Sen. Sharon Marko (DFL-Cottage Grove)
terrorist act. Current statutes limit the              Effective Aug. 1, 2003, the law will allow the   sponsored the Senate version.
definition only to accidentally released mate-      state’s 87 county governments to rent space on         HF268*/SF225/CH23
rials. The types of substances included in the      county-owned radio towers and other property
definition will expand to include chemical and      to commercial wireless service providers. It will
biological substances and toxic gasses, in ad-      also allow counties to place county public safety
dition to the explosive, corrosive, radioactive,    communications equipment on privately owned
and combustible substances already included.        towers through lease agreements.                       Redefining lighted vehicle lamps
   Rep. Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) and Sen.          Public safety communications may include            Minnesota has required automobiles to dis-
Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin) sponsored the               police, fire, highway maintenance, emergency        play headlights when conditions create re-
legislation.                                        medical service, local government, forestry         duced visibility since the 1930s. Since 1990,
   HF1066/SF941*/CH39                               conservation, and other communications as           vehicles have been required to display head-
                                                    determined by a county board.                       lights during periods of rain, snow, sleet, or
                                                       The law will also allow county-owned             hail.
                                                    building rooftops and land to be made avail-           However, new automobile technologies,
Tougher penalties for OSHA violations
                                                    able to wireless service providers or other us-     which provide for certain vehicles to operate
   A new law will increase penalties on em-
                                                    ers to install antennas and equipment. The          all the time with lit headlights, created an un-
ployers who violate state occupational safety
                                                    county could charge site use fees for the value     intended safety concern. Running headlights
                                                    of the property or structure and for the cost       do not activate taillights.
   Effective Aug. 1, 2003, employers can be
                                                    of public safety communications systems.               A new law will require that vehicle lamps
fined up to $25,000 if a violation of state stan-
                                                       Another provision of the law will allow the      be lighted during times when visibility is re-
dards, rules, or orders results in the death of
                                                    Rock County Board of Commissioners to ap-           duced. It will amend state law to say that ve-
an employee.
                                                    point its county recorder. The position is cur-     hicle lights include both headlights and
   In other circumstances, the new law may
                                                    rently elected. A number of counties in recent      taillights.
help protect small companies from bank-
                                                    years have sought new laws to allow the prac-          Law enforcement officials testified that dur-
ruptcy by allowing the $25,000 fine to be
                                                    tice, citing the difficulty in finding qualified    ing periods of reduced visibility it’s important

                                                                         L AW S

                                                                                                              Limiting arsenic in fertilizers
                                                                                                                (See Environment, page 29)
                                                                                                              Funding state departments
                                                                                                                (See Government, page 32)
                                                                                                               Abortion consent measure
                                                                                                                   (See Health, page 37)
                                                                                                               Reporting medical errors
                                                                                                                   (See Health, page 37)
                                                                                                           Defining commitment examiners
                                                                                                                   (See Health, page 38)
                                                                                                                  Disposing of bodies
                                                                                                                   (See Health, page 39)
                                                                                                            Regulating social work licenses
                                                                                                                   (See Health, page 40)
                                                                                                            Simplifying legal requirements
                                                                                                              (See Human Services, page 48)
                                                                                                                  Terrorism coverage
                                                                                                                 (See Insurance, page 49)
                                                                                  PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
Under a new law, any motor vehicle meeting a 25 mile-per-hour and frequent-stop standard, such as          Courts, corrections, safety funding
garbage and recycling collectors, will be exempted from the state’s mandatory seatbelt law.                         (See Law, page 50)
for drivers to see that they are following ve-           Emergency vehicle blue lights                            Broadcast immunity
hicles as well and that is difficult if the tail-      Effective Aug. 1, 2003, a new law will allow                 (See Law, page 52)
lights aren’t running.                              emergency vehicles to display blue lights.
   Rep. Dan Severson (R-Sauk Rapids) and               Specifically, it will allow all emergency ve-        Recuperating emergency costs
Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) were        hicles to place flashing blue lights to the front        (See Local Government, page 53)
the sponsors. The law is effective May 15, 2003.    of the vehicle on the passenger side only. Prior              Common provisions
   HF1268*/SF791/CH45                               law only allowed blue lights on snowplows and                  (See Taxes, page 63)
                                                    transportation maintenance equipment.
                                                       Rep. Dale Walz (R-Brainerd), House spon-                Funding for roads, transit
                                                    sor of the law, said that blue lights are more             (See Transportation, page 64)
                                                    visible, particularly in inclement weather.
             Exemptions to seatbelt law                                                                        Security camera installers
                                                       Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point) was the
   A new law will expand exemptions from the                                                                   (See Bills in Limbo, page 77)
                                                    Senate sponsor.
state’s mandatory seatbelt law for occupants
                                                       HF314*/SF210/CH49                                   Operators as essential employees
of certain commercial vehicles that make fre-
                                                                                                               (See Bills in Limbo, page 82)
quent stops.
   The law, sponsored by Rep. Ron Erhardt                                                                     Increasing rural speed limits
                                                                    Identity theft
(R-Edina) and Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-North                                                                      (See Bills in Limbo, page 86)
                                                                 (See Crime, page 19)
St. Paul), will include any motor vehicle that
makes frequent stops and does not travel faster                                                                Seatbelt ‘gag’ rule remains
                                                         Background check information
than 25 miles per hour.                                                                                        (See Bills in Limbo, page 89)
                                                                 (See Crime, page 20)
   During committee testimony, Erhardt said                                                                       Status check ID stalls
that the bill is intended to aid residential gar-               Breath test accuracy
                                                                                                               (See Bills in Limbo, page 91)
bage and recycling collectors, which tend to                     (See Crime, page 20)
stop at several houses in a block. The require-                                                                        Crib safety
                                                         Public safety radio compliance
ment to buckle up and unbuckle for each stop                                                                   (See Bills in Limbo, page 91)
                                                                 (See Crime, page 20)
was a great inconvenience, Erhardt said.                                                                     Focusing emergency response
   Effective Aug. 1, 2003, the new law will not                    Arson penalties
                                                                                                               (See Bills in Limbo, page 92)
be limited to garbage collectors, however. Any                   (See Crime, page 21)
motor vehicle meeting the 25 mile-per-hour                                                                       Sprinkler plan doused
                                                                   School funding
and frequent-stop standards will be exempted.                                                                  (See Bills in Limbo, page 92)
                                                               (See Education, page 22)
                                                            Additional nuclear storage
                                                                (See Energy, page 28)

                                                                          L AW S


                                                    factors:                                                 Need-based aids payable to counties will be
     TAXES                                          • amount of housing constructed before 1940,          limited to $100.5 million beginning in 2005 and
                                                    • population decline in the past 10 years,            tax-base equalization aid is capped at $105 mil-
    Aid formulas, new taxing districts              • household size,                                     lion. The automatic inflation factor for aid ap-
   The omnibus tax law was one of the major         • average number of accidents on city streets in      propriations is repealed. (Art. 6, Sec. 6)
sticking points as the regular legislative ses-        the past three years, and                             The law also provides for aid reductions for
sion concluded and turned into the special          • the city’s status as either a metropolitan or       counties, townships, and special taxing dis-
session in 2003.                                       non-metropolitan municipality.                     tricts in 2003 and 2004. (Art. 6, Secs. 10-15)
   However, when all was done, the new law,            In determining the need for aid for smaller
among other things, features a change in the        cities, the formula continues to include the age      Property taxes
way cities receive local government aid, and        of housing, population figures, and the per-             Those opposed to the new local government
creates some tax-free zones throughout the          cent of commercial and industrial property,           aid formula said that cities will simply increase
state to help economically distressed areas.        as is the case in current law.                        their property taxes to make up the difference,
   Rep. Ron Abrams (R-Minnetonka) and Sen.             In determining a city’s ability to raise money     thereby attempting to keep services status quo
Lawrence Pogemiller (DFL-Mpls) sponsored            on its own, the law counts both the city’s prop-      or reduce services, including police and fire
the measure.                                        erty tax base and its local option taxes. The         protection.
   The following are some of the highlights in      law calls for calculating 50 percent of local            However, the law restricts local property tax
the law, effective July 1, 2003, unless otherwise   government option sales tax revenues and in-          increases for 2004. It states that cities and
noted.                                              crementally higher percentages of any taconite        counties can recover 60 percent of their re-
   2003 Special Session: HF7*/SFnone/CH21           tax aid a community receives. Under the law,          duced aid through higher property tax levies.
                                                    100 percent of taconite tax revenue will be           No restrictions are imposed on local levies
Local government aid                                considered as part of a city’s ability to raise       beyond 2004. (Art. 7, Sec. 3)
   A key part of the law is $465 million in lo-     money by 2008. The tax is paid by mining                 The law exempts baseball parks from prop-
cal government aid (LGA) to be paid to cities       companies in lieu of property taxes and is            erty tax if they are owned and operated by a
based on taxes payable in 2003 and $437 mil-        based on production. Revenues are then dis-           private, nonprofit charitable organization and
lion for 2004.                                      tributed to qualifying cities, towns, counties,       are primarily used as a baseball park by ama-
   The longstanding program has two pur-            and school districts. Previously, the taconite        teur baseball players. The exemption already
poses — to reduce property taxes, and to bring      tax dollars were not considered as revenue            exists for ice arenas with similar ownership
equity to communities by providing state            when state aid to cities was calculated. (Art. 5,     that are primarily used by youth and high
money for services, including police and fire,      Secs. 3, 7-8, 10)                                     school programs. (Art. 4, Sec. 1)
road maintenance, and parks.                                                                                 An elderly living facility in Minneapolis will
   By comparison, approximately $586 million        Other intergovernmental aids                          be exempt from property taxes for the term of
was certified for payments to cities in 2003.          The law implements a new need-based aid            initial financing or 25 years, whichever is later.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s plan reduced the num-           formula for counties beginning in 2005 and            (Art. 4, Sec. 2)
ber to $352 million for 2004.                       consists of two kinds of aid: need-based and             A Southern St. Louis County Special Tax-
   The statewide average of local government        equalization.                                         ing District is created to operate, maintain, and
aid in 2003 is $150 per-capita, according to           The need-based aid will be determined by           improve the Chris Jensen Nursing Home, un-
nonpartisan House researchers, with larger          the relative proportion of a county’s age-            der the law. All assets and liabilities of the
cities often receiving greater amounts and sub-     adjusted population and the relative                  home are to be transferred from the county to
urban areas receiving little if any aid.            proportion of the county population receiv-           the district on the first day it is created, but no
   Advocates said the aid is critical to commu-     ing food stamps (40 percent each), and the            later than Jan. 1, 2005. This section of law is
nities with low population growth and low           relative proportion of part I crimes per capita       effective the day after local approval by the
property values, as well as to large urban area     in the county (20 percent).                           county board. (Art. 4, Secs. 7, 12)
with ever-growing problems of crime, lack of           Equalization aid is allocated, under the law,
affordable housing, and good jobs. But critics      based on each county’s tax-base equalization          Tax-free zones
said the previous formula was flawed because        factor relative to the sum of all factors for all        Under the law, the commissioner of the
it distributes money based on previous spend-       counties in Minnesota. The factor is defined          Department of Employment and Economic
ing habits. Part of the prior funding formula       as $185 times the county population minus             Development (formerly the departments of
guaranteed cities their 1993 state allocation.      9.45 percent of the county’s net tax capacity.        Trade and Economic Development and Eco-
However, the new law phases out the                 The formula also contains special provisions          nomic Security) may designate up to 10 ar-
grandfathered aid. Only aid granted since 1995      that affect counties with populations of less         eas, dubbed job opportunity building zones,
for specific purposes is retained.                  than 12,500 people and those with more than           of up to 5,000 acres each in economically dis-
   A new city aid formula will be implemented       500,000 residents.                                    tressed rural areas. The zones may be divided
in 2004, under the law. It attempts to remove          If a county’s aid loss, relative to a prorated     into noncontiguous subzones, in one or more
political factors, and to objectively measure a     amount based on current law, exceeds 3 per-           governmental areas.
city’s need versus its ability to raise revenues.   cent of tax capacity, transition aid will be avail-      In addition, the new law allows for the es-
For cities larger than 2,500 people, it calcu-      able. However, transition aid will be phased          tablishment of five agricultural processing fa-
lates need for aid by assessing the following       out over a three-year period. (Art. 6, Sec. 5)        cility zones, which are limited to the sites of

                                                                            L AW S

agricultural processing facilities themselves.         the amount of estimated June liability busi-           non-Minnesotans; and
   Proponents say the provisions could help            nesses must pay is increased from 75 percent        • how jurisdictions without local sales taxes
jump-start economic development initiatives            to 85 percent.                                         raise revenues to fund projects similar to
in parts of the state that are now struggling.            Under the law, retailers with at least              those funded through local sales taxes.
   Qualifying zone businesses will forgo sales,        $120,000 in annual sales tax collections must          The report must also make recommenda-
income, and property taxes for up to 12 years          pay a percentage of their estimated June sales      tions on three areas:
and a refundable jobs credit is available for          taxes two business days before June 30, the end     • the appropriate role of local sales taxes in the
the portion of increased payroll that exceeds          of the state’s fiscal year. The rest of the year       state and local revenue system;
$30,000 per year per full-time equivalent po-          they pay their taxes by the 20th day of the fol-    • criteria used to evaluate local sales tax pro-
sition. Individuals investing in the zone busi-        lowing month. This provision is effective for          posals; and
nesses would be exempt from applicable                 payments made after Dec. 31, 2003. The law          • the feasibility of having the revenue commis-
income and capital gains taxes. Designations           also provides that an underpayment penalty             sioner approve or deny local sales tax pro-
will occur in 2003 and the tax reductions will         may not be imposed if certain conditions are           posals based on a uniform set of criteria.
be effective in 2004, although the commis-             met. (Art. 8, Secs. 1, 3)                              (Art. 8, Sec. 17)
sioner may reserve some zones for designa-                Sales tax proceeds collected by the Minne-
tion in 2004.                                          sota State Agricultural Society for admission       Special taxes
   The property tax exemption does not ex-             to the premises or society-sponsored events            A number of special taxes are provided for
tend to land; commercial-industrial property,          conducted on the fairgrounds during the Min-        in the law.
where neither the owner nor the lessee is a            nesota State Fair will now go to the state’s gen-      Counties are required to remit the state’s
qualified business; debt service levies on gen-        eral fund, instead of being kept by the society     portion of the deed and mortgage registry
eral obligation bonds; and school-operating            for capital improvements to the fairgrounds.        taxes collected by June 25 and the estimated
referenda approved by voters prior to desig-           (Art. 8, Sec. 2)                                    amounts to be collected the rest of the month
nation of the zone. Cities and counties could             A sales tax exemption for purchases made         to the revenue commissioner two business
opt to not provide exemption from their taxes.         to improve the backbone system of a                 days before June 30. This takes effect Jan. 1,
(Art. 1, Secs. 1-27)                                   regionwide public safety radio communica-           2004. (Art. 9, Secs. 4-6)
                                                       tion system is extended two years to Aug. 1,           The accelerated tax payment for cigarette,
Biotechnology and health science zones                 2005. (Art. 8, Sec. 4)                              tobacco, and liquor products distributors,
   One biotechnology and health science indus-            Materials, equipment, and supplies used in       which had not been in effect since 2001, are
try zone will also be designated, under the law.       the expansion of the Walker Art Center in           reinstated, effective Jan. 1, 2004. The 85 per-
   Proffered by Pawlenty, the idea is to facili-       Minneapolis are exempt from sales taxes if          cent rate exceeds that required in earlier years,
tate proper commercialization of the hundreds          more than $70 million is raised from private        and an underpayment penalty is also pro-
of discoveries every year at the University of         sources to pay for a portion of the project. This   vided. (Art. 9, Secs. 7-9, 13)
Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and           is effective for purchases made after                  A special tax rate of 2 cents per liter on low-
at other research institutions.                        June 1, 2003. (Art. 8, Sec. 8)                      alcohol dairy cocktails is also initiated, under
   Eligible facilities will include those research-       The city of Duluth is authorized to use pro-     the law. (Art. 9, Secs. 11-12)
ing, developing, or manufacturing a biotech-           ceeds from the food and beverage tax and
nology product, medical device, or service, as         lodging tax for debt service on bonds used for      Local economic development
well as those promoting, supplying, or servic-         capital improvements to the Duluth Entertain-          The law contains $1.5 million for border city
ing such a facility.                                   ment and Convention Center and the Great            enterprise zone and border city development
   Qualifying businesses in the zone may be eli-       Lakes Aquarium. The provision is effective the      zone tax reductions. The five cities that qualify
gible for sales, corporate franchise, and some         day after the Duluth City Council approves the      are Moorhead, Dilworth, East Grand Forks,
property tax exemptions, and job and research          plan. (Art. 8, Secs. 9, 10)                         Breckenridge, and Ortonville. This section is
credits. In addition, certain property taxes are not      Itasca County may impose a local lodging         effective June 9, 2003. (Art. 10, Sec. 1)
exempt, consistent with provisions for other tax-      tax, which will supersede any existing lodging         The law also contains a handful of provi-
free zones established in the law.                     tax within townships in the county and pro-         sions dealing with tax increment financing
   Unlike the job opportunity building zones, the      hibit any town from imposing a tax in the fu-       (TIF) districts. For example, a qualifying di-
total amount of state incentives for the biotech-      ture. This is effective the day after the county    saster area can qualify for designation as a re-
nology zone is limited to $1 million. Although         board gives its approval. (Art. 8, Sec. 16)         development TIF district; a development
the biotechnology zone is valid for 12 years and          A study must be conducted by the revenue         authority is permitted beginning June 9, 2003,
tax exemptions will begin in 2004, as with the         commissioner regarding local sales taxes.           to extend the duration of a pre-2001 district
other tax-free zones, no money was appropri-           Among the topics the report, due to the Legis-      to offset deficits caused by property tax
ated for the biotechnology zone beyond the             lature by Feb. 1, 2004, must address are:           changes in 2001; and the city of New Hope is
2004-05 biennium. (Art. 2, Secs. 1-20)                 • the authorized uses of local sales taxes;         permitted to establish one or more redevelop-
                                                       • local approval requirements;                      ment or soils condition TIF districts in a spe-
Sales and use tax                                      • duration of the tax;                              cifically described portion of the city. (Art. 10,
  The accelerated June sales tax payment will          • estimated portion of the revenue raised from      Secs. 3, 8, 10)
not be erased from the books on June 30, 2003,            residents where the tax is imposed, state
as had been previously planned. In addition               residents from outside the jurisdiction, and     Other provisions
                                                                                                             The law creates a $300 million budget

                                                                          L AW S


reserve on July 1, 2003, and adds $296 million         The law includes separate provisions that                      Delayed payment
to the budget reserve fund one year later. The      will better align the state estate tax law with its           (See Bills in Limbo, page 94)
dollars come from the general fund. (Art. 11,       federal companion, and offer discounts to se-
Sec. 3)                                             lect taxpayers to encourage payment of past-
                                                                                                                   Small resort assistance
   The Legislative Coordinating Commission          due taxes (HF540).                                            (See Bills in Limbo, page 94)
has until Dec. 31, 2004, to complete a study           Other provisions include:                               Gas tax, local sales tax options
on alternative methods of taxing businesses.        • HF1573, requiring the state to develop a hand-              (See Bills in Limbo, page 95)
(Art. 11, Sec. 30)                                     book detailing the procedures, responsibili-
   An appropriation of $100,000 each year will         ties, and requirements for local boards of
be directed to one or more nonprofit organi-           appeal and equalization. Under current law,
zations for the coordination and provision of
taxpayer assistance services. (Art. 11, Sec. 34)
                                                       each city and township is required to con-
                                                       vene such boards to hear complaints and            ★
   In addition, the law includes updates to state      appeals on property tax appraisals and prop-                Fair phone competition
law in order to conform with provisions of the         erty taxes.                                                 (See Consumers, page 17)
federal Jobs Growth and Tax Relief Reconcili-       • HF1199, charging cigarette distributors
ation Act passed by Congress in 2003.                  35 cents per pack if those cigarettes were              Public safety radio compliance
   Under the law, the standard income tax de-          manufactured by any company other than                         (See Crime, page 20)
duction for married couples filing joint re-           one of the five that have a settlement agree-               Public and private data
turns will increase to 200 percent of the              ment with the state. Under the State v. Philip             (See Government, page 34)
standard deduction for single filers. (Art. 3,         Morris Inc., those companies are Philip
Sec. 2)                                                Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Brown &                     Disposing of bodies
   In addition, provisions concerning business         Williamson, and Liggett & Myers.                              (See Health, page 39)
deductions of capital assets and depreciation       • HF929, expanding the Metropolitan Mos-                       Extended testing time
were adjusted to conform with the federal act.         quito Control District to include western                    (See Industry, page 48)
The new law will allow a business to deduct            Carver County and allowing private prop-
50 percent of the cost of an asset the year it is      erty entry, despite owner objection, to deter-                   Wireless space
placed in service and the remaining 50 per-            mine the need for control and actual action                    (See Safety, page 59)
cent according to a depreciation schedule. Pre-        against disease-carrying mosquitoes, ticks,
                                                                                                              Aid formulas, new taxing districts
viously, companies could deduct 30 percent             and black gnats. A conference committee
                                                                                                                      (See Taxes, page 61)
in the first year and the remaining 70 percent         compromise calls for giving objecting
according to depreciation.                             property owners 24-hour spraying notice.                        Small school aid
   Capital assets include such things as manu-      • HF597, allowing the city of Duluth’s eco-                   (See Bills in Limbo, page 78)
facturing equipment, motor vehicles, office            nomic development authority to create a
                                                                                                                      Vehicle tax break
equipment, and similar items.                          25-year tax increment financing district for
                                                                                                                  (See Bills in Limbo, page 93)
   In addition, business will be allowed to            an aircraft maintenance facility. The city
deduct up to $100,000 worth of capital assets          hopes to woo Bombardier Aerospace, the                    Nanotechnology institute
in the year they were purchased. Previously,           world’s third largest civil airframe manufac-              (See Bills in Limbo, page 94)
that limit was $25,000. In addition, the new           turer.
law phases out that deduction for businesses           In addition, most measures in the House                    Electronic library access
with more than $400,000 in income.                  public finance bill, which was originally ap-                 (See Bills in Limbo, page 94)
                                                    proved May 14, were included in the law.                   Surcharge for student learning
                                                       Rep. Ron Abrams (R-Minnetonka) and Sen.                    (See Bills in Limbo, page 94)
                                                    Larry Pogemiller (DFL-Mpls) were the spon-
           Common provisions                        sors. It is generally effective May 26, 2003, but
  A new law initially part of the House omni-       individual provisions may take effect at other
                                                    specified times.
bus tax bill moved forward on its own. It en-
acts a number of policy-related tax provisions.        HF1565/SF1505*/CH127                               ★
  One provision will allow counties to sell
bonds to help construct the statewide public               Cigarette tax proposal falters                          Earlier school year start
radio system.                                                (See Bills in Limbo, page 92)                        (See Bills in Limbo, page 79)
  Already in place in the Twin Cities metro-
                                                                  Vehicle tax break
politan area, the system allows law enforce-
                                                             (See Bills in Limbo, page 93)
ment and public safety agencies to
communicate via radio without going through                     Tax haven countries
a dispatcher. Varying radio frequencies and                  (See Bills in Limbo, page 93)
differing equipment limit such capabilities
currently. Installation of the system backbone                   Market value issues
throughout the state is estimated at                         (See Bills in Limbo, page 93)
$201 million.

                                                                             L AW S

                                                       provides maintenance for the state highway                In addition, the new law allows the state to
       TRANSPORTATION                                  system, including striping, repair, lighting, and       spend up to $400 million in additional trunk
                                                       snow plowing.                                           highway improvements, from funds approved
             Funding for roads, transit                   Nearly $236 million for the Department of            by the Federal Highway Administration
   A $3.79 billion transportation finance law          Public Safety is provided, as well. It funds            through fiscal year 2009 and designated as
will provide funding for road projects, tran-          transportation-related functions of the de-             advance construction dollars. (Art. 3, Sec. 3)
sit, and the departments of Transportation             partment, including driver and vehicle ser-
and Public Safety, effective July 1, 2003.             vices, other administrative services, traffic           Transit funding, improvements
   It includes funding for the operation of the        safety, and the state patrol. (Art. 1, Sec. 4)             For metropolitan transit, the law will pro-
Hiawatha light-rail transit line, set to begin op-        In addition, the law requires the commis-            vide about $114.7 million for the biennium,
erations in early 2004, as well as additional trunk    sioners of both departments to report each              about $16 million below 2002-03 levels. In
highway bonding for highway projects. It also es-      year regarding the impact of cuts to base bud-          addition, the Transportation Department will
tablishes a permit fee structure for bars and res-     gets in the departments and the specific im-            receive $31.9 million for Greater Minnesota
taurants serving alcohol to stay open until 2 a.m.,    pacts those reductions had. The report must             transit operations, reflecting a cut of $3.6 mil-
provides a funding stream for additional state         specifically identify the number of positions           lion in general fund appropriations for the
troopers, and allows single-occupant vehicles to       affected, either by attrition or layoff. (Art. 1,       biennium. (Art. 1, Secs. 2, 3)
use high-occupancy vehicle lanes by paying a fee.      Secs. 2, 4)                                                The new law establishes the funding for-
   Rep. Bill Kuisle (R-Rochester) and Sen.                                                                     mula for the Hiawatha light-rail transit line,
Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar) sponsored the               Additional funds, advance construction                  set to begin operations in 2004: 50 percent
law. Here are a few highlights.                           Included in the law is authorization for the         from the state, or about $6.7 million in 2004-
   2003 Special Session: HF5*/SFnone/CH19              state to sell $400 million in trunk highway             05, and 50 percent from Hennepin County’s
                                                       bonds, to be financed through budget reduc-             regional rail authority.
Transportation, public safety funding                  tions to the Transportation Department. The                The law will increase dedication of 20.5 per-
   The law allocates about $3.4 billion to the         proceeds from the bonds will be used for ad-            cent of motor vehicle sales taxes to metropoli-
Department of Transportation, including opera-         ditional road construction projects. The funds          tan transit up to 21.5 percent through fiscal
tions, maintenance, and construction in the state      must be distributed, to the extent possible,            year 2007. The greater Minnesota transit
highway, county state aid highway, and munici-         evenly between bottlenecks in the Twin Cities           fund’s share of the sales tax revenues will rise
pal state aid road systems. (Art. 1, Sec. 2)           metropolitan area and inter-regional corri-             from 1.25 to 1.43 percent. Both percentages
   The law accounts for about $72 million in           dors in Greater Minnesota, according to the             will revert to the former level beginning in fis-
budget reductions to the department for the            law.                                                    cal 2008. (Art. 2, Sec. 48)
biennium to finance additional construction               As the department determines which                      Other transit-related issues include the
dollars provided in the law. Among its func-           projects to include, it must prepare a report           following:
tions, the department facilitates construction         annually through 2007 to the Legislature, un-           • the Transportation Department will study the
projects by giving engineering support and             der the law. (Art. 3, Sec. 1)                              feasibility of a bus rapid transit system along
                                                                                                                  Interstate 35W between Minneapolis and
                                                                                                                  Lakeville (Art. 2, Sec. 71);
                                                                                                               • the department will provide up to $350,000
                                                                                                                  from Oct. 1, 2003 to Sept. 30, 2004 to operate
                                                                                                                  the Northstar commuter coach bus from Elk
                                                                                                                  River to Minneapolis if the local authority
                                                                                                                  provides a local match to replace federal
                                                                                                                  funding (Art. 1, Sec. 2);
                                                                                                               • a work group will be convened between the
                                                                                                                  department and the Northstar development
                                                                                                                  authority to study the feasibility of the com-
                                                                                                                  muter rail line from Rice to downtown Min-
                                                                                                                  neapolis, including ridership forecasts and
                                                                                                                  information from the Burlington Northern
                                                                                                                  Santa Fe Railroad (Art. 2, Sec. 75);
                                                                                                               • the southwest transit corridor, in the south-
                                                                                                                  western Twin Cities metropolitan area, will
                                                                                                                  be prohibited from pursuing a rail transit
                                                                                                                  option for two years (Art. 2, Sec. 74); and
                                                                                                               • the Metropolitan Council will be required to
                                                                                      PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
                                                                                                                  request proposals from internal staff and
A new law establishes the funding formula for the Hiawatha light-rail transit line, set to begin operations
                                                                                                                  private vendors to operate the Hiawatha
in early 2004. The plan calls for 50 percent from the state and 50 percent from Hennepin County’s regional        light-rail transit line. (Art. 2, Sec. 72)
rail authority. The line will run from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America in Bloomington.

                                                                               L AW S


                                                                               Funds collected will be         sample must represent 2 percent annually of
                                                                              used to cover implementa-        all licensed drivers owning vehicles. (Art. 2,
                                                                              tion costs and the remain-       Sec. 30)
                                                                              der will be used for                Half of the sample must be random. The
                                                                              transportation and transit       other half must be targeted at drivers who have
                                                                              improvements in the corri-       been convicted of an insurance violation, have
                                                                              dor.                             had their license privileges suspended or re-
                                                                               The plan will specifically      voked for repeated traffic violations, or had
                                                                              affect the Interstate 394 and    no insurance at the time of an accident, within
                                                                              35W corridors in the Twin        the previous year.
                                                                              Cities metropolitan area            The sampling will involve sending the driver
                                                                              now. Other corridors may         a request for proof of vehicle insurance. The
                                                                              be governed by the policy in     driver would have 30 days to submit the infor-
                                                                              the future.                      mation, which would then be sent by the state to
                                                                                                               the insurance company for verification.
                                                     PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
                                                                              Special license plates
A new law authorizes the state to sell $400 million in trunk highway
bonds, financed through budget reductions to the Transportation               The law establishes a new        Other policy provisions
Department. Bond proceeds will be used for additional road                   policy for granting special li-      Several transportation-related policy pro-
construction projects.                                                       cense plates. (Art. 2, Sec. 23)   visions will also be adjusted under the law.
                                                           When a group plans to seek legislation for             Speed limits in school zones may be set at
Alcohol enforcement procedures                          a new special plate, it must also submit a de-         30 miles per hour below the existing speed limit
   A 2003 regular session law extended the              scription of the proposal, a survey showing            on a road. State statute sets the minimum speed
deadline for on-sale alcoholic beverages from           that at least 10,000 vehicle owners will pur-          limit on any road at 15 mph. (Art. 2, Sec. 27)
1 a.m. to 2 a.m. (See related story, page 15.) In       chase the plate, an application fee to cover the          School buses operated by licensed child-
this law, the process by which establishments           cost of developing the plate, and a marketing          care providers must adhere to restrictions
obtain a permit for the extended time and the           plan to the Department of Public Safety.               placed on 15-passenger buses being operated
disbursement of the money is established.                  In addition, the law provides that a plate will     without a special driver’s license. In addition,
(Art. 2, Secs. 50, 58, 59)                              be discontinued if fewer than 1,000 are regis-         anyone ever convicted of an offense that would
   A business may sell alcoholic beverages              tered within the first five years after authori-       also lead to cancellation of a school bus license
from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. if it already has an on-          zation or any subsequent five-year period.             would be prohibited from operating
sale liquor licenses and obtains an additional                                                                 15-passenger buses or child-care buses. (Art.
permit. The fee for the permit is based on the          Evaluating insurance coverage                          2, Secs. 28, 38)
following scale:                                           In an effort to address Minnesota’s high rate          The new law requires the department to
• $200, for businesses making up to $100,000            among its neighbors of uninsured motorists,            prepare a forecast of revenues and expendi-
   in annual gross receipts;                            the new law will require the Department of             tures in the highway user tax distribution and
• $500, for businesses making between $100,000          Public Safety to conduct a monthly sampling            trunk highway funds twice per year. (Art. 2,
   and $500,000 in gross receipts;                      of licensed drivers who own vehicles in order          Sec. 41)
• $600, for businesses making more than                 to determine whether they are insured. The                Property owners may be reimbursed up to
   $500,000 in gross receipts; and
• $200 for bottle clubs and establishments with
   only a 3.2 beer license.
   Money collected from the permits will be de-
posited in an alcohol enforcement account. The
law appropriates up to $3.5 million in 2004 and
$3.7 million in 2005 from the account to fund
additional state patrol positions. Officials esti-
mated the money could support between 40 and
50 new troopers.
   In addition, the law adjusts the effective date
of the later bar closing time and makes it ef-
fective July 1, 2003. (Art. 2, Sec. 78)

HOV lanes
   The state Department of Transportation
may allow single-occupant vehicles to use
high-occupancy vehicle lanes upon paying a                                                                                               PHOTO BY ANDREW VONBANK

fee to do so, effective June 9, 2003. The depart-       After gaining federal approval, the state Department of Transportation may allow single-occupant
                                                        vehicles to use high-occupancy vehicle lanes upon paying a fee to do so, under a new law. The plan will
ment must first obtain federal authorization
                                                        specifically affect the Interstate 394 and 35W corridors in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
before allowing the practice. (Art. 2, Sec. 7)

                                                                         L AW S

$1,500 for appraisals when property is pur-          (DFL-Tracy), will change the status of the fol-
chased by the department. The prior limit was        lowing roads in the designated trunk highway       ★
$500. (Art. 2, Sec. 4)                               system:
                                                                                                                      Limiting records
                                                     • changes the description of a road near Roch-
Further study required
                                                                                                           A new law will restrict who can have access
                                                        ester between U.S. Highway 14 and Inter-
   Several studies are required under the law,                                                          to the discharge records of Minnesota
                                                        state 90 that was inadvertently misidentified
including the use of rumble strips on the                                                               veterans.
                                                        in 2001,
centerline of state and county highways state-                                                             Effective Jan. 1, 2004, the law will classify
                                                     • transfers highway 266 near Worthington to
wide. (Art. 2, Sec. 68)                                                                                 certificates of discharge as private information
                                                        Nobles County,
   The law also calls for a study of the state’s                                                        and require the Department of Veterans Af-
                                                     • transfers highway 273 near Belview to Red-
rest area program, specifically the adequacy of                                                         fairs to give out the information only if the
                                                        wood County, and
funding, the number of closings planned and                                                             person requesting the information proves
                                                     • vacates highway 302 between Sauk Centre
facilities with reduced hours, and steps taken                                                          their identity, has a tangible interest in the in-
                                                        and the former Minnesota Home for Girls,
to lease rest areas to private entities for opera-                                                      formation, and fills out a release form.
                                                        no longer operated by the state.
tion. (Art. 2, Sec. 67)                                                                                    The law limits the people who have a tan-
                                                        During committee discussion, Betsy Parker,
                                                                                                        gible interest as the following:
                                                     assistant director of government relations for
                                                                                                        • the veteran themselves,
                                                     the department, explained the legal provisions
                                                                                                        • a surviving spouse,
                                                     governing the trunk highway system. She said
     Replacing displaced railroad land                                                                  • a surviving child,
                                                     that the system was limited to 12,200 miles in
   Occasionally, a state road construction                                                              • a surviving parent, or
                                                     1920, and that the state assumes responsibil-
project will require the state Department of                                                            • a guardian of the veteran.
                                                     ity for constructing and maintaining larger
Transportation to acquire land and relocate                                                                No fee can be charged for the service.
                                                     roads connecting more traffic.
railroad tracks. When that happens, typically                                                              A representative from the Department of
                                                        The governing philosophy, she said, also dic-
the department will acquire the land and pay                                                            Veterans Affairs told a House committee that
                                                     tates that smaller roads between local commu-
the costs associated, which may be time con-                                                            any person can currently walk into the depart-
                                                     nities should be locally maintained.
suming and expensive for the department, of-                                                            ment and request someone’s discharge papers.
                                                        Parker also testified that turnbacks desig-
ficials say.                                                                                            Private information, such as a social security
                                                     nated in the measure all receive the consent of
   A new law is intended to streamline that                                                             number, is included on the papers and can be
                                                     the local government either via resolution or
process, according to its House sponsor,                                                                used to steal a person’s identity.
Rep. Doug Magnus (R-Slayton).                                                                              Under state law, discharge information be-
                                                        2003 Special Session: HF30*/SF34/CH22
   During committee testimony, Transporta-                                                              comes public 10 years after a veteran dies and
tion Department officials said that the law                                                             30 years after the information was created.
                                                              $231 million law signed
won’t substantially change current practice,                                                               The law’s contents were also part of in the
                                                                (See Bonding, page 10)
except that the department will not be required                                                         House omnibus data practices law. (See related
to acquire the replacement land. Under the law,                ‘Hogs, frogs, and jobs’                  story, page 34.)
the department may simply reimburse the rail-                    (See Budget, page 12)                     Rep. Jeff Anderson (R-Austin) and Sen.
road for the cost of the replacement land as                                                            Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing) sponsored the
                                                                  2003 adjustments
an alternative to the department providing the                                                          legislation.
                                                                 (See Budget, page 14)
land itself. The choice between the two options                                                            HF768*/SF1039/CH124
will be decided jointly by the railroad and the              Claims bill vetoed, revived
department.                                                   (See Government, page 35)
   The new law takes effect Aug. 1, 2003. It was           Redefining a displaced person
sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mike McGinn                     (See Housing, page 44)                      Historic Victory Memorial Drive
(R-Eagan).                                                                                                 Minnesota will have a new historic district
   HF988*/SF1038/CH102                                      Increasing rural speed limits               effective Aug. 1, 2003: Victory Memorial Drive,
                                                             (See Bills in Limbo, page 86)              a road bordering Minneapolis and
                                                             Abolishing rail authorities                Robbinsdale.
                                                                                                           Established in 1921 as a memorial to World
                                                             (See Bills in Limbo, page 90)
             State highway transfers                                                                    War I veterans, the drive is one of the largest
   Each year, the state Department of Trans-              Gas tax, local sales tax options              such memorials in the country.
portation reviews the state’s highway system                 (See Bills in Limbo, page 95)                 Originally, 568 elm trees were planted in
to assure that each road still serves specific                                                          straight military-style rows in memory of
                                                                 License fee revenue
statewide purposes. As a result, the department                                                         fallen soldiers from Hennepin County. In
                                                             (See Bills in Limbo, page 95)
recommends that some roads be turned back                                                               1928, a marker was placed in front of each tree
to local communities.                                                                                   with the name, rank, and company of a sol-
   The law accomplishing that task this year is                                                         dier. Dutch Elm disease forced some trees to
effective Aug. 1, 2003.                                                                                 be cut down and replanted.
   The new law, sponsored by Rep. Bill Kuisle                                                              As a result of the historic designation, the
(R-Rochester) and Sen. Jim Vickerman                                                                    road may now be eligible for preservation

                                                                            L AW S


                                                                                                              cut off communist supply lines in South Viet-
                                                                                                              nam, and confront communist elements in
                                                                                                              Laos to maintain neutrality, officials say.
                                                                                                                The law is effective Aug. 1, 2003.

                                                                                                                          Program eligibility
                                                                                                                 The Minnesota Department of Veterans
                                                                                                              Affairs serves more than 427,000 veterans, and
                                                                                                              the State Soldier’s Assistance Program is one
                                                                                                              of the ways the department helps those who
                                                                                                              have served.
                                                                                                                 The program provides temporary assistance
                                                                                                              for veterans and their families in many ways:
                                                                                                              rent/mortgage payments, utilities, dental and
                                                                                                              optical benefits, education, clothing needs, and
                                                                                                              cash grants.
                                                                                                                 Modeled after the definition used for Medi-
                                                                                     PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID   cal Assistance and General Assistance Medi-
Victory Memorial Drive in Minneapolis is designated a historic district, under a new law. The designation     cal Care, a new law clarifies who is a Minnesota
means that the road may now be eligible for preservation grants to help maintain it as a memorial.            resident in order to determine if a person
                                                                                                              qualifies for the program. By definition in the
grants to help maintain it as a memorial.             War is now eligible for a home in the Capitol           new law, a person must have lived in Minne-
   According to the law, “Victory Memorial            Complex, under a new law.                               sota for at least 30 days with the intention of
Drive Historic District in Hennepin County               Rep. Cy Thao (DFL-St. Paul), who spon-               making the person’s home in the state and not
is comprised of the drive extending from              sored the law with Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-              for temporary purposes to take advantage of
Lowr y Avenue North on the south to                   Red Wing), assured members during an earlier            the benefits.
Humboldt Avenue North on the east, and all            House floor session the cost of the statue                 Additionally, the individual may be required
property associated with the drive owned by           would come from the Hmong community                     by the department to prove residency by pre-
the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board,            with no state funding. The Capitol Area Ar-             senting a valid state driver’s license, a state
including the Lincoln Statue area and the Flag-       chitectural and Planning Board will oversee             identification card, a voter registration card, a
pole Memorial area.”                                  the project.                                            rent receipt, or a statement by the landlord,
   Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls) and Sen.                  Thousands of Hmong individuals were                  apartment manager, or homeowner verifying
Linda Higgins (DFL-Mpls) were the sponsors.           trained by the Central Intelligence Agency to           that the individual is residing at the address.
   HF456*/SF511/CH30                                  fight in association with the United States                In 2001, 2,032 Minnesotans received a cu-
                                                      against the expansion of communism in Laos.             mulative $1.5 million in assistance through the
             Hmong memorial                              Hmong soldiers risked everything, includ-            program.
  A memorial to honor Hmong veterans who              ing their lives, to gather intelligence, rescue            Rep. Tony Kielkucki (R-Lester Prairie) and
fought for the United States in the Vietnam           American downed pilots behind enemy lines,              Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) sponsored the
                                                                                                              legislation, effective April 18, 2003.

              Selected New, Adjusted Fees Adopted in 2003                    L AW S

     Area/Purpose                                 Existing Fee       New Fee                CH      Art.    Sec.   Eff. date


    Board of Animal Health inspection                                 $10 per animal,        128       3    10     7/1/03
    fee for animals subject to surveillance                           up to $100 per herd
    Chronic Wasting Disease


    2 a.m. bar time license extensions,
    annual fees
       Up to $100,000 in gross sales                                  $200                   SS19      2    59     7/1/03
       From $100,000 to $500,000                                      $500                   SS19      2    59     7/1/03
       $500,000 and above                                             $600                   SS19      2    59     7/1/03

    Retail food handler license,                      $48 to $962     $50 to $2,001          128       3    28     7/1/03
    based on gross sales

    Wholesale food handler license,                   $54 to $692     $57 to $1,502          128       3    28     7/1/03
    based on gross sales

    Wholesale food processor or                       $161 to $963    $169 to $2,571         128       3    28     7/1/03
    manufacturer license, based on
    gross sales

    Coin-operated vending machine                     $15             $25                    128       3    30     7/1/03
    inspection fee, per machine


    Background studies for family and                                 Up to $100             SS14      6    9      7/1/03
    group child-care facilities

    Licensing inspections for family and                              Up to $150             SS14      6    9      7/1/03
    group child-care facilities

    Application fee for initial license or                            $500                   SS14      6    9      7/1/03
    certification for family and group
    child-care facilities

    Annual license fee for                                            $300 to $2,000         SS14      6    9      7/1/03
    licensed child-care facility
    (based on size of facility) from
    1 child to 225 or more children

    Annual license fee for other licensed                             $400 to $3,000         SS14      6    9      7/1/03
    care facilities (based on size of facility)
    from 1 person to 225 or more people


    Fee for certifying an online                                      Up to $250             SS9       2    20     9/2/03
    learning provider

    Teacher license processing fee                    $47             $57                    SS9       10   5      7/1/03


    Apprenticeship registration fee                                   $30                    128       11   7      7/1/03

                                                                             L AW S


Area/Purpose                              Existing Fee              New Fee           CH     Art.    Sec.    Eff. date

Fee to operate aeration system on                                     $250             128      1     118    7/1/03
public waters

Aquatic plant harvesting permit               $200                    $750             128      1     119    7/1/03

Septic tank installation fee, charged                                 $25              128      1      124    7/1/03
to installer, per tank

Water quality permit fee                      $240                    $350             128      2      53     7/1/03


Marriage license fee                          $70                     $80              128      12     3      7/1/03


Annual charitable gambling license                                    $350             SS1      2      89     7/1/03

Annual gambling equipment                     $3,500                  $6,000           SS1      2      91    7/1/03
distributor license

Annual gambling equipment                                             $100             SS1      2      91     7/1/03
salesperson license

Annual gambling equipment                     $5,000 initial,         $9,000           SS1      2      94     7/1/03
manufacturer’s license                        $10,000 per renewal

Annual bingo hall license                     $2,500                  $4,000           SS1      2      96     7/1/03

Annual lawful gambling                        $75 to $200             $150             SS1      2      97     7/1/03
establishment permit

Annual linked bingo provider license                                  $5,000           110             20     8/1/03


Senior accredited assessor license                                    $105             SS1      2      79     7/1/04

Accredited assessor license                                           $80              SS1      2      79     7/1/04

Certified assessor specialist license                                 $65              SS1      2      79     7/1/04

Certified assessor license                                            $55              SS1      2      79     7/1/04

Fee for written opinion on                                            $200             SS8      2      1      7/1/03
Minnesota Open Meeting Law
from Department of Administration

Higher Education

Registration fee for private,                 $550                    $1,100           133      2      17     7/1/03
post-secondary institutions

Renewal fee for private, post-secondary       $400                    $950             133      2      17     7/1/03
institution registration

                                                                         L AW S

     Area/Purpose                                 Existing Fee   New Fee          CH     Art.   Sec.       Eff. date


    Tax Court - small claims                       $25           $150              SS2     2      1        7/1/03

    General Courts
      Civil filing fee                             $135          $235              SS2     2      2        7/1/03
      Subpoena, per name                           $3            $12               SS2     2      2        7/1/03
      Filing a motion or response to such                        $55               SS2     2      2        7/1/03
      in a civil, family, or guardianship case
      (excluding child support)
      Issuing other court orders                   $10           $40               SS2     2      2        7/1/03
      Transcript of judgment                       $7.50         $30               SS2     2      2        7/1/03
      Filing trusteeship accounts                  $10           $40               SS2     2      2        7/1/03
      Deposit of a will                            $5            $20               SS2     2      2        7/1/03
      Recording a notary commission                $25           $100              SS2     2      2        7/1/03

    Conciliation Court – all actions               $25 or $35    $50               SS2     2      3        7/1/03

    Appellate Court
      General filing fee                           $250          $500              SS2     2      4        7/1/03

    Criminal Court
      Public defender copayment for                $28           $200              SS2     3      4        7/1/03
      felony defense
      Public defender copayment for                $28           $100              SS2     3      4        7/1/03
      gross misdemeanor defense
      Public defender copayment for                $28           $50               SS2     3      4        7/1/03
      misdemeanor defense
      Public defender copayment for                $28           $100              SS2     3      4        7/1/03
      juvenile matters - child
      Public defender copayment for                $28           $200              SS2     3      4        7/1/03
      juvenile matters - adult


    Off-highway vehicle registration               $2            $4.50             128      1     24, 25   7/1/03
    renewal, duplicate, or replacement
    card filing fee

    Off-highway vehicle registration or            $2            $7                128      1     24, 25   7/1/03
    registration transfer filing fee

    All-terrain vehicle registration renewal,      $2            $4.50             128      1     29       7/1/03
    duplicate, or replacement card filing fee

    (before Jan. 1, 2005)                                        $23               128      1     30       7/1/03

    Three-yearall-terrainvehicleregistrationfee    $23           $30               128      1     30       1/1/05

    Annual state park permit                       $20           $25               128      1     45       7/1/03

    Second vehicle annual state park permit        $15           $18               128      1     45       7/1/03

    Daily state park permit                        $4            $7                128      1     45       7/1/03

    Daily state park vehicle permit for groups     $2            $5                128      1     45       7/1/03

    Watercraft registration renewal,               $2            $4.50             128      1     47       7/1/03
    duplicate, or replacement card filing fee

                                                                  L AW S


Area/Purpose                               Existing Fee   New Fee          CH     Art.   Sec.   Eff. date

Watercraft registration or registration     $2            $7                128      1     47   7/1/03
transfer filing fee

Watercraft title fee                        $3.50         $7                128      1     48   7/1/03

Adult (18 and older) resident               $12           $12.50            128      1     58   1/1/04
small game hunting license

Adult (16 and older) resident deer          $25           $26               128      1     58   8/1/03
firearm or archery hunting license

Resident two-deer open season license       $75           $78               128      1     58   7/1/03

Resident license to take antlered deer      $50           $52               128      1     58   8/1/03
in more than one zone

Youth (age 12 to 15) resident deer          $25           $13               128      1     58   8/1/03
firearm or archery hunting license

Non-resident deer firearm or archery        $125          $135              128      1     59   8/1/03
hunting license

Non-resident license to take deer in        $250          $270              128      1     59   8/1/03
more than one zone

Annual small game license surcharge         $4            $6.50             128      1     60   3/1/04

Migratory waterfowl hunting stamp           $5            $7.50             128      1     61   3/1/04

Pheasant hunting stamp                      $5            $7.50             128      1     61   3/1/04

Resident Lake Superior fishing              $35           $125              128      1     63   3/1/04
guide license

Non-resident Lake Superior fishing          $140          $400              128      1     63   3/1/04
guide license

Minnow dealer license                       $100          $310              128      1     64   3/1/04

Minnow retailer license                     $15           $47               128      1     65   3/1/04

Private fish hatchery license,              $35           $70               128      1     67   3/1/04
annual sales less than $200

Private fish hatchery license,              $70           $210              128      1     67   3/1/04
annual sales of $200 or more

Commercial fish netting license,            $90           $120              128      1     68   3/1/04
inland waters

Commercial fish netting license,            $50           $120              128      1     68   3/1/04
for residents netting in Lake Superior;
Lake of the Woods; Rainy, Namakan,
and Sand Point Lakes; the
Mississippi River from St. Anthony Falls
to the St. Croix River; and in the
Wisconsin boundary waters from
Lake St. Croix to the Iowa border

                                                                        L AW S

     Area/Purpose                                Existing Fee   New Fee          CH      Art.   Sec.    Eff. date


    Application fee for new handgun permit                      Up to $100        28       2      8       5/28/03

    Handgun permit renewal fee                                  Up to $75         28       2      11      5/28/03

    Fingerprint-based, non-law enforcement                      $7                SS2      4      7       7/1/03
    background check handling fee

    Fingerprinting for employment licensing                     $10               SS2      4      8      7/1/03

    Monthly fee for Internet/dial-up access                     $35               SS2      4      9       7/1/03
    to criminal justice information system

    Internet fee for criminal justice agencies                  $15               SS2      4      9      7/1/03

    Alcohol industry permits and ID card          $15           $35               SS2      4      23      7/1/03

    Indoor fireworks display                                    $150              SS2      4      28     7/1/03

    Criminal traffic offense surcharge            $35           $60               SS2      8      6       7/1/03

    Surcharge for certain non-local                             $3                SS2      8      6       7/1/03
    parking offenses

    911 surcharge, per customer,                  33 cents      40 cents          SS1      2      108     7/1/03
    per month


    Tax preparers’ fee, per return, for filing                  $5                SS1      2      81      7/1/03
    more than 100 paper returns

    Fee per cigarette, paid by cigarette                        $1.75             127      14     9       7/1/03
    manufacturers not part of a tobacco
    settlement agreement with the state


    Sequential double license plate               $3            $4.25             SS19     2      22      7/1/03

    Sequential special license plate - double     $4            $7                SS19     2      22     7/1/03

    Sequential single license plate               $2            $3                SS19     2      22      7/1/03

    Sequential special license plate – single     $3            $5.50             SS19     2      22     7/1/03

    Self-adhesive license plate                                 $2.50             SS19     2      22      7/1/03

    Duplicate sticker                                           $1                SS19     2      22      7/1/03

    Motor vehicle transfer fee                    $2            $3                SS19     2      25      7/1/03

    Original motor vehicle title                  $2            $3                SS19     2      26      7/1/03

    Transfer of ownership and issuance of         $2            $3                SS19     2      26      7/1/03
    new title

    Reinstatement fee for driver’s license        $380          $430              SS19     2      40     7/1/03
    revoked for drunken driving violation

    ★ ★ ★

                                                                                                          petitions will be funded. All state agencies are
        Governor vetoes 3 bills                                Line-item Veto                             eligible to receive funding to cover the claims.
Editor’s Note: A total of 156 bills reached the                                                              However, the bill, minus the offending pro-
governor’s desk during the 2003 Legislative
Session.                                               ★
                                                            AGRICULTURE                                   vision, was later revived in the special session
                                                                                                          and signed into law by the governor.
    The governor vetoed two bills in full and line-
                                                                                                             According to the governor’s veto message,
item vetoed an appropriation from one more                 Pesticide fund transfer rejected
                                                                                                          the sticking point in the bill was a provision
                                                          Gov. Tim Pawlenty line-item vetoed an ag-
    The summaries in this section give brief de-                                                          that would have reimbursed the Bode family
                                                       riculture-related provision out of a new law
scriptions of each bill vetoed and some of the                                                            of Nicollet, Minn. up to $26,000 to restore a
                                                       that will direct some $636 million from the
reasons for the governor’s actions.                                                                       drain tiling system. The Department of Natu-
                                                       state’s general fund toward agriculture, eco-
    The bills are divided into two categories: full                                                       ral Resources (DNR) had twice removed the
                                                       nomic development, and the environment.
vetoes and line-item vetoes. Within the two                                                               system in a dispute over a wetlands designa-
                                                          The provision would have transferred
categories, the bills are arranged alphabetically                                                         tion on a small parcel of land on the family
                                                       $400,000 during the next biennium from the
by topic.                                                                                                 farm.
                                                       Department of Agriculture’s pesticide regula-
    Once a bill has passed both the House and the                                                            The Bodes and the DNR have been at odds
Senate in identical form, it is sent to the gover-     tory account to the Agriculture Utilization and
                                                                                                          for more than 20 years over the wetlands res-
nor. The governor has several options when             Research Institute commonly referred to by its
                                                                                                          toration order. The family argues that its par-
considering a bill. The governor can sign the bill     acronym AURI.
                                                                                                          cel is not large enough to be protected, but the
and it will become law; veto the bill; or line-item       The institute is a nonprofit corporation cre-
                                                                                                          order has been upheld by the state Supreme
veto individual items within an appropriations         ated to develop new markets and products,
bill.                                                  particularly value-added items, for Minnesota
                                                                                                             “This section of the bill reverses the deci-
    During the first year of the biennium the          agricultural products. It assists entrepreneurs
                                                                                                          sion made by the courts, setting a terrible pre-
governor has three days from the time of “pre-         along every product development step, from
                                                                                                          cedent for wetlands protection,” Pawlenty
sentment” to veto a bill. If the governor does not     research to marketing.
                                                                                                          wrote in his veto message. “The language …
sign the bill within this time frame, it will             The Agriculture Department is the state’s
become law without his signature. (Sundays are
                                                                                                          would also have a chilling effect on the state’s
                                                       lead agency for pesticide application licensing
not counted in the three-day time limit, but                                                              ability to protect wetlands.”
                                                       and monitoring. Fees and penalties collected
holidays are.)                                                                                               The claims law, signed by the governor af-
                                                       through the department’s efforts are depos-
    For bills passed during the last three days of                                                        ter the special session, approves reimburse-
                                                       ited in a pesticide regulatory account.
the second year of a biennium (even-numbered                                                              ments for claims against the Transportation,
                                                          “Transferral of this money would lead to
years), however, the governor has 14 days from                                                            Corrections, and Natural Resources depart-
                                                       fund insolvency necessitating consideration of
“presentment” during which he can use his veto                                                            ments, as well as the Office of the Attorney
                                                       a fee increase or core service reduction,” ac-
authority. If the governor takes no action on a                                                           General. It is effective July 1, 2003. (See related
                                                       cording to a press release issued by the
bill during this time, the bill is vetoed in what is                                                      story, page 35.)
called a “pocket veto.” These same rules govern        governor’s office. “The program plays a vital
                                                                                                             Rep. Bruce Anderson (R-Buffalo Township)
special session bills.                                 role in addressing pesticide misuse, monitor-
                                                                                                          and Sen. Wes Skoglund (DFL-Mpls) spon-
    Vetoed bills are returned to the body of origin,   ing water quality, worker protection, spill and
                                                                                                          sored both the regular and special session ver-
and the House and Senate may attempt to                emergency responsiveness.”
                                                                                                          sions of the bill.
override. A two-thirds vote in each house is              The veto does not alter a $3.2 million ap-
needed to override a veto (90 votes in the House       propriation to the institute from the state’s
and 45 votes in the Senate). Those bills remain        general fund.
alive until the close of the biennial session during      The measure was sponsored by Rep. Den-
the even-numbered year.                                nis Ozment (R-Rosemount) and Sen. Steve
    The governor can exercise line-item veto au-       Murphy (DFL-Red Wing).
thority on appropriations bills only. This option         HF967/SF905*/CH128
allows the governor to eliminate appropriation                                                             State agency rulemaking, local costs
items to which he or she objects. As with all                                                                Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill that would
vetoes, the governor must include a statement                                                             have required legislative approval before cer-
listing the reasons for the line-item veto with the
returned bill.                                                  Full Vetoes                               tain administrative rules took effect. Under the
                                                                                                          vetoed bill, if the initial or annual costs to any
    A specific listing of the sections of bills that                                                      one affected entity was estimated to exceed
were line-item vetoed is included in the Sum-
                                                            ENVIRONMENT                                   $10,000, the rule would not take effect until
mary section, which begins on page 97.
                                                                                                          approved by the legislature.
    The governor’s veto authority is outlined in               Wetlands dispute vetoed
the Minnesota Constitution. (Art. IV,
                                                                                                             A proposed rule has the full effect of law.
                                                         Gov. Tim Pawlenty exercised his veto au-            The governor expressed concern about the
Sec. 23)                                               thority for the first time on a bill that would    bill’s unintended consequences in his veto
                                                       have authorized the payment of $188,950 in         message.
                                                       various claims against the state.                     “This bill essentially shifts authority for
                                                         Each year, a joint House-Senate Subcom-          conducting rulemaking from the executive
                                                       mittee on Claims meets to determine which          branch to the legislative branch,” the governor

                                                                         L AW S

wrote. Under current law, the governor’s of-       with the proposed rules. If the initial or annual         The bill also would have required the com-
fice gives final approval on all rulemakings,      cost to an affected entity, minus the fiscal benefit   missioner of finance to prepare a local gov-
which Pawlenty called “sound policy as it pro-     of complying with the rules, were estimated to         ernment fiscal impact and fiscal benefit note
vides accountability in a way that does not        exceed $10,000, an administrative law judge            for a rule proposed by a state agency, upon
paralyze either branch of government.”             would have approved the determination.                 request of the elected governing body of a
   “Because the Legislature is only in session     Pawlenty said he thinks this threshold is too low      political subdivision.
for a few months out of the year, it is imprac-    and would result in the Legislature addressing            A fee to cover preparation costs would be
tical for the Legislature to act on all proposed   issues now delegated to agencies.                      charged the requesting governmental unit or
rules in a timely manner,” Pawlenty wrote.            If the judge failed to approve the agency’s de-     units. Once a request is received the commis-
“This delay in requiring legislative approval      termination, the rules could not take effect until     sioner would have provided a fee estimate.
could result in expiration of the timeliness for   they received legislative approval. This would not        Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) and Sen.
rules under current law.”                          be applicable if the Legislature appropriates          David Senjem (R-Rochester) sponsored the bill.
   Under the vetoed provision requiring legisla-   money to fund the expected cost or the rule has           HF624*/SF1070/CH103
tive approval of certain rules, state agencies     been proposed to address a specific federal statu-
would have determined the costs of complying       tory or regulatory mandate.

       ★ ★ ★

                                                      suspended by the city for three days. Custom-           their abusers for civil damages passed both the
       Bills considered, not passed                   ers who couldn’t buy cigarettes from him took           House and Senate in 2003, but a conference
       Editor’s Note: While New Laws 2003             their business elsewhere, which also affected           committee appointed to work out the differ-
    focuses on bills that were approved by the        gasoline and car wash sales.                            ences never concluded work on the bill prior
    Legislature, it is also important to mention         “These are (the result) of cashier errors,” he       to adjournment of the regular session.
    some of the bills that received attention         said. “No one wants to sell to minors.”                    Under the bill, victims of childhood sexual
    during the session, but did not become law.          However, allowing cities to impose their own         assault would have until age 27 to sue their
       Because this is the first year of the          penalties, which are often times more strict than       abuser in civil court as long as the abuse is
    two-year spending cycle, those measures           state mandates, has had a positive effect in re-        reported while they were children. If childhood
    remain alive, or viable, for consider-            ducing adolescent smoking, said Jean Forester, a        abuse is reported as an adult, victims would
    ation next year.                                  University of Minnesota professor.                      have five years after the date they report or
       At the end of the 2003 session, bills             The bill would impose a maximum $500 fine            until age 27, whichever occurs first, to file suit.
    remaining on the various calendars                for the first violation and a maximum of $1,000            There would be no limitation as to when a
    awaiting floor action were returned to            for the second violation. After a third violation,      suit could be filed if DNA evidence of the
    the committee of last action, where the           a maximum $5,000 fine, a license suspension of          abuse is available.
    bills will stay unless they are acted upon        up to seven days, or both may be imposed.                  House sponsor Rep. Mary Liz Holberg
    by the 2004 Legislature.                             In addition, a tobacco license may be sus-           (R-Lakeville) said her bill seeks to promote re-
       Bills remaining in conference com-             pended or revoked if the license holder fails to        porting of abuse among victims and their
    mittees that have not submitted a report          train employees in tobacco sales laws or disci-         families because it would allow more imme-
    upon adjournment of the session return            pline employees for violating them, under the           diate action to be taken against an abuser and
    to the body of origin and are set aside           bill, or if the licensee fails to adopt and enforce a   possibly prevent harm to others.
    temporarily (laid on the table). The con-         written policy to prevent sales to minors.                 The bill would also allow for an unlimited
    ference committees are disbanded.                    Three House committees approved the bill,            statute of limitations when seeking declara-
       Bills that passed one body but not the         but no floor vote was taken. In the Senate,             tory relief — a process where a court deter-
    other remain alive for the second year of         where Sen. David Knutson (R-Burnsville) is              mines what happened in a case without
    the biennium. The house that approved             the sponsor, the bill awaits committee action.          ordering any specific action such as incarcera-
    the bill in the first year need not repass           HF561/SF922                                          tion or damages.
    the bill in the second.                                                                                      Plaintiffs who succeed in such an action
       Bills remaining in standing commit-                                                                    could be awarded attorney’s fees unless the
    tees at the end of the 2003 session can be                                                                defendant admits the abuse within two
    taken up in the second year of the bien-
                                                           CHILDREN                                           months after a complaint is filed.
    nium by the committee to which they                                                                          The Senate version would instate a limit of
    were last referred.                                    Statute of limitations for abuse                   six years after the time a person realizes he or
                                                        A bill that would extend the amount of time           she was harmed by the abuse that they may
                                                      childhood sexual abuse victims have to sue              seek action for damages. There would be no

          Tobacco sales penalties
   An effort to make the penalties assessed for
selling cigarettes and tobacco products to mi-
nors more uniform will have to wait at least
until 2004.
   Current law allows cities to exceed state man-
dated minimum fines for businesses and clerks
found to be selling cigarettes and tobacco prod-
ucts to youth under age 18. Also left to local con-
trol is determining the number of days a
business’s tobacco license may be revoked,
should a suspension be invoked.
   Some cities have imposed fines and license
revocation periods so extreme that businesses
have lost substantial income, and in some
cases have had to close, said Rep. Chris Gerlach
(R-Apple Valley), the House sponsor.
   Tom Schlangen, who owns a New Hope
convenience store, told a House committee
that he has lost $50,000 annually since 1999                                                                                             PHOTO BY ANDREW VONBANK

when his store failed a compliance check for          A bill that would have made penalties for selling tobacco to minors more uniform failed to become law
                                                      in 2003, even though three House committees gave their approval.
the second time. His license was subsequently

Bills in Limbo
                                                                          L AW S

limit to how long a person might take to make        have been treated as a theft, punishable accord-    drunken drivers from dodging the law by driv-
such a discovery.                                    ing to the amount of money involved.                ing cars registered to a friend or family mem-
   Sen. Gary Kubly (DFL-Granite Falls) is the          After approval from two House committees,         ber. Under the bill, family and friends would
Senate sponsor. The bill is still alive in 2004      the bill stalled in the House Judiciary Policy      lose their vehicle unless they could prove that
and may be reconsidered by both houses.              and Finance Committee. In the Senate, it            they did not know the person to whom they
   HF386/SF575                                       awaits floor action.                                lent the vehicle was going to break a law.
                                                       The sponsors are Rep. Greg Davids (R-                While there appeared to be universal agree-
                                                     Preston) and Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope).          ment that the bill had good intentions, oppo-
                 Enhancing abuse penalty               HF980/SF969                                       nents objected that it cast too wide a net and
   Under existing state law, first-degree mur-                                                           risked taking valuable property from people
der is also the prescribed charge for cases of                                                           not involved in a crime. Rep. Ron Latz (DFL-
murder caused by child abuse when the mur-                                                               St. Louis Park) argued the bill raises the stan-
derer has a history of abusing that child. A bill,
                                                          CRIME                                          dard of proof for vehicle owners to “clearly and
which stalled awaiting action by the full House,                                                         convincingly” demonstrate they did not have
would expand that offense to include a proven                   First-degree murder                      knowledge that the vehicle would be used to
history of abuse against any child.                     The definition of first-degree murder would      break the law.
   Rep. Doug Meslow (R-White Bear Lake) and          expand under a bill that passed a House com-           Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL-Grand Rapids)
Sen. Leo Foley (DFL-Coon Rapids) are the             mittee in 2003, but stalled awaiting action by      said he worried the definition of family mem-
sponsors.                                            the full House. It will remain alive in 2004.       ber was unrealistically broad.
   The bill received approval from the House            Murdering a child under age 14 with pre-            In addition to parents or spouses, the bill
Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee in            meditation and intent would explicitly become       also defines “family or household member” as
2003. During that hearing, members won-              first-degree murder under the bill, sponsored       siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, neph-
dered aloud if increasing the penalties for this     by Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Cen-           ews, grandparents, great-grandparents, and
and other related first-degree murder charges        ter) and Sen. Wes Skoglund (DFL-Mpls). The          people “residing together” or people “who
would be wise given the state’s budget situa-        bill would also add that crime to the list of       regularly associate and communicate with one
tion and the potential that it would increase        first-degree offenses requiring life in prison      another outside a workplace setting.”
the number of offenders in the prison system         without release.                                       A separate provision of the bill specifies that
or the time they spend in the system.                   Hilstrom said she proposed the bill at the       trailers and vehicles on trailers cannot be con-
   The Senate version passed through one             request of the Attorney General’s office, which     fiscated along with the car towing them. If
committee and awaits action in the Senate Fi-        hopes to deter crime against children and give      someone were convicted of operating a boat
nance Committee.                                     prosecutors additional leverage when han-           while impaired, under the bill, the state could
   HF432/SF136                                       dling such cases.                                   take both the boat and the trailer used to tow
                                                        She said the law would only be applied to        it but not the car used to pull it.
                                                     an estimated one case each year.                       Minnesota’s vehicle forfeiture law applies to
                                                        Other crimes eligible for life in prison with-
        CONSUMERS                                    out release include murder/rape, murder/kid-
                                                                                                         people who have committed a drunken driv-
                                                                                                         ing offense with two or more aggravating fac-
                                                     napping, murdering a prison guard or peace          tors, such as:
                  Credit card skimming               officer who is performing official duties, and      • having a prior drunken driving conviction,
   A bill that would protect credit card users       murder in connection with terrorism.                • having a blood alcohol content above
from the unlawful practice of skimming, a               Some life sentences in Minnesota include            .20 percent, or
form of credit card theft, stalled in 2003, but      the possibility of release after 30 years at the    • having a child under age 16 in the car.
remains alive for 2004.                              discretion of corrections officials. Convicts          Rep. Doug Fuller (R-Bemidji) and Sen. Leo
   An emerging type of consumer fraud, credit        released under this sentence spend the rest of      Foley (DFL-Coon Rapids) are the sponsors.
card skimming occurs when an employee of a           their life on supervised release.                      HF392/SF388*
store or restaurant processes the customer’s            HF550/SF1319                                        2003 Special Session: HF26/SF14*
card through an electronic device, known as a
skimmer, that records the card number. The
number is then used illegally for purchases,
                                                              Vehicle forfeiture woes                               Paying for treatment
either over the phone or Internet. In some
                                                        Several attempts to pass a bill that would          Convicted sex offenders in Minnesota
cases the number is transferred to a blank card,
                                                     have changed Minnesota’s vehicle forfeiture         would have to pay a price for their treatments
which is then used as if it were a legitimate
                                                     laws failed during both the regular and spe-        under a bill the House approved 133-0 on
credit card.
                                                     cial session in 2003, but the bill remains alive    May 19, the last day of the regular session.
   The bill would have made illegal the fraudu-
                                                     for 2004.                                              Originally approved 65-0 by the Senate
lent use of skimmers, usually small, hand-held
                                                        The bill would make it easier for the state to    May 14, that body did not have time to again
devices that can be concealed, and re-encod-
                                                     take vehicles away from repeat drunken drivers      take up the bill with the House amendment
ing devices, used to make fake credit cards.
                                                     by no longer requiring that the driver themselves   before adjournment.
   It also laid out a penalty of up to 90 days in
                                                     own the vehicle subject to forfeiture.                 Under the bill, organizations providing
jail or a fine of up to $1,000 if no money were
                                                        Supporters of the bill said it would keep        treatment to sex offenders could charge and
lost. If money were lost, then the fraud would
                                                                                                         collect co-payments from all offenders in their

                                                                          L AW S
                                                                                                                                                 Bills in Limbo


programs. The commissioner of corrections            accepts a bid on a building project, part of the       The bill made it to the House floor, but no
would develop a fee schedule spelling out how        negotiation could include project labor agree-      vote was taken. It failed in the Senate Educa-
large the co-payment amounts would have to           ments. The contracts are not legally required,      tion Committee.
be. The bill specifies that fees collected in this   but can guarantee workers would not strike.            During a vigorous debate in the House Edu-
manner would have to be used to fund a                  For projects that include both union and         cation Policy Committee, bill opponents and
provider’s cost of treatment.                        non-union workers, non-union contractors            supporters disagreed on such issues as con-
   Rep. Rob Eastlund (R-Isanti) successfully         must pay union prevailing wages. Part of the        dom use, whether school curricula encourage
amended a provision onto the legislation that        wage goes to union funds, even if the worker        students to be sexually active, and if abstinence
would prohibit people who are civilly commit-        isn’t a member of a union.                          programs are an effective method in teaching
ted due to sexually psychopathic personalities          Robert Heise, president of the Minnesota As-     sex education.
from possessing or receiving pornographic            sociation of Builders and Contractors, said that       Barbara Anderson, representing the Min-
materials while in custody. The provision            small business owners are being discriminated       nesota Family Council, objected to compre-
would apply to anyone receiving services in a        against, and the agreements cost taxpayers more     hensive sex education programs in schools
secure treatment facility operated by the Min-       dollars because of the requirement of paying        with content that, she said, includes “human
nesota sex offender program or any other cor-        union wages to non-union employees.                 reproduction, birth control methods, homo-
rections facility.                                      Speaking for the measure, Dick Anfang,           sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual
   Rep. Judy Soderstrom (R-Mora) and Sen.            president of Minnesota Building and Con-            identity, orgasm, and masturbation.” She said
Wes Skoglund (DFL-Mpls) sponsor the bill.            struction Trades Council, said small non-           some programs teach students “how to engage
   HF921/SF906*                                      union contractors don’t have enough workers         in all sorts of sex acts without guilt.”
                                                     to complete a large project, so they have to hire      Bonnie Young Johnson, a health teacher in
                                                     union workers and pay corresponding wages.          Eden Prairie, said abstinence “is not ignored
                                                        Citing good success with project labor           or slighted” in school curriculums. She said
        Security camera installers
                                                     agreements, Anfang explained that they cre-         the bill repeats what already exists in state law
   A bill that would require background or
                                                     ate a partnership among participating entities.     and “could lead to omission (of information)
criminal history checks for security company
                                                     Also, he emphasized the wages taken from a          rather than giving as much as possible.”
workers stalled in a House committee, but re-
                                                     non-union worker’s pay can be obtained by              Rachel Hicks, a senior from Brooklyn Park,
mains alive for 2004.
                                                     the worker upon joining the union.                  said 55 percent of high school seniors in the
   Minnesota state law does not currently require
                                                        House sponsor Rep. Barb Sykora                   state are or have been sexually active. Students
such background checks. Testifiers showed
                                                     (R-Excelsior) said the bill creates a level play-   would “tune out” an abstinence-only message,
members how easy it is for security company
                                                     ing field. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Brian         she said.
workers to tap into surveillance equipment and
                                                     LeClair (R-Woodbury).                                  HF580/SF747
security systems all over the nation.
                                                        The House version passed three committees
   Under the bill, which stalled in the House
                                                     and awaits action in the House Education Fi-
Ways and Means Committee, businesses
                                                     nance Committee. Its companion measure
would pay the state Bureau of Criminal Ap-                                                                         Fighting an expulsion
                                                     awaits action in the Senate State and Local
prehension to conduct background checks on                                                                  The appeal of a public school student’s ex-
                                                     Government Operations Committee.
potential employees.                                                                                     pulsion would go directly to the state Court
   Background checks would also be required for                                                          of Appeals, under a bill proposed, but not
holders of certain electrician and contractor li-                                                        passed, in 2003.
censes that do electronic security system work.                                                             Current state law requires that a school
   The Senate version also stalled in committee.
   Rep. Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson) and Sen.          ★
                                                          EDUCATION                                      board-ordered expulsion must first be ap-
                                                                                                         pealed to the state’s education commissioner.
Becky Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) sponsor the bill.                                                                The bill would remove the middle step in
   HF773/SF797                                                 Promoting abstinence                      appealing a school expulsion decision, said
                                                        For the second straight year a bill that would   Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan), the House
                                                     require public schools to emphasize sexual          sponsor. The judicial review option is avail-
                                                     abstinence in health education classes failed       able under current law, but only after the edu-

     DEVELOPMENT                                     to become law.                                      cation commissioner has reviewed and ruled
                                                        Sponsored by Rep. Sondra Erickson                on the decision. The bill would allow a school
              Labor contracts                        (R-Princeton) and Sen. Betsy Wergin                 district to implement an expulsion decision
  Project labor agreements will continue to          (R-Princeton), the bill would amend state law       during an appeal.
hold their place in state and local building         to require that school districts “provide stu-         Bob Brick, representing the Coalition for
projects because a bill that would have pro-         dents with a curriculum and instruction in ab-      Students with Disabilities, spoke against the
hibited state and local governments from re-         stinence until marriage premised on risk            bill. He said the state’s Education Department
quiring a non-union contractor to pay                avoidance.” Current law requires a school           is in a better position than the court to pro-
workers union wages or pay dues to labor             district’s health education program on sexu-        tect a student’s interests.
unions failed to become law in 2003. It re-          ally transmitted infections and diseases to in-        Of 1,529 student expulsions in the state
mains alive for 2004.                                clude “helping students abstain from sexual         during the past five years, Brick said, 14 per-
  Currently, when a state or local government        activity until marriage.”                           cent involved students with disabilities. He

Bills in Limbo
                                                                           L AW S

said 45 expulsion cases were appealed to the           Sponsored by Rep. Alice Seagren                      the opposite,” she said. “Charters have been cre-
education commissioner and four cases were          (R-Bloomington) and Sen. Steve Kelley (DFL-             ated for at-risk and high-risk students.”
appealed to the court.                              Hopkins), the bill would allow school boards               HF452/SF799
   Roger Aronson, counsel for the Minnesota         “and one or more licensed teachers” to form a
Association of Elementary and Secondary             charter school without the approval of the
School Principals, said expulsion decisions are     state’s education commissioner.
better made at the local level.                        A charter school, under the proposal, must                          Small school aid
   The bill made it to the House floor, but no      implement the local school board’s “strategic               A bill to create a special state fund that small
vote was taken.                                     plan for public education.” The sponsoring               public school districts could tap into to help
   The Senate Education Committee tabled a          school board would select up to two members              them stay viable was not included in the om-
companion bill, sponsored by Sen. David             of the charter school’s board of directors.              nibus education finance law.
Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm).                              Other provisions include the following re-               Sponsored by Rep. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin
   HF822/SF1031                                     quirements:                                              Valley), the bill would create “small school
                                                    • a charter school must submit its budget and            sustainability revenue” by shifting existing state
                                                       learning program to the sponsoring school             education funds. Districts that qualify could use
                                                       board for review and comment,                         the revenue to hire and retain teachers, for tech-
           History curriculum concerns              • the sponsoring school board must provide               nology and curriculum improvements, deferred
   A bill that would ensure public school stu-         facilities for the charter school and obligates       maintenance, and collaborative activities with
dents have access to copies of some of                 the charter school to pay the school district         other school districts.
America’s founding documents with religious            for facility operating costs, and                        Beginning in fiscal year 2005, the bill would
content made it to the House floor in 2003,         • in its bylaws a charter school must declare            create $28 million in revenue for small schools
but received no vote.                                  which of three alternatives it will use to acquire    by eliminating the alternative facilities aid
   It would direct school districts to implement       teaching services — from a professional prac-         fund primarily used by larger urban districts
an instructional policy giving students the            tice organization, from teachers currently            and by dedicating the portion of the state gen-
opportunity to learn about historical docu-            employed by the sponsoring school board, or           eral levy that is currently reserved for nonspe-
ments important to the country’s develop-              from teachers outside the school district.            cific education purposes.
ment. The policy would permit an educator              There are 78 charter schools operating in                There are only seven school districts that re-
to use or post a document or excerpt that con-      the state, under the authority of a state law first      ceive alternative facilities aid from the state. The
tains religious content and is related to na-       enacted in 1991. A school board; an educa-               Minneapolis and St. Paul districts account for
tional or state history.                            tion district; a nonprofit organization that’s           $14.7 million of the $19.3 million the state allo-
   The bill also would require that historical      registered with the state Attorney General’s             cates for some school districts to renovate older
documents and “any other materials must be          Office and has $2 million of assets; or a pub-           school buildings that meet a size requirement.
used for educational purposes and not to es-        lic or private four-year university or college,             Kim Davidson, an elementary school
tablish any religion.”                              community college, or technical college can              teacher in Crookston Public Schools, testified
   “This is about mandating academic free-          sponsor charter schools.                                 in support of the bill. “Many teachers in rural
dom,” said Rep. Mark Olson (R-Big Lake), the           Seagren said fears that charter schools would         Minnesota believe they have been forgotten,”
House sponsor. “It’s not mandating that a re-       take “the best and the brightest” students in a          said Davidson, who taught in a large subur-
ligious item be studied, but (that it be) allowed   school district have not been realized. “It’s been       ban district before moving to the state’s north-
under the parameters of academic freedom.”                                                                                             west region.
   Among more than a dozen document ex-                                                                                                  For fiscal year 2003,
amples in the bill is the Mayflower Compact,                                                                                           approximately 53 per-
the state and federal constitutions, the Decla-                                                                                        cent of public school
ration of Independence, the Pledge of Alle-                                                                                            students in the state
giance in its current and original forms, and                                                                                          were enrolled in seven
the Federalist Papers.                                                                                                                 school districts in the
   Citing the historical documents listed in the                                                                                       Twin Cities metropoli-
bill, Rep. Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal), a                                                                                             tan area, according to
retired teacher, said, “Most of what’s in here is                                                                                      information Eken pro-
taught in most social studies classes.”                                                                                                vided. The next highest
   In the Senate, where Sen. Michele                                                                                                   percentage was the
Bachmann (R-Stillwater) is the sponsor, the                                                                                            east-central area of the
bill awaits committee action.                                                                                                          state with 11 percent of
   HF476/SF139                                                                                                                         the students. Northwest
                                                                                                                                       Minnesota school dis-
                                                                                                              PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
                                                                                                                                       tricts have 4 percent of
                                                    A number of education bills failed to receive Legislative approval in 2003,
                 Charter school creation            but remain alive for the 2004 session. Among the topics in those bills are aid the state’s public school
  A bill that would make it easier for school       for small public school districts, history curriculum, charter school creations, students.
districts to create charter schools failed to re-   and student survey procedures.                                                       HF1088/SFnone
ceive approval in 2003.

                                                                         L AW S
                                                                                                                                                  Bills in Limbo


         Earlier school year start                                                                         school boards hold a public meeting to air
   A plan to permit the Rochester School Dis-                                                              grievances related to a coach. “Some reasons
trict to begin classes in August failed in 2003,                                                           should be made public and some should not
but is still up for discussion in 2004.                                                                    be,” Meeks said.
   Under the bill, the district would be perma-                                                               Sen. Steve Dille (R-Dassel) sponsors the bill
nently exempted from state restrictions against                                                            in the Senate where it awaits action by the Sen-
starting the school year before Sept. 1.                                                                   ate Education Committee.
   The bill made it to the House floor, but no                                                                HF680/SF708
vote was taken. It failed in its lone Senate
   Jerry Williams, superintendent of Roches-                                                                    Special education scholarships
ter Public Schools, testified in support of the                                                               A plan to allow state-funded private school
bill. He suggested that adjusting the school-                                                              scholarships for children with disabilities
year schedule would alleviate some glitches                                                                failed to receive committee approval in either
experienced in the past.                                                                                   the House or Senate in 2003.
   Williams said 2,000 of the district’s students                                                             The bill would provide scholarships for spe-
are involved in school activities prior to the                                                             cial education students receiving instruction
traditional post-Labor Day opening of the                                                                  and services based on an individual education
school year. Other students who are involved                                                               plan, a federal requirement for students diag-
in post-secondary summer school classes have                                                               nosed with learning disabilities.
had occasions where college classes have al-                                                                  The scholarships would be funded on a per-
ready begun while their high school is still in                                                            student basis through the state’s general edu-
session in the spring.                                                            PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID   cation revenue and additional state
   The Minnesota Association of Innkeepers          A proposal to require school boards to provide         equalization aid to school districts. To be eli-
and the Congress of Minnesota Resorts               written reasons for not renewing a varsity head        gible a special education student would have
                                                    coach’s annual contract did not become law in          to be enrolled in a state school district for at
oppose the bill.                                    2003, but remains alive for consideration in 2004.
   Changing the law for Rochester “has the                                                                 least one year.
potential to encompass all schools in Minne-           “It simply is a matter of fairness,” said Rep.         Rep. Barb Sykora (R-Excelsior), the House
sota,” said Mike Wilmer, president of the inn-      Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), the House spon-            sponsor, said the bill is “a concept worth seri-
keepers association. That “could be                 sor and a teacher with 25 years of high school         ous consideration. I thought this was a win-
devastating” to the state’s summer resort and       coaching experience. He said the bill would            win for everybody,” including special
tourist industry, he said.                          provide coaches, who have annual contracts             education parents satisfied with the public
   State statutes currently provide only one        with a school district, hearing rights similar         school system. “No one has to do this so no
exception to the Sept. 1 school year start date:    to those provided a probationary teacher. The          one is losing a right.”
if a district has at least a $400,000 construc-     bill would apply to unlicensed coaches, as well           Jim Bartholomew, director of government
tion or remodeling project that affects use of      as coaches who are licensed teachers.                  relations for the state Education Department,
a school building. On a case-by-case basis, the        John Erickson, executive director of the            told a House committee that Gov. Tim
Legislature has authorized other one-time           Minnesota State High School Coaches Asso-              Pawlenty and the department support the bill
exemptions from the start date.                     ciation, and Tom Crithley, the group’s execu-          because it meets a “policy goal of expanded
   Rep. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and Sen.         tive director of boys basketball, testified before     opportunities.”
Sheila Kiscaden (IP-Rochester) are the sponsors.    the House Education Policy Committee in                   John Hoffman of Champlin, whose 6-year-
   HF535/SF391                                      support of the bill.                                   old daughter has spina bifida, spoke in oppo-
                                                       “Some parents want to pick and choose the           sition to the bill. “Stop this,” he said. “I’m
                                                    high school coach,” Erickson said. He said the         opposed to a voucher system whose rallying
             Coaching contract                      bill would not weaken a local school board’s           point is funding and not equal opportunity
   A school district would be required to pro-      control.                                               to education.”
vide written reasons for not renewing a var-           Crithley said there were 70 new high school            Said Bob Brick, executive director of Pacer
sity head coach’s annual contract, under a bill     varsity basketball coaches in the state during         Center, a statewide training and information
approved by the House, but not the Senate.          the 2002-03 season, a turnover he attributed           group for special education parents, “There are
Further action on the provision must wait           to younger coaches leaving due to the volatil-         no requests for this type of voucher program.
until 2004.                                         ity of the job.                                        The level of discontent (with public school
   The bill would require the hiring school            Bob Meeks, representing the Minnesota               special education) does not exist.”
board to give the coach its reasons for termi-      School Boards Association, expressed con-                 Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina) is the Senate
nating a contract within 10 days of the coach’s     cerns about the bill. Coaches are unique and           sponsor.
request. It would also require that school          can be employed by a school district in a sta-            HF1266/SF1160
boards provide “timely notice” for a dismissed      tus different from teachers, he said. Their work
coach and a “reasonable opportunity” for the        is out of the classroom in a voluntary student
coach to respond to the board’s reasoning at a      extracurricular activity.                                       Student survey consent
public meeting.                                        He opposed the bill’s requirement that                A parent or guardian’s written consent

Bills in Limbo
                                                                            L AW S

would be required prior to a school district          American Indians live within a 60-mile radius         apply to them, the mandate would not apply to
obtaining information about a student or their        of Bemidji State University, which has offered free   those districts after adjournment of the next leg-
family via surveys and other similar means,           office space to the state to house the program.       islative session unless the Legislature enacts a law
under a bill heard, but not approved, in 2003.           White told a House committee that his tribal       to prohibit opting out of that mandate.
   The bill would provide similar privacy pro-        council would also help the state fund the of-           The bill would require a district to state the
tection as outlined in the federal No Child Left      fice if it were re-opened in Bemidji. The schol-      reason it wants to be relieved of a state mandate
Behind legislation. It “limits information gath-      arship program has benefited a greater                and “indicate how the school district will other-
ered from students without parental consent,”         number of American Indians than nearly ev-            wise meet the objectives of the mandate.” A local
through surveys, assessments, evaluations, or         ery other government program, White said.             school board would be required to hold at least
similar means, said Rep. Mary Liz Holberg                Yvonne Novack, the scholarship program             one public hearing on the issue and identify the
(R-Lakeville), who sponsors the bill with Sen.        manager, said 54 percent of the schools that          district’s costs of mandate compliance that would
Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater).                      benefit from the scholarship money are in the         exceed state and federal funds the district re-
   When seeking consent for student partici-          Twin Cities metropolitan area. She said one-          ceives. The district would also have to identify
pation, the bill would require school districts       third of the students receiving scholarships live     the state or federal revenue it could lose by opt-
to provide parents with a copy of the instru-         and attend colleges in the Twin Cities area and       ing out of the state mandate.
ment used to obtain information.                      one-third attend colleges and post-secondary             State mandates districts could not opt out
   The bill would prohibit a school district          programs in Bemidji.                                  of, under the bill, include election law, prop-
from soliciting the following information                According to the Minnesota Indian Education        erty taxes, and financial accounting and audit
about a student, through a survey or other            Committee, 667 students receiving scholarships        requirements.
means, without a parent’s or guardian’s con-          in 2001-02 were from northern Minnesota and              Sen. Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) is the
sent: political beliefs; psychological problems;      334 were from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.          Senate sponsor.
sexual behavior or attitudes; illegal or antiso-         Rep. Doug Fuller (R-Bemidji) and Sen. Rod             HF472/SF737
cial behavior; legally recognized privileged re-      Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook) are the sponsors.
lationships (such as doctor-patient or                   The bill was recommended to pass by two
attorney-client); religious practices or affilia-     House committees and awaits action in a third.                    Contracting services
tions; and income or income-related informa-          One Senate committee gave its approval, and              A bill that would permit school districts to
tion required to determine eligibility for            the bill awaits action by the Senate Education        unilaterally negotiate contracts with outside
financial assistance.                                 Committee.                                            vendors for non-instructional services failed
   The bill made it to the House floor, but no           HF509/SF258                                        to receive committee approval.
vote was taken. In the Senate it awaits action                                                                 Sponsored by Rep. Philip Krinkie
in the Senate Education Committee.                                                                          (R-Shoreview) and Sen. Gen Olson
   HF906/SF1406                                                                                             (R-Minnetrista), the bill would allow school
                                                                    Mandate opt out                         boards to “unilaterally contract or subcontract
                                                         School districts will not be allowed to opt        for services” like food service, building main-
     American Indian scholarship office               out of state mandates for at least another year       tenance, and transportation, unless prohibited
   A bill that would transfer the powers, du-         because a bill that would establish a procedure       by a union contract.
ties, and obligations related to the American         to accomplish this failed to receive approval            Districts may now contract for outside ser-
Indian post-secondary scholarship program             in 2003. This bill is essentially identical to the    vices. But the bill would allow the district to
to the Higher Education Services Office will          bill providing local governments generally a          contract for services with an outside vendor
have to wait until 2004.                              procedure to follow for opting out of man-            even if the contract replaces union employ-
   The bill would also transfer administration        dates. (See related story, page XX.) Both bills       ees, once a 45-day mediation period has passed
of the program from the former Department             define mandate the same way.                          and either the union or management declares
of Children, Families and Learning (now De-              A similar proposal also failed in 2002.            an impasse in those negotiations. That provi-
partment of Education) based in Roseville                Rep. Mark Olson (R-Big Lake), the House            sion would be effective for contract negotia-
back to Bemidji, where the program had been           sponsor, said the bill does not target any par-       tions with any union employees, excluding
administered since its inception until state          ticular mandate. Rather, it is intended to fos-       teachers, under the bill.
budget cuts in 2002 led the department to close       ter intergovernmental communication                      Krinkie told the House Education Finance
that office and one in Duluth.                        regarding these regulations, which does not           Committee that the bill would provide school
   Established in 1955, the Indian Scholarship        occur under the existing system, he said.             boards with the right to contract with whom-
Program has provided an average of 1,000                 Opponents said it could potentially allow          ever they choose, for non-instructional ser-
scholarships per year for American Indian stu-        school districts to seek release from special         vices. The committee took no action on the
dents to attend post-secondary educational            education, transportation, health, and safety         bill.
institutions. The average student award is            standards or the state’s public employee bar-            Representatives of school boards, school
$1,858 per year.                                      gaining law, among other mandates. Olson              administrator organizations, and business
   Peter White, chairman of the Leech Lake Band       said it was not the bill’s intent to allow dis-       groups testified in support of the bill. Repre-
of Ojibwe, spoke in favor of the bill. “It was dis-   tricts to avoid responsibility for a mandate.         sentatives of unions representing school dis-
turbing to me that (Bemidji) was taken away,”            Under the bill, if 10 percent (approximately       trict employees opposed it.
he said. “Education should not be subject to          35) of the state’s school districts were to notify       Duane Benson, executive director of the
politics.” He said 70 percent of the state’s          the state that a required mandate should not          Minnesota Business Partnership, said the bill

                                                                         L AW S
                                                                                                                                                  Bills in Limbo


would provide school districts “the opportu-        to apply to the state’s education commissioner          Minnesota is one of two states that offers a
nity to save some money” by allowing more           to open the school, which would not be eli-          subsidy program to individuals running for
contracting.                                        gible for state building lease aid, since it would   office, with only Maine having something
   Charles Kyte, executive director of the Min-     be located on Northwood’s campus.                    similar, said Seifert.
nesota Association of School Administrators            Rep. Alice Seagren (R-Bloomington) and               Opponents of the bill voiced concerns over
said, “Even having the option (of more con-         Sen. Bob Kierlin (R-Winona) are the sponsors.        the potential violation of free speech.
tracting) available will increase efficiency with      The bill stalled in the Senate Finance               Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) said cam-
existing employees.”                                Committee.                                           paigning is one of the “highest forms of free
   Frank Miskowiec, president of Service Em-           HF1146/SF1237                                     speech” and the language in the bill didn’t de-
ployees International Union Local 63 in Min-                                                             fine a distorted photograph.
neapolis, which represents 400 school                                                                       Seifert told the House Governmental Op-
custodians, said his union has agreed to pay                    Fiscal impact notes                      erations and Veterans Affairs Policy Commit-
freezes in the past when the school district           The chair or ranking minority member of           tee that he didn’t expect the bill to pass, and
faced budget problems. The bill would “open         the House or Senate tax committee can now            was using it as a measure to bring both politi-
schools to companies that care more about the       request a local impact note from the Depart-         cal parties together, in hopes of each signing a
bottom line than our kids,” he said.                ment of Finance when proposed legislation            legally binding document to not deliberately
   The Senate bill awaits action in the Senate      affects a city or county. However, affected          distort photographs in campaign literature.
Education Committee.                                school districts will not be added to that list         Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL-Grand Rapids)
   HF1109/SF1315                                    this year, because a bill to do so did not be-       had asked whether the bill would apply to tele-
                                                    come law in 2003. It remains alive in 2004.          vision ads. Seifert said such ads would be
                                                       Sponsored by Rep. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis         considered campaign material, which would
                                                    Park), the bill awaits action by the House Taxes     be covered by the bill. But, he added, the bill
        Charter school plan stalls                  Committee, and it has no Senate companion.           would only affect state and local elections, not
   Northwood Children’s Services will have to          Latz said school districts “make up 40 per-       federal.
wait at least another year before gaining eligi-    cent of the state budget” and the Legislature           The bill failed to receive a vote on the House
bility to open a charter school.                    should make “well-educated and informed              floor, and the Senate version stalled in com-
   A bill that would provide for a six-year pi-     decisions” on unfunded mandates that might           mittee in 2003.
lot project for the residential and day treat-      have an impact on local schools.                        HF807/SF899
ment center to operate a charter school was            Bob Meeks, director of governmental relations
not included in the omnibus education fi-           with the Minnesota School Boards Association,
nance bill.                                         said the organization supports the bill.                   Contributing campaign funds
   Located in Duluth, the nonprofit, multi-            He said the state assumed more responsi-             Legislators and constitutional officers may
service agency provides care and treatment          bility for education funding in tax adjustments      continue to accept campaign contributions
programs to children. Services include resi-        within the past few years, and asked the com-        from special interest groups or political action
dential and day treatment, diagnostic and as-       mittee how schools could be “funded ad-              committees during a special session.
sessment services, mental health services, and      equately if you don’t know the impact on                Rep. Dan Dorman (R-Albert Lea), the
therapeutic foster care. Special education ser-     school districts.”                                   House sponsor of a bill that would have pro-
vices at Northwood are currently provided by           The bill would also add the chairs or rank-       hibited the action, said legislators “should play
the Duluth School District.                         ing minority members of the House Ways and           by the same rules” during all times of session.
   The charter school would be a public school      Means and Senate Finance committees to the           Current law applies only during the regular
with open enrollment, Dr. James Yeager, the         list of legislators who could request a fiscal       session.
agency president, told a House committee.           note.                                                   Statutes prohibiting contributions apply to
“We’d just like the opportunity to be innova-          HF674/SFnone                                      candidates for the Legislature or constitutional
tive, creative, and (to) grow,” Yeager said.                                                             office, a candidate’s principal campaign com-
   Bruce Johnson, principal of two residential                                                           mittee, or a party unit established by a party
and day treatment schools in the Duluth area,                                                            organization within the Legislature.
opposes the bill.
                                                         ELECTIONS                                          Those who cannot contribute include a reg-
   “If we were doing a lousy job, I would not                                                            istered lobbyist, political committee, political
be here,” Johnson said. A charter school                      Distorted photographs                      fund, or dissolving principal campaign
“would destroy the continuity of the program          Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) says he            committee.
we provide,” he said.                               wants to put a stop to using distorted photo-           The bill was approved by the House Gov-
   When students transfer to a charter school,      graphs of opponents in campaign material.            ernmental Operations and Veterans Affairs
the school district loses about $6,000 per stu-       To accomplish that, Seifert sponsored a bill       Policy Committee but didn’t come up for a
dent in state education aid. That money be-         with Sen. Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater)            vote on the floor.
comes part of the charter school’s operating        that would take away public funds to candi-             Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL-Grand Rapids)
revenue. Children in the center’s care and          dates running for office if a candidate sup-         said he was a part of the original conference
treatment programs would have enrollment            ported by one of the legislative caucuses were       committee in a previous session that created
preference at the charter school.                   found guilty of the offense. Seifert said the bill   the current law. He said the reason they didn’t
   Northwood Children’s Services would have         would make “everyone be nice to each other.”         include special session in the initial legislation

Bills in Limbo
                                                                          L AW S

was because a governor can call one at any          remains alive through the 2004 session.               award that would increase salaries.
time. Therefore, if a legislator has a scheduled       Sponsored by Rep. Jim Knoblach                        Labor organization representatives said the
fundraising event, it might have to be canceled     (R-St. Cloud) and Sen. Dave Knutson                   wage freeze would not necessarily prevent
or rescheduled.                                     (R-Burnsville), the bill would let employers          layoffs.
   Rep. Eric Lipman (R-Lake Elmo) said the          pass along basic employment information                  The freeze was successfully amended in the
bill could give the governor too much power.        such as wages and job description as well as          committee by Rep. Stephanie Olsen (R-Brook-
   He cited the situation in September 2002         written disclosures of any instances of theft,        lyn Park) to not apply to school districts, cit-
when former Gov. Jesse Ventura called a spe-        harassment, violence, or other illegal conduct        ies, counties, and townships. Also excluded are
cial session to deal with flood relief, and that    that has been documented in the employee’s            hospital workers and hospital districts.
those in competition for his job would have         record. The employee’s consent would not be              “How much does your bill save?” asked Rep.
been unable to raise funds during the time if       required for disclosure of this information.          Loren Solberg (DFL-Grand Rapids). Gerlach
this bill were then law.                               Knoblach said many companies are reluc-            responded the bill would help agencies mod-
   HF539/SFnone                                     tant to pass on significant information about         erate the anticipated 15 percent reduction in
                                                    their employees to other companies for fear           their budgets attributed to the governor’s cuts,
                                                    of expensive lawsuits resulting when an em-           but there is not a direct savings.
                 Political phone surveys            ployee thinks the information shared hurt                Solberg said there’s “no guarantee of sav-
   A person or company that conducts a phone        their chance to get a job. The consequences can       ing any jobs, we’re not saving money. …
survey relating to a candidate running for of-      be dangerous, he said, when the information           (We’re) taking away negotiation rights for two
fice or any political subdivision still cannot be   failing to be passed along deals with violent         years. We’re telling public employees, ‘This is
held liable for refusing to give certain infor-     behavior, illegal activity, or sexual misconduct      what you get.’”
mation to a survey recipient, because a bill        in the workplace.                                        The bill still awaits committee action in both
providing for that did not pass in 2003.               Employees wanting to bring suit under the          bodies and may be reconsidered and amended
   Under the bill, the name, address, and tele-     bill would have to meet a high burden of proof        in 2004, though state employee contracts will
phone number of the company conducting the          by showing clear and convincing evidence that         likely be established prior to that time.
survey, and whether it’s being done in coop-        the information was both knowingly incorrect             HF793/SF773
eration with or for a candidate must be re-         and harmful to them.
vealed at the end of the conversation.                 A provision in the bill dealing specifically
   Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder), who          with school districts would require districts to         Operators as essential employees
sponsored the bill with Sen. Julie Rosen            share documented information about sexual                Public safety radio communications opera-
(R-Fairmont), said that when he was running         misconduct or violence towards a student.             tors are still not considered “essential” state
for office he received a disturbing phone call,        A similar bill passed both houses of the Leg-      employees for purposes of the Public Employ-
which prompted him to develop the bill.             islature in 2001, but did not make it past a          ment Labor Relations Act.
   He explained that a “college-aged student,”      conference committee.                                    Rep. Ron Erhardt (R-Edina), the House
not knowing she’d reached the candidate the            HF480/SF837                                        sponsor of a bill making operators essential
survey was targeting, asked him misleading                                                                employees, said public safety radio commu-
questions. He explained that the questions and                                                            nications operators serve a highly skilled tech-
answers could have led a constituent to draw                  Salary and wage freeze                      nical area and it’s difficult to find someone else
improper conclusions about his political               A bill that would have implemented a state         to fill in.
beliefs.                                            employee wage freeze during the 2004-05 bi-              Under the classification, the employees
   He said he asked the caller to give him the      ennium failed to become law while lawmak-             would have had to give up their right to strike
name of the company conducting the survey,          ers established the budget in 2003.                   and go to arbitration if labor negotiations did
her name, or that of a supervisor, none of             In light of the multi-billion dollar state defi-   not result in an agreement.
which were given. The caller ultimately hung        cit facing legislators, Rep. Chris Gerlach               Col. Anne Beers, chief of the Minnesota
up on him.                                          (R-Apple Valley) told a House committee, “I           State Patrol, explained there are 10 centers
   The House bill made it to the floor, but no      think that a public employee salary freeze is a       around the state and that the operators, who
vote was taken. The Senate bill awaits further      valid option for all of us to consider.”              are essential to the state patrol, receive nearly
committee action.                                      A Senate companion was sponsored by Sen.           650,000 emergency calls a month.
   HF1437/SF1373                                    Thomas Neuville (R-Northfield).                          During the October 2001 state employees
                                                       With Minnesota employers reducing pay-             strike, public safety radio communications
                                                    rolls via layoffs, wage freezes, and wage con-        operators were forced to join in or cross the
                                                    cessions, Gerlach said, “We can look at freezing      picket line.

        EMPLOYMENT                                  wages, trying to hold the line and weather the           Beers said the department called sheriffs
                                                    economic storm we’re in, or devastate the             and chiefs to have the 911 calls transferred to
                     Job references                 ranks of the public employees and hand out            their stations, but they refused, meaning
  A bill that stalled in the Senate would make it   the pink slips.”                                      troopers and supervisors had to quickly fill in.
easier for employers to relay certain information      The bill would have also prevented public          In addition, troopers were going to take the
about current and former employees to other         employees from striking due to an employer’s          department to court because they were taken
prospective employers without the fear of law-      refusal to increase salaries, and arbitrators         off the road to perform dispatch functions,
suits. The bill passed the House in 2003 and        would have been prohibited from issuing an            which was a violation of their contract. Beers

                                                                         L AW S
                                                                                                                                                 Bills in Limbo


explained that because of the “high learning                                                             to check into parents’ health insurance cover-
curve” in dispatch language and code words,         ★
                                                         FAMILY                                          age in order to discern which parent’s insur-
it would have been hard to use other resources,                                                          ance should cover a child.
such as the National Guard, to fill the roles.             Child support changes stall                      The bill would also set forth criteria a court
   She also said that a poll of dispatchers done       A major overhaul of Minnesota’s child sup-        must consider before it grants or denies a cus-
in 2002 showed 56 out of 66 operators favored       port system gained House approval in 2003,           todial parent’s request to move out of state.
the classification change to essential.             but was tabled in the Senate prior to adjourn-       Those criteria would include a child’s relation-
   Representatives from the unions that rep-        ment for the year. It will still be alive in 2004.   ship to family in either state, the impact on the
resent state employees – the American Federa-          The bill would significantly change the way       child’s development and quality of life, their
tion of State, County, and Municipal                courts calculate child support payments, re-         ability to maintain a relationship with the non-
Employees and the Minnesota Association of          order dozens of sections of family law, and          custodial parent, any history of trying to
Professional Employees – said they oppose any       provide for officially recognizing Hmong and         thwart development of that relationship, and
expansion of essential employees.                   Buddhist weddings.                                   any history of domestic abuse.
   Sen. Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar) was the             Sponsored by Rep. Steve Smith (R-Mound),             Moving out of state after a request to do so
Senate sponsor.                                     the so-called “income shares” model at the           has been denied could be grounds for chang-
   The bill was included as part of the House       bill’s heart would take both parents’ incomes        ing custody, under the bill.
omnibus transportation finance bill but the         into account when calculating how much                  In addition, the bill would put the current
provision was removed in conference commit-         money a non-custodial parent pays for child          family law statutes in Chapter 518 in a more
tee. It did not pass the full Senate in any form.   support. The amount would be based on an             logical order, making them easier to find and
   HF769/SF1045                                     individual parent’s share of both parents’ com-      read. It would clarify ambiguous and conflict-
                                                    bined gross income rather than on a percent-         ing language in those sections.
                                                    age of a non-custodial parent’s net income, as          Finally, the bill provides a process for sol-
                                                    in current law.                                      emnizing traditional Hmong wedding cer-
     Limiting contract negotiations                    To determine exact support amounts un-            emonies by vesting power in the mej koob —
   A bill that would change the way unions          der the proposal, judges would use a child sup-      two or more people designated as go-betweens
negotiate salary and benefits for public em-        port schedule derived from a U.S. Department         for the two families. The mej koob would be
ployees is still alive for the 2004 session,        of Agriculture annual report listing the aver-       responsible for signing and submitting the
though it failed to pass into law in 2003.          age cost of raising children for parents of vari-    marriage certificate.
   Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark           ous incomes in the urban Midwest.                       The bill also adds Hmong and Buddhist to
Buesgens (R-Jordan) and Sen. David Hann                The amount of child support under the             the list of religious and ethnic groups — in-
(R-Eden Prairie), unions would be given a           schedule is then reduced by 20 percent in rec-       cluding Baha’i, Hindu, Muslims, Quakers, and
maximum monetary value to work from to              ognition of the higher cost of maintaining two       Native Americans — which may solemnize
negotiate salary and benefits for public            separate households.                                 marriages through traditional practices.
employees.                                             Another policy in the bill would change sup-         Sen. Thomas Neuville (R-Northfield)
   Defined as structural balance, the process       port amounts if a parent’s income changes due        sponsors the Senate companion.
would require that the cost of contracts not        to active military service.                             HF778/SF758
exceed available funds and that the amount             The bill would also provide for different
or quality of service not be diminished to          support formulas for low-income parents,
achieve structural balance. With large bud-         parents with joint custody, and families with                  Surrogate pregnancies
get cuts looming, Buesgens told a House com-        more than six children. Parents could also              A bill that would regulate the practice of
mittee that he’d heard from a number of             agree on a different division of child support       surrogate pregnancies must wait until 2004.
constituents and colleagues with the state-         costs with a judge’s approval.                          Sponsored by Rep. Kathy Tingelstad
ment, “Why do you need to freeze our sala-             In addition, parents could more easily re-        (R-Andover) and Sen. Linda Higgins (DFL-
ries, why don’t you just give us the money?”        quest a hearing six months after the initial         Mpls), the bill would have created a legal
   Among opponents was Brian Bergson, rep-          court ruling to establish if parents are com-        framework for infertile parents to enter into a
resenting the Minnesota Association of Pro-         plying with support, custody, and visitation         judicially approved agreement with a poten-
fessional Employees. Along with gutting the         orders.                                              tial surrogate mother. Under the practice an
Public Employment Labor Relations Act,                 There would also be more options to en-           embryo from the intended parents is im-
which defines ways unions can negotiate             sure those orders are followed.                      planted into a surrogate mother. At birth, the
through collective bargaining, Bergson said,           For example, the state would have to collect      intended parents take full legal responsibility
the bill tips the scale in favor of management.     social security numbers from people apply-           for the child.
   The House bill was referred from the Gov-        ing for driver’s licenses and hunting and fish-         Though the practice already takes place na-
ernmental Operations and Veterans Affairs           ing licenses in order to comply with federal         tionwide, the bill would place guidelines into
Policy Committee to the Rules and Legislative       child support enforcement laws, though the           law for intended parents and surrogates and
Administration Committee without recom-             numbers would not be included on the li-             would require a set of legal agreements clari-
mendation. The Senate version awaits action         censes themselves. It would also be easier to        fying all parties’ rights and responsibilities in
in the original committee.                          suspend driver’s licenses or occupational li-        the arrangement. Tingelstad said the bill
   HF1380/SF1471                                    censes if someone is not complying with sup-         would be a model for other states because it
                                                    port orders. Authorities would also be allowed       incorporates so many different elements of the

Bills in Limbo
                                                                         L AW S

surrogacy process, from requiring psychologi-       where they are located.                              benefits to the state would be a 20 percent tax
cal assessments of all participants, to limiting       Under the proposal, track owners would            on gross revenue (wagering minus prize
the amount of money intended parents may            have footed the approximate $90 million for          money), 90 percent of which would go to the
pay a potential surrogate.                          construction costs. Plans called for a               general fund.
   Under the bill, all participants would have      100,000-square foot horse racing-themed slot            Haas said the casino would create more
to be at least 21 years old, the intended mother    and gaming room, an Olympic-scale eques-             than 4,000 jobs, many of those filled by tribal
must prove she is unable to bare healthy chil-      trian center, an agricultural event facility, a      members.
dren herself, and at least one intended parent      250-room hotel and conference facility that             Doyle Turner, chair of the White Earth Res-
must be biologically related to the resulting       would overlook the racetrack, and restaurants.       ervation, has said there are desolate, poverty-
child. The intended parents would also be re-          In the first four years of operation, the state   like conditions on the lands of the two tribes
quired to accept any resulting child, regard-       would receive an average of 40 percent of gross      with 300 families without housing. The casino
less of the child’s health or physical condition.   operating revenues, and the facility netting         was a creative solution to the problems, he
   Opponents of the bill, including the Min-        45 percent. The state lottery would have grossed     said.
nesota Catholic Conference, said it would turn      15 percent, and a portion would be directed to          Opponents included the Mille Lacs Band of
embryos into commodities to be bought and           horse racing purses, a breeders fund, and to lo-     Ojibwe, who run Grand Casino Mille Lacs and
sold.                                               cal governments. In 2004-05 the state would have     Grand Casino Hinckley. Tribal representatives
   Neither the House nor the Senate bill re-        received 55.5 percent on adjusted gross gaming       claim that the majority of their clientele visit
ceived a committee’s approval in 2003.              revenue, which was expected to equate to $100        from the Twin Cities and that this bill would
   HF792/SF813                                      million.                                             allow different tribes to operate a state-run
                                                       Randy Sampson, president and general              casino. Also, they expressed concern that a
                                                    manager of Canterbury Park Holding Corp.,            metropolitan area gaming facility would lure
        GAMBLING                                    said the percent allocated to the state would        employees from outlying gaming facilities.
                                                    be more than existing track operations pro-             Haas said all tribes in Minnesota have been
             Don’t bet on a racino…yet              vide. In fiscal year 2002, the state received        offered written chances to become involved in
   A bill that would have allowed slot machines     $241,000 in pari-mutuel taxes, according to          the casino.
at Canterbury Park in Shakopee wasn’t in the        the Minnesota Racing Commission.                        The bill failed to gain approval from the
cards for the horse racing facility during the         Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan), the House          House Governmental Operations and Veter-
2003 session.                                       sponsor, said that in addition to the state ben-     ans Affairs Policy Committee, and Haas later
   While the measure was approved in the            efiting, the bill would have created 1,400 new       unsuccessfully attempted to amend the bill to
House, and for a time was part of the House         jobs.                                                the House omnibus state government finance
budget-balancing solution, the bill never made         As of November 2002 six other states had          bill, during a conference committee, and on
it out of Senate committees.                        racinos: Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, New              the House floor.
   The Minnesota State Lottery would have           Mexico, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. In             The Senate version, sponsored by Sen.
operated the gaming machines, but the casino        addition 14 states are considering racino leg-       Sandra Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), awaits commit-
would have been owned and operated by Can-          islation, Sampson said.                              tee action.
terbury Park.                                          Sen. Dick Day (R-Owatonna) is the Senate             HF1020/SF966
   The plan took a slightly different turn when     sponsor.
an amendment was successfully offered dur-             HF646/SF576
ing House floor debate by Rep. Mark Olson                                                                               Sports boards
(R-Big Lake) that would have ended the so-                                                                  A bill that would have added sports boards
called racino plan if American Indian tribes                   Another tribal casino                     to the list of lawful charitable gambling was
who operate casinos in the state were to do            Persistence did not pay off in 2003 for a ca-     included in one omnibus bill, but failed to
four things by July 1, 2003:                        sino bill that would establish a partnership         become law in 2003.
• voluntarily contribute funds to the Depart-       between the state and one or more American              The bill defines a sports board as a game in
   ment of Human Services for compulsive            Indian tribal governments. House sponsor             which a participant buys a square, line, or
   gambling treatment programs equal to the         Rep. Bill Haas (R-Champlin) attempted to             other chance on a board with the winner de-
   amount contributed by the state lottery,         move the bill forward in different committees        termined by the outcome of a professional
• not increase the number of video gaming           and with different amendments four times.            sporting event. Under the proposal, the maxi-
   machines,                                           The bill would permit the Minnesota State         mum prize for a single board would have been
• submit information annually to the state          Lottery to manage gaming machines at a facility      $500. A board would be limited to 25 lines and
   auditor on gross receipts from tribal gam-       in the Twin Cities metropolitan area operated        100 squares, and the maximum price per
   ing and the distribution of those gaming         by one or more American Indian tribal govern-        chance would be $10.
   receipts, and agree to have the information      ments. A card club would also be permitted.             However, Tom Barrett, executive director of
   audited by the state auditor, and                   Under the proposal, 60 percent of the ca-         the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, said
• contribute 6 percent of gross receipts from       sino proceeds would have gone to the Red Lake        the bill could violate federal law that prohib-
   casino gambling annually to the state.           Nation of Chippewa and the White Earth Band          its states from operating or legalizing new
   Among concerns of tribal officials was that      of Chippewa, groups that currently do not re-        sports betting systems.
money lost would hurt members of tribal com-        ceive gaming revenue that other tribes receive          “The worst case scenario is that the federal
munities and residents in rural communities         from their own gaming facilities. Among the          government says it’s illegal and we stop,” said

                                                                          L AW S
                                                                                                                                                   Bills in Limbo


Rep. Jim Rhodes (R-St. Louis Park), who spon-                       Don’t bet on it                       practice may contribute to problem gambling.
sored the bill with Sen. Jim Vickerman (DFL-           Though Minnesotans may be betting on               Studies show that about 2 percent of compul-
Tracy).                                             sporting events, they still cannot do it legally      sive gamblers choose sports wagering as their
  Charities are “100 percent behind it” said        in the state. A bill that would have legalized        preferred form.
King Wilson, executive director of Minnesota        the practice did not pass in 2003, but remains           Other highlights of the bill included the cre-
Allied Charities. He said sports boards could       alive in 2004.                                        ation of a Minnesota active recreation fund to
“raise a lot of money for charity and the state.”      Sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-               be used for children’s sports programs, amateur
  The Senate version awaits initial committee       Mpls), the bill would allow such gaming to be         sports facilities, and hiking and biking trails. A
action. The House version, which was ap-            conducted through the Minnesota State Lot-            portion of the proceeds from the sports games
proved by one committee and awaits action           tery. Kahn said the bill would authorize real         would be deposited into the account.
by a second, was included in the omnibus state      sports wagering for the state, with a portion            The legislation failed to gain approval from
government finance bill, but did not make it        of the proceeds going into the state’s general        the House Governmental Operations and Vet-
through the conference committee.                   fund, although she said it would be hard to           erans Affairs Policy Committee, the lone com-
  HF619/SF604                                       predict the amount.                                   mittee to hear the bill.
                                                       Under the bill, the state would collect taxes         HF830/SFnone
                                                    ranging from 3 percent to 6.25 percent of gross
   Authorizing sports fantasy games                 revenues of sports bookmakers, based on the
   An establishment that sells alcoholic bever-     volume of gross receipts.
ages is still prohibited from conducting fan-          Kahn explained that Minnesotans spend an
tasy sports leagues, because a bill allowing the    estimated $2 billion annually on sports gam-
                                                                                                               GAME & FISH
measure failed to become law in 2003.               ing, either through traditional means or
   Rep. Doug Stang (R-Cold Spring), the House       online.                                                    Designating fair game and fish
sponsor, acknowledged that many people, in-            The bill would keep dollars in Minnesota              An omnibus game and fish bill that would
cluding himself, already participate in the         because gaming would be allowed at any fa-            get duck hunters out of bed earlier on open-
leagues. Currently “you can practice legally out-   cility that offers state lottery games, Kahn          ing day, allow certain hunting techniques, and
side bars, this brings it inside bars,” he said.    added.                                                target species that have been outlawed for sev-
   The bill does not authorize sports book-            George Anderson, director of the Minnesota         eral decades failed to be considered on the
making or wagering on the outcome of an in-         State Lottery, said several states, such as Oregon,   House or Senate floors.
dividual sporting event.                            have legalized sports gaming. It’s also common           The bill would allow shooting hours for
   No league revenue would go to an estab-          elsewhere in the world.                               migratory game birds, except woodcock, to
lishment that holds a league, but legalizing the       Members were also concerned that the               begin at 9 a.m. on the opening day of the duck
location would allow for more revenue when
customers purchase drinks and food, said
Stang. The bill designates that bar owners can-
not handle the exchange of funds, but by host-
ing an event, the bar could promote and
market the leagues.
   Other restrictions in the bill are:
• total payout to all members must be equal to
   the total paid in by all members;
• no individual can receive more than a $250
   payout; and
• the establishment must have no interest in
   the outcome and cannot participate
   The legislation would help charitable gam-
bling, said Rep. Sondra Erickson
   Currently, some locations have sports bet-
ting, but because the practice isn’t legal, the
charities could lose their licenses by partici-
pating. Erickson explained with declining en-
rollments in organizations like the Lions Club,
this is an opportunity for marketing the asso-
ciations and bringing in more memberships.
   The bill awaits a floor vote in the House.
   A Senate version, sponsored by Sen.
Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville), awaits                                                                                           PHOTO BY ANDREW VONBANK
committee action.                                   A bill that would have legalized sports bookmaking in Minnesota will have to wait until at least 2004.

Bills in Limbo
                                                                           L AW S

                                                                                                             before sunrise.
                                                                                                                In addition, violations of the 65 mph speed
                                                                                                             limit that are within 10 miles per hour above
                                                                                                             would not have been entered on a motorists
                                                                                                             driving record, under the original bill. That
                                                                                                             exception is currently allowed for the state’s
                                                                                                             55 mph speed limits and an amendment re-
                                                                                                             moved the exemption from the bill during
                                                                                                             committee debate.
                                                                                                                According to information Seifert provided
                                                                                                             from the Insurance Institute for Highway
                                                                                                             Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute,
                                                                                                             only North Dakota and Montana have differ-
                                                                                                             ent day and night speed limits on the same
                                                                                                             types of highways as those covered in the bill.
                                                                                                             In addition, 19 states have speed limits on the
                                                                                                             roads of higher than 55 mph.
                                                                                                                The House version stalled in the House
                                                                                    PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
                                                                                                             Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate
A plan to decrease the legal length of walleyes and northern pike were part of an omnibus game and fish
bill that failed to become law in 2003. The bill also called for three-year revocation of game and fish
                                                                                                             bill did not receive committee approval.
licensing privileges for those failing to pay fines or appear in court for game and fish violations.            HF1071/SF1248

season. Under the bill, the Department of            unarmed adults. Minnesota residents under the
Natural Resources (DNR) must submit to the           age of 18 would be authorized to take up to 25
Legislature by Jan. 15, 2006, a report on the        turtles for nonprofit turtle racing, as long as the
harvest success rate and the effect on the state’s   turtles are returned to their natural habitat after
waterfowl population from this change.               the race. And the bill clarifies that $5.50 youth                 Data collection stalled
   In response to what the DNR said was con-         deer licenses without tags are available for ar-           A bill that would take away the ability of the
stituent input and a desire to “increase the         chery, as well as firearm hunting.                      Minnesota Department of Health to collect
awareness of larger fish,” another provision of         The legislation also attempts to get tougher         certain types of patient medical information
the bill would decrease the legal lengths of         on scofflaws who fail to appear in court or pay         received committee approval, but stalled be-
walleye from 24 inches to 20 inches and north-       court-ordered fines for game and fish viola-            fore the full House voted upon it. It remains
ern pike from 30 inches to 24 inches.                tions. Under the bill, those transgressions             alive for 2004, though the department has not
   These restrictions would not apply to             could result in the three-year revocation of            continued to pursue the issue further by ad-
boundary waters, and Lake of the Woods has           game and fish license privileges.                       ministrative means.
separate rules. Additionally, spearfishing is           Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) and Sen. Tom                  The bill would initially have repealed the
excluded from the new lengths.                       Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids) sponsored the                provisions of current law that give the com-
   Language in the bill would allow bear hunt-       bills, which were returned to the environment           missioner of health broad authority to collect
ers to use hounds, if the DNR decides to au-         and natural resources committees in each                medical information from hospitals and in-
thorize such a season. The technique was not         body when members adjourned for 2003.                   surance companies, but those provisions were
prohibited in the state until bears were pro-           HF789/SF887                                          amended out during committee discussion.
tected in the 1970s, according to Ed Boggess,                                                                Privacy advocates have criticized a set of rules
DNR Wildlife Division assistant director, but                                                                proposed by the department based on those
a growing bear population has the potential
                                                          GREATER MINNESOTA                                  statutes because they would create a statewide
to cause a lot of trouble for people.                                                                        database of information including some data
   The bill would add mourning doves to the                 Increasing rural speed limits                    that could personally identify unique patients
statutory list of game birds and authorize a           A bill that received the approval of House            — including their name, address, and race and
mourning dove hunting season, which has              committees but did not ultimately pass both             ethnicity.
been prohibited in the state since 1947. The         the House and Senate would increase the day-               Supporters of the data collection said a
bill also would require the DNR to report to         time speed limit on paved highways outside              more uniform and independent process is
the Legislature by Aug. 1, 2004, on the effects      urban districts that are not freeways or ex-            needed, as long as it takes steps to protect pa-
of a hunting season on the mourning dove             pressways to 65 miles per hour. The bill is             tient privacy.
population in the state.                             sponsored by Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall)               Rep. Bill Haas (R-Champlin) and Sen.
   There are several provisions aimed at young       and Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm).                Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) are the
hunters.                                               Nighttime speed limits would remain at                sponsors.
   The bill would allow turkey hunters under the     55 mph. Existing law defines “nighttime” as                HF297/SF795
age of 16 to be accompanied by unlicensed,           one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour

                                                                         L AW S
                                                                                                                                                 Bills in Limbo


    Limiting family planning grants                 Local 120, is that state employees are paid less      “The current state aid program is focused
   A bill that would limit use of state family      than their counterparts in the private sector,      on the needs of students, not the sectors,” said
planning grants to groups unaffiliated with         and good health care coverage is partly why         HESO Director Robert Poch referring to the
abortion services gained House committee            employees continue to work for the state.           public systems and private institutions. “This
approval during 2003, but stalled awaiting             The bill was not approved by a committee         goes the other way.” In addition, Poch said his
action by the full House.                           in either body, though it was forwarded with-       office advocates for the needs of all students
   Sponsored by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg               out recommendation by the House Govern-             and that some of that would be lost with the
(R-Lakeville) and Sen. Thomas Neuville              mental Operations and Veterans Affairs Policy       proposed legislation.
(R-Northfield), the bill would prohibit state       Committee.                                            A Senate companion bill, sponsored by Sen.
family planning funds from going to organi-            HF1099/SF1047                                    David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), awaits
zations that provide abortions or consider                                                              committee action.
abortions part of a continuum of family plan-                                                             HF1422/SF1453
ning services. Under the bill, grant recipients
could not refer patients to abortion provid-
                                                         HIGHER EDUCATION
ers, display information about the legality or
accessibility of abortion services, or mention            Allocating state grant dollars                   Opt in plan for student fees stalls
abortion as an option to pregnant women.               A plan to alter the way state financial aid         A plan that would change the way student
Organizations could also not be affiliated with     grants are distributed to students failed to be-    fees are charged was in the House omnibus
any group that provides abortions.                  come part of the 2003 omnibus higher educa-         higher education bill, but was removed by a
   The bill would require groups applying for       tion law. But it may be reconsidered in 2004.       conference committee that reached agreement
grant money to submit independent audits               Instead of students receiving grant awards       on an omnibus higher education funding law.
certifying their compliance with the bill’s         from the Higher Education Services Office              The bill, as introduced in the House, would
requirements.                                       (HESO), the grants would be distributed by          require that the university’s Board of Regents and
   The family planning grants at issue are part     the institution they attend, under a bill spon-     the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
of maternal and child health block grants the       sored by Rep. Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal).         (MnSCU) Board of Trustees receive legislative
state gives for distribution by counties and           Under the bill, direct appropriations would      approval for all mandatory fees to be paid by stu-
grants to eliminate health disparities.             be provided to the University of Minnesota,         dents. The boards now have the final say.
   The Senate version did not receive commit-       Minnesota State Colleges and Universities              Under the bill, students would then have to
tee approval in 2003.                               (MnSCU), and the Minnesota Private Colleges         opt-in to pay any fee not deemed mandatory.
   HF436/SF431                                      Council to distribute state grant awards to stu-    “This puts students in the driver’s seat for what
                                                    dents attending colleges that belong to the         their money is used for,” said Rep. Tim Wilkin
                                                    council. In addition, the services office would     (R-Eagan), the House sponsor.
                                                    also receive money to distribute for private           Wilkin said the issue was brought to his at-
         Health, dental coverage                    colleges that are not part of the private col-      tention by parental concern about the increase
   The 2003 Legislature did not mandate that        leges council.                                      in fees and a constituent’s concern about the
state workers, legislators, and constitutional         Currently, the Higher Education Services         appropriateness of uses of some fees.
officers pay more for health and dental insur-      Office awards all state grant money. Gov. Tim          He used a Sex Workers Art Show as an ex-
ance. As a result, contributions for health and     Pawlenty’s budget shifts money to the services      ample. Presented at the University of Minne-
dental insurance will continue to be deter-         office to expand the state grant program, while     sota, the show was designed to contradict the
mined by state employee collective bargain-         reducing funding to the public institutions.        stereotypes that surround work in the sex in-
ing agreements or compensation plans.                  Carlson told the House Higher Education          dustry. It was sponsored by the university’s
   Currently, the state pays for 100 percent of     Finance Committee that, under his proposal,         Women’s Student Activist Collective.
state employees’ health and dental insurance        the institutions would be authorized to de-            Committee testifiers said that students reg-
premiums, if they do not carry a spouse or          velop their own guidelines for distributing         istered for six or more credits on the
dependent on their plan, though copayments          need-based assistance for tuition, work-study,      university’s Twin Cities campus pay $280-per-
are required for some services. The bill would      and child-care aid.                                 semester in student service fees with money
have changed that contribution to 80 percent           “This builds in more flexibility to meet the     going to 28 organizations, ranging from
for medical insurance and 50 percent for den-       needs of students,” he said. “It’s tough to tai-    16 cents for the Students for Family Values to
tal premiums.                                       lor a system to where one size fits all.”           more than $90 for the Boynton Health Ser-
   Rep. Paul Kohls (R-Victoria), who spon-             During the session, Carlson asked Univer-        vices. These fees are in addition to tuition,
sored the bill with Sen. Sheila Kiscaden            sity President Robert Bruininks and MnSCU           course fees, and a university fee, which helps
(IP-Rochester), said the state needs to cut costs   Chancellor James McCormick if their systems         cover infrastructure and administrative sup-
and that the proposal was one way to address        would be able to handle their own financial         port costs, as well as costs for services.
the projected budget deficit. He argued that        aid distribution. Both responded affirmatively.        Officials from both university systems spoke
very few private employers pay for 100 per-            Carlson said that the institutions and sys-      against the bill, saying the current fee system
cent coverage, and the money saved would            tems would need to come before the Legisla-         works well, the proposal amounts to
equate to 3,000 state jobs.                         ture to request state grant dollars, like they do   micromanaging, and that ultimately the fees
   One argument against the proposal made           for state funding and bonding dollars.              could just be rolled into tuition.
by Robert Johnson, representing Teamsters

Bills in Limbo
                                                                         L AW S

   Rep. Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal) voiced           Sen. Sandra Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) is the          Committee Chair Rep. Doug Stang (R-Cold
concern that the bill would make the Legisla-       sponsor in the Senate, where the bill awaits        Spring) was offered, but failed to be included
ture the ruling body for the institutions.          committee action.                                   in the omnibus higher education law.
   A companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike           HF188/SF144                                          His plan calls for the elimination of state
McGinn (R-Eagan), awaits committee action.                                                              grants for students attending classes in sum-
The omnibus higher education finance bill                                                               mer terms. The program began in 1995, but
required MnSCU to assess optional student                                                               funding was not authorized until 1997.
fees on an opt-in basis and requested the Uni-                 State grant eligibility                     Stang said his proposal was possibly one
versity of Minnesota to do the same. The om-           A bill that would have excluded students         way to address the higher education funding
nibus bill did not have a requirement for           attending private, for-profit institutions from     shortfall and as a way to help partially offset
legislative approval of fees.                       participating in the state grant program was        the impact of higher tuition rates on state ap-
   HF742/SF1257                                     not included in the 2003 higher education           propriations. He said the grants would be
                                                    omnibus law.                                        more focused on students during a traditional
                                                       Sponsored in the House by Rep. Marty             school year, meaning amounts could be higher
                                                    Seifert (R-Marshall), the bill would affect         for those students.
                 Studying abroad                    schools such as Aveda Institute, Duluth Busi-          A number of student groups spoke against
   A plan that would require prospective for-       ness University, Dunwoody Institute in Min-         the plan. Among their concerns were that the
eign language teachers to spend time outside        neapolis, National American University at the       plan would prevent some students from at-
the United States was not included in the           Mall of America, and Rasmussen College in           tending classes and it could take longer for
higher education omnibus law.                       Eagan, Mankato, Minnetonka, and St. Cloud.          students to graduate.
   Sponsored in the House by Rep. Mike Jaros           According to the Minnesota Career College           There was no action in the Senate on the
(DFL-Duluth), the bill would require students       Association, approximately 15 percent of stu-       proposal.
at a Minnesota State Colleges and Universi-         dents receiving a state grant attend a private,        HF1242/SFnone
ties (MnSCU) institution who are preparing          for-profit college. They receive about 18 per-
to teach a foreign language in the K-12 sys-        cent of state grant dollars awarded.
tem to study abroad for one year. It would re-         Any post-secondary educational institution
                                                    is currently eligible to participate in the state         No voluntarism requirement
quest that the University of Minnesota also
                                                    grant program if it is determined by the Higher        Students will not be required to help others
adopt the policy.
                                                    Education Services Office, which administers        in order to receive a state grant.
   According to Jaros, most teachers learn what
                                                    the program, that the institution “maintains           A plan proffered in the House by Rep. Marty
they know about countries whose language
                                                    academic standards substantially equivalent         Seifert (R-Marshall) that would have required
they are teaching in the classroom. He said they
                                                    to those of comparable institutions operated        students receiving more than $2,000 per se-
should visit the country to study its history
                                                    in this state.”                                     mester in state grants to perform at least five
and be subjected to its culture. Jaros said with-
                                                       Seifert told the House Higher Education          hours of volunteer service during that period
out a hands-on experience in a country where
                                                    Committee that the members need to decide           was not part of the 2003 omnibus higher edu-
the language is spoken would be akin to hav-
                                                    philosophically whether tax dollars should be       cation law. However, it remains alive for con-
ing surgery performed by a surgeon who only
                                                    put into for-profit institutions and how to         sideration in 2004.
learned from a textbook.
                                                    measure the value the state gets back for dol-         “Minnesota is one of the most generous
   He said students majoring in a foreign lan-
                                                    lars put in.                                        states in what we give without getting anything
guage generally spend their first two years on
                                                       Some members expressed concern about             from the student,” Seifert said. “There needs
grammar, year three is more about conversa-
                                                    hurting students that are getting trained at the    to be some personal responsibility for the high
tion and culture, and year four deals with
                                                    schools. Representatives from colleges that would   grant amounts.”
more literature and linguistics. “So the junior
                                                    be affected said many of them serve lower in-          Under the bill, if a student did not fulfill the
year would be the best to go and a student can
                                                    come Minnesotans. “Our students need to be          volunteer requirement the grant would be
be totally immersed in the language,” Jaros
                                                    given the same choices and funding opportuni-       capped at $2,000. Students with disabilities
said. He said the requirement would be waived
                                                    ties as other students,” said Jeanne Hermann,       would be exempt from the requirement.
for someone for whom the foreign language
                                                    director of Globe College. “Eliminating that           Students would be required to volunteer at
is their native tongue, and they have shown
                                                    choice will hurt all Minnesotans.”                  a nonprofit or community organization, and
                                                       Sen. Sharon Marko (DFL-Cottage Grove)            would need to provide proof the requirement
   Leslie Mercer, MnSCU associate vice-
                                                    sponsored the measure in the Senate, where it       had been meet. The institution would then be
chancellor for research, told the House Higher
                                                    awaits committee action.                            responsible for notifying the Higher Educa-
Education Finance Committee that she is sup-
                                                       HF862/SF529                                      tion Services Office, which administers the
portive of the general intent, but is against the
                                                                                                        grant program.
bill because it may be a burden financially to
                                                                                                           “We’re open to seeing how this works and
some students, could affect some students’
                                                                                                        getting feedback from the students,” said Frank
track to graduation by being gone for a year,             No grants for summer classes                  Viggiano, executive director of the Minnesota
and for some students family matters would            As the House Higher Education Finance             State University Student Association.
be an issue. She added that many students al-       Committee looked at ways to make changes               Rep. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) agrees
ready study abroad for one semester or dur-         to the state grant program, an idea from            with the personal responsibility issue, but was
ing the summer.

                                                                         L AW S
                                                                                                                                                  Bills in Limbo


concerned about balance. She said that if too
little voluntarism is required it puts a burden
on the institution, but too much could impede
student progress on their studies.
   Some concern was raised that the proposal
would disproportionately affect private college
   According to the nonpartisan House Re-
search Department, 4,931 students attending
four-year private institutions, and 589 attend-
ing two-year private schools received the tar-
get amount in the 2002-03 school year. By
comparison, 1,396 public school students sur-
passed the $2,000 per semester mark. Overall,
more than 71,000 students received state
   Sen. Sharon Marko (DFL-Cottage Grove)
sponsored the bill in the Senate, where it awaits
committee action.

                                                                                                                                     PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID

                                                    A bill that would notify policyholders that their homeowners insurance is being cancelled because a
                                                    mortgage company did not pay the premium out of an escrow account remains alive for the 2004 session.

                                                    insurance companies that are concerned about        Kohls (R-Victoria), the prohibition can result
        Ensuring coverage exists                    increased premium costs. “However, I really do      in unfair awards because a person’s injuries
   A bill that would forbid an insurance com-       think that you would want to know if your           may be enhanced due to their own failure to
pany from canceling homeowner’s insurance           homeowner’s insurance had not been paid             wear a seat belt. Juries should have all the rel-
for nonpayment of premium, if the premium           through your escrow account, and this is one way    evant information and be able to assign some
is to be paid directly out of a mortgage escrow     to attempt to make sure that that happens.”         percentage of blame to the victim of the acci-
account, is on hold.                                   Representatives from the Insurance Federa-       dent if they see fit to do so, he said.
   Under the bill, the insurance company            tion of Minnesota and the Minnesota Asso-              While most drivers and front seat passengers
would be required to notify policyholders by        ciation of Farm Mutual Insurance Companies          are required to wear seatbelts in Minnesota, law
certified return receipt mail prior to cancella-    testified against the bill.                         enforcement officers cannot stop drivers merely
tion due to non-payment from a mortgage                Sen. Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park) is         for failing to wear seat belts. Most back seat pas-
escrow server.                                      the Senate sponsor.                                 sengers and drivers in specific instances are ex-
   Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn                   No vote was taken during the initial House       cluded from the requirement.
Center), the House sponsor, said the measure        hearing, so the bill awaits committee action in        Opponents said repealing the law would
was brought by a constituent who had his            both bodies and may be reconsidered in 2004.        give defense lawyers a way to pass the blame
homeowner’s insurance cancelled due to non-            HF180/SF157                                      from bad drivers to good ones and result in a
payment by a mortgage company and found                                                                 windfall to insurance companies. Mike Bryant,
out that he had no coverage after a fire de-                                                            a Minneapolis attorney, said a legislative com-
stroyed his home.                                                                                       mission explored the proposal in the 1990s
   The mortgage company’s bank ultimately
                                                         LAW                                            and decided against repealing the law. He said
                                                                                                        the change would require someone to assume
found his cancelled check, which showed the
consumer had paid the bill, and showed it to               Seatbelt ‘gag’ rule remains                  they are going to be in an accident, and pun-
the insurance company, as proof that the              A 40-year-old law prohibiting evidence            ish them if they don’t.
policy may have been cancelled in error.            about seatbelt use in personal injury cases            Sen. Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley) sponsored
   While some representatives were in favor of      would be repealed under a bill approved by          the Senate version, which did not receive com-
the bill, many had questions about its language     House and Senate committees in 2003. How-           mittee approval.
and details. Others, however, expressed out-        ever, the measure must wait until 2004 for fur-        HF513/SF467
right opposition.                                   ther action.
   Rep. Tim Wilkin (R-Eagan), a former insur-         Civil cases involving injury or property
ance writer, said current law already mandates      damage due to a car accident currently can-
notification, a detail confirmed by a nonpar-       not include evidence of whether the injured
tisan House researcher.                             person was wearing a seatbelt at the time of
   “We’re just adding expense,” Wilkin said.        the accident.
   Hilstrom said she is willing to work with          According to the House sponsor, Rep. Paul

Bills in Limbo
                                                                        L AW S

                                                   resolution, following a public hearing, to opt
        LOCAL GOVERNMENT                           out of any state mandate, save for those per-        ★
                                                   taining to election law, property tax laws, and
             Abolishing rail authorities           accounting and financial management proce-                  Shooting ranges under fire
   When regional rail authorities were created     dures and audit requirements.                           A measure that would prohibit local gov-
by the Legislature in 1980, they were originally      The bill defines a mandate as any state law       ernments and neighbors from limiting the
designed to allow Greater Minnesota counties       or rule related to local government structure,       operation of shooting ranges was approved by
the option of preserving and possibly expand-      operation, services, programs, or financing          three House committees but failed to receive
ing existing freight and rail services.            that:                                                a vote on the House floor.
   Seven years later, the law was expanded to      • imposes a cost on a local government even if          The bill would direct the Department of
allow regional rail authorities to study, plan,       it authorizes imposition of a tax or fee to       Natural Resources to develop generally ac-
and design light-rail systems.                        cover that cost;                                  cepted operation practices for shooting ranges
   Since that time, a number of rail authori-      • decreases revenue without a commensurate           and protect those ranges who comply with the
ties have developed rail plans and advocated          decrease in services required by law;             guidelines from nuisance lawsuits. The mea-
for the expansion of rail transit in the state.    • establishes mandated goals or practices;           sure also would require local governments to
   A bill, included in the House transportation    • imposes criminal or civil liability on the local   pay for noise buffering when development
finance plan, would abolish regional rail au-         government or its officers or employees for       approaches within one mile of an established
thorities in the seven-county Twin Cities met-        failure to follow or enforce the law or rule;     shooting range.
ropolitan area. The provision was removed          • restricts the ability to establish or finance         Local governments would have to pay for
from the final transportation finance law but         services, programs, or plans; or                  range safety improvements or relocation if the
remains alive for 2004. It did not receive com-    • implements or interprets federal law, and          range becomes a safety hazard due to en-
mittee approval in the Senate in 2003.                thereby changes service levels beyond those       croaching development, under the bill.
   Regional rail authorities were created as          required by federal law.                             “We are telling local governments, ‘Please
special units of local government, with the           To opt out, under the bill, a local govern-       don’t encroach on shooting ranges because
powers to levy local property taxes. The idea      ment must do so by a resolution that cites the       they are a valuable asset to the state of Min-
was to address situations in which, for ex-        state law or rule that imposes the mandate,          nesota,’” said House sponsor Rep. Tom
ample, a small town grain elevator would be        identifies costs of complying with the man-          Hackbarth (R-Cedar).
left without railroad service.                     date and federal and state funds available for          Other proponents said shooting ranges are
   Though all 87 counties in the state are al-     purposes of the mandate, states why the local        one of the largest industries in the state and
lowed to create regional railroad authorities,     government wants to opt out, and indicates           make significant contributions to the
few Greater Minnesota counties have done so.       how the local government will otherwise meet         economy. The ranges are under pressure from
Conversely, all seven metropolitan counties        the objectives of the mandate or why the man-        development and a growing population, they
have regional rail authorities.                    date does not apply to the local government.         said, and local governments could make a
   The original law did not dictate the specific   Once 10 percent of local governments of the          greater effort to protect them.
makeup of regional rail authorities, whose         same kind had adopted and filed resolutions             Several associations representing cities,
members are appointed by the county boards.        to opt out of the same mandate, then after the       towns, and counties testified against the bill
In the case of the metropolitan counties, the      next legislative session has adjourned, the          because it would unnecessarily restrict local
respective county boards have appointed            mandate would be waived for those who filed          planning and zoning authorities and allow the
themselves as the various regional railroad        unless the Legislature enacts a law prohibit-        property rights of shooting range owners to
authorities.                                       ing the opt out.                                     supersede the rights of all other surrounding
   Proponents of the bill said the authorities        The closest the bill came to a committee vote     property owners, they said.
are redundant and the duties should be             was when the House Local Government and                 A companion bill sponsored by Sen. Jim
handled by the state Department of Transpor-       Metropolitan Affairs Committee tabled the bill       Vickerman (DFL-Tracy) received approval
tation and the Metropolitan Council.               after a hearing that included the offering of        from two committees, and awaits action by a
   Rep. Philip Krinkie (R-Shoreview) and Sen.      an amendment that would prohibit govern-             third.
Mady Reiter (R-Shoreview) sponsored the bill.      ments from opting out of the state Human                HF327/SF462
   HF688/SF686                                     Rights Act.
                                                      This bill is essentially identical to the bill
                                                   establishing a mandate opt out procedure for           Overseeing Metrodome operations
                 Opting out of mandates            school districts. (See related story, page XX.)         A bill that would give Greater Minnesota
  A bill that would establish a process and           HF473/SF700                                       communities better representation on the
conditions by which local governments may                                                               body overseeing the Metrodome by diminish-
opt out of certain state mandates failed to re-                                                         ing Minneapolis’ current majority power
ceive a committee vote in either body in 2003.                                                          stalled in 2003, but remains alive for 2004.
  Sponsored by Rep. Mark Olson (R-Big                                                                      The bill would have changed the name of
Lake) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple                                                                   the commission to the Minnesota Sports and
Grove), the bill would allow cities, counties,                                                          Entertainment Commission; increased the
school districts, and townships to adopt a                                                              membership to 10 commissioners appointed

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                                                                                                                                                  Bills in Limbo


                                                                                                          The bill also requires applicants to prove they
                                                                                                          are in the United States legally before they can
                                                                                                          be given a license. Previously, simply showing
                                                                                                          a recent driver’s license from another state with
                                                                                                          a color photo or other image was sufficient to
                                                                                                          obtain one in Minnesota.
                                                                                                             Supporters said the bill would help law en-
                                                                                                          forcement prevent terrorism by letting police
                                                                                                          officers know when someone they encounter
                                                                                                          has overstayed their allowed time in the United
                                                                                                          States. If that were the case, an officer would
                                                                                                          then check with the immigration and natural-
                                                                                                          ization service officials to find out if the per-
                                                                                                          son is wanted by that agency.
                                                                                                             Several members of the public testified
                                                                                                          against the bill, expressing concerns about the
                                                                                                          high visibility of the visa expiration date and
                                                                                                          the stringent license application process, say-
                                                                                                          ing the bill could lead to unfair and unequal
                                                                                                          treatment of immigrants in Minnesota.
                                                                                 PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
                                                                                                             The bill will still be alive in 2004, though
The makeup of the commission that operates the Metrodome would be changed to have more Greater            the department is seeking permanent rules
Minnesota representation under a bill that failed to become law in 2003.                                  enacting the policy. The bill is sponsored by
                                                                                                          Sen. Dave Kleis (R-St. Cloud) and former Rep.
by the governor, with each congressional dis-        Minneapolis also opposed the bill, accord-
                                                                                                          Rich Stanek (R-Maple Grove), now commis-
trict being represented by a member; and re-       ing to City Coordinator John Moir.
                                                                                                          sioner of the Public Safety Department.
quired the governor to appoint the chair as the      The bill stalled in the House Ways and
                                                                                                             The Senate version did not receive commit-
11th member.                                       Means Committee. In the Senate, the bill was
                                                                                                          tee approval.
   Created under 1977 state statute to oversee     withdrawn from the Rules and Administration
Metrodome construction, the Metropolitan           Committee and returned to its author.
Sports Facilities Commission owns and op-            The House sponsor was Rep. Lynn Wardlow
erates the facility. It is comprised of six mem-   (R-Eagan).
bers appointed by Minneapolis leaders, and a         HF1042/SF633                                                          Crib safety
chair, appointed by the governor. The mem-                                                                   A bill that would have limited the use and
bers serve four-year terms.                                                                               resale of old and unsafe children’s cribs passed
   Sen. Cal Larson (R-Fergus Falls), the Sen-                                                             two House committees, but stalled in a third
ate sponsor, said that the commission does not
reflect the stadium as a statewide asset. “It’s    ★
                                                        SAFETY                                            in 2003.
                                                                                                             Among the bill’s provisions, it would have
not the Metropolitan Twins,” he said. “It’s not                                                           required child-care providers to conduct
the Metropolitan Vikings.”                                    Status check ID stalls                      monthly crib safety inspections. The state
   Larson added that the Minneapolis City             A set of temporary rules governing Minne-           commissioner of human services would have
Council should not be allowed to appoint six       sota driver’s licenses and state identification        reviewed mandatory records of such exami-
members to the board when only 10 percent          cards would be made permanent under a bill             nations during official inspections.
of the state’s population resides in               approved by the full House that stalled in 2003.          Additionally, child-care providers would
Minneapolis.                                          The bill did not pass the Senate, and al-           have been required after Jan. 1, 2004, to main-
   Minneapolis backed the bonds with a             though it was included in the omnibus trans-           tain documentation for each crib, stating its
downtown hospitality tax that provided con-        portation finance bill, the provision was not          brand name and model number; to annually
struction funds, took the risk associated with     included in the conference committee agree-            certify that their cribs are not identified as
that measure, and imposed a temporary liquor       ment on the bill.                                      unsafe by the Consumer Product Safety Com-
tax to raise funds, among other measures, said        The bill would put into statute a set of rules      mission; or certify that the cribs have been re-
Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington).             adopted by the Department of Public Safety             paired to be safe. The provider’s
Why, she asked, would any municipality as-         during the summer of 2002. Those rules man-            documentation would be maintained on the
sume such a large measure of responsibility        date that a temporary foreign visitor’s visa           Internet for viewing by parents and the
without guaranteed control?                        expiration date be printed on their driver’s li-       commissioner.
   Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) said he      cense or identification card. A proposed de-              Safety inspections would have accounted
was concerned about the message the bill           sign, being used under the temporary rules             for spacing between side slats, the height of
would send to other communities consider-          since last July, showed that information               railings, and the integrity of hardware, among
ing hosting stadiums.                              printed under the words “status check date”            other items.
                                                   in red letters on the front and back of the card.

Bills in Limbo
                                                                          L AW S

   In addition, the bill would:                      location of where the potential emergency call      Authority spend its limited money on secu-
• prohibit the sale or resale of unsafe cribs;       originated.                                         rity guards and working elevators. “Sprinklers
• prohibit hotels and motels from lending un-           The bill provides exemptions for businesses      really are not our main concern,” Johnson
   safe cribs to patrons; and                        that have one large location, those with            said.
• allow retrofits of unsafe cribs where the Con-     24-hour security staffs that assist emergency          Testifying against the bill itself were the
   sumer Product Safety Commission has ap-           responders, and those that currently provide        Minnesota Multi-Housing Association and
   proved the retrofit and where the procedure       correct information for public emergency ser-       the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, the latter
   is disclosed at the time of sale.                 vices to respond properly.                          of which owns or manages 1,010 units of af-
   Rep. Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport), the                 In 1996, Gov. Arne Carlson vetoed a simi-        fordable housing in the metropolitan area.
House sponsor, said the bill would not pro-          lar bill, citing its excessive cost for requiring      Testifying for the bill was Al Ratzloff, deputy
hibit the sale of potentially unsafe cribs at ga-    the location of every phone line in a multi-        director of fire services for the City of
rage sales due to the state’s inability to enforce   line system to be identified. No fiscal note was    Mankato, and Tom Brace, the former state fire
such a measure.                                      offered for the current bill.                       marshal.
   The bill drew testimony from an emotional            HF622/SF653                                         In the Senate, where Sen. Steve Murphy
father.                                                                                                  (DFL-Red Wing) is the sponsor, the bill was
   “I cannot explain what it’s like to lose a                                                            approved by one committee and awaits action
child,” said Rick Torgerson of Lino Lakes, a                                                             by the Senate Taxes Committee.
large, framed photo of his son, Luke, displayed               Sprinkler plan is doused                      HF336/SF295
on the witness table.                                   An effort to require fire protection sprin-
   Torgerson explained that his son’s death was      klers in all existing high rises more than
                                                     75 feet tall in Minnesota did not move forward,
a result of an unsafe crib at a daycare. The
daycare’s cribs, which had been purchased at         following committee rejection of just such a        ★
a garage sale, were inspected one business day       bill.
                                                                                                               Cigarette tax proposal falters
prior to Luke’s death, Togerson said, as part           Two amendments were approved prior to
                                                                                                            Cigarette taxes would have increased by
of biannual county inspections. However, the         the bill being voted down by the House Com-
                                                                                                         $1 per pack if a bill had passed in 2003. But
inspection was only visual.                          merce, Jobs, and Economic Development
                                                                                                         the proposal, which was partially included in
   The bill was approved by the House Com-           Policy Committee.
                                                                                                         the Senate’s tax bill, did not pass the House.
merce, Jobs, and Economic Development                   One would exempt from the sprinkler man-
                                                                                                            The bill would also eliminate the state tax
Policy Committee and the House Civil Law             date residential buildings consisting of at least
                                                                                                         on medical providers. The cigarette tax in-
Committee. It stalled in the House Health and        70 percent owner-occupied units, such as con-
                                                                                                         crease would offset the lost revenue.
Human Services Policy Committee.                     dominiums. It was offered by the House spon-
                                                                                                            Under the bill, taxes on a pack of cigarettes
   The Senate sponsor is Sen. Ellen Anderson         sor, Rep. Dennis Ozment (R-Rosemount).
                                                                                                         would go from 48 cents to $1.48, and taxes on
(DFL-St. Paul).                                         The second would exempt government-
                                                                                                         other tobacco products would rise by the same
   HF374/ SF377                                      owned public housing from the sprinkler
                                                                                                         proportion. If passed, Minnesota would have
                                                     mandate. It was offered by Rep. Karen Clark
                                                                                                         one of the highest tobacco taxes in the nation.
                                                     (DFL-Mpls) and Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-
                                                                                                            Previous proposals to eliminate the provider
                                                                                                         tax would have used money from the state’s
         Focusing emergency response                    Clark and Mullery said the bill would im-
                                                                                                         general fund surpluses or tobacco settlement
   A bill that aims to assure that 911 systems       pose a $17 million unfunded mandate on the
                                                                                                         fund to make up for lost revenues, but the pro-
accurately identify locations of an emergency        Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, which
                                                                                                         jected budget shortfall forced supporters to be
in buildings where there are large numbers of        is the largest landlord and direct provider of
                                                                                                         more creative in finding solutions.
offices did not pass the full House or Senate        affordable housing in the state. The agency has
                                                                                                            Bill proponents also said it would reduce
in 2003.                                             30 properties with 4,124 units that would have
                                                                                                         teen and adult smoking and save the state
   Sponsored by Rep. Steve Strachan                  been affected by the proposed mandate.
                                                                                                         long-term medical costs associated with
(R-Farmington) and Sen. Dallas Sams (DFL-               In favor of the amendment were Josephine
Staples), the bill would require public and pri-     Johnson, president of the Minneapolis High
                                                                                                            Provider taxes accounted for 1.4 percent of
vate sector building owners installing new           Rise Representative Council, and Doug
                                                                                                         the state’s budget in 2002, according to the
multi-line telephone systems to include cor-         Schelskey, a member of the resident advisory
                                                                                                         nonpartisan House Fiscal Analysis Depart-
rective technology so 911 calls from a com-          board for the Minneapolis Public Housing
                                                                                                         ment, and are primarily assessed on health
mercial office or government center, for             Authority’s property on Central Avenue. The
                                                                                                         care providers, including hospitals, physicians,
example, would show operators the correct            two said that the units are well constructed of
                                                                                                         dentists, psychologists, and others. Money col-
address of a potential emergency.                    non-combustible masonry and that fires that
                                                                                                         lected from the tax goes into the state’s Health
   Strachan said the bill may resolve a long-        have occurred have not escaped the unit in
                                                                                                         Care Access Fund, which finances the
standing problem 911 systems have had locat-         which they occurred.
                                                                                                         MinnesotaCare subsidized health insurance
ing addresses. Multi-line phone systems that            “I’m convinced our apartments are safe,
                                                                                                         program for low- and moderate-income fami-
require the user to dial “9” for an outside line     even when smoke inhalation comes in,”
                                                                                                         lies and individuals. The current tax rate is
will often show the emergency operator the           Schelskey said.
                                                                                                         1.5 percent of a provider’s gross expenditures,
address of a business headquarters or a phone           Johnson said the residents would rather
                                                                                                         and is scheduled to return to the 2 percent level
line switching location, rather than the             have the Minneapolis Public Housing
                                                                                                         beginning in January 2004.

                                                                       L AW S
                                                                                                                                              Bills in Limbo


   However, critics argued that the tobacco tax       The bill was included in the Senate omni-                   Market value issues
is the state’s most regressive because low-        bus tax bill, but not the House bill. The provi-      A bill that would delay the scheduled phase-
income people are much more likely to smoke        sion was ultimately removed in the conference      out of the state’s limited market value program
than more affluent individuals.                    committee.                                         failed to garner approval in 2003.
   Like the provider tax, money generated by a        HF507/SF450                                        Sponsored by Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-
tobacco tax would go into the dedicated Health                                                        St. Paul) and Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St.
Care Access Fund under the proposed                                                                   Paul), the bill would extend the phase-out of
legislation.                                                                                          limited market value for three additional years
   Rep. Fran Bradley (R-Rochester) and Sen.                   Tax haven countries                     by using the same limits for determining the
Sheila Kiscaden (IP-Rochester) sponsored the          Corporations or their subsidiaries incorpo-     increase in market value for taxes payable in
bill.                                              rated in a tax haven country are still permit-     2003 through 2006, and then resuming the
   HF29/SF114                                      ted to work with state agencies because a bill     current law scheduled phase-out for taxes pay-
                                                   prohibiting the practice failed to become law.     able in 2007 through 2010.
                                                      The measure would prohibit any state               According to nonpartisan House research-
                                                   agency from entering into or renewing any          ers, the limited market value program was cre-
             Vehicle tax break                     contract with a corporation or its subsidiary      ated by the Legislature to keep property taxes
   Alternative-fuel vehicle purchasers and         if the business is located in a tax haven coun-    in check by limiting the amount that a
those buying fuel-efficient automobiles re-        try if the United States is the principal market   property’s value can grow through the years.
main ineligible for a sales tax break.             for public trading of the corporation’s stock.     Eligible properties include residential, agricul-
   A bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein        The business would be responsible for noti-        tural, timberland, and non-commercial sea-
(DFL-Mpls) and Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-          fying the agency commissioner of their             sonal recreational residential, such as cabins.
Mpls), would provide a motor vehicle sales tax     ineligibility.                                        In calculating which property among these
exemption from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2007          Rep. Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson), the House      categories qualifies, the assessor continues to
for automobiles:                                   sponsor, said state agencies have previously       determine the property’s fair market value,
• certified with a fuel efficiency of at least     entered into contracts with businesses that        often called the estimated market value. How-
   45 miles per gallon on the highway and          participate in the practice. He felt it was time   ever, qualifying property is taxed at the lim-
   35 miles per gallon in the city; or             to do something because the state has given        ited market value rate if its growth exceeds the
• powered solely from an alternative fuel          significant sums of money to those with head-      limit.
   source; or                                      quarters offshore.                                    To determine the limit for taxes due in 2003,
• powered partially from a rechargeable en-           Although there have been only two con-          the market value increase must not exceed the
   ergy storage system and partially from regu-    tracts in the past with nominal monetary           greater of 10 percent of the limited market
   lar or alternative fuel, or both.               value, Ferdinand Schoettle, a law professor at     value in the preceding assessment year or
   Alternative fuels include alcohol fuels that    the University of Minnesota, said it’s like        15 percent of the difference between the cur-
are at least 70 percent alcohol by volume, natu-   catching a cancer in the first stage.              rent year’s estimated market value and the pre-
ral gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen,           A trend that moves corporations out of the      vious year’s limited market value.
coal-derived liquid fuel, fuels derived from       country is not in the state’s best interest,          In 2001, a law was enacted to phase out the
biological products, and electricity, including    Schoettle explained, referring to corporations     limited market value program over six years,
solar power.                                       that move their headquarters to tax haven          from assessment years 2002 to 2007. There-
   Hornstein told the House Taxes Commit-          countries to avoid corporate income tax.           fore, all property will be valued at full market
tee that the measure would help the United            A tax haven country is defined as one that      value for property tax purposes beginning in
States reduce reliance on imported oil, im-        has no corporate income tax or has a tax rate      2007 for taxes due in 2008.
prove global warming, and lead to fewer cases      of less than 10 percent on income that is not         Bill proponents said the program should
of cancer and asthma for those living along        derived from that country. The bill lists sev-     not be phased out because market value in-
busy transportation corridors.                     eral examples including: Barbados, Bermuda,        creases are exceeding income increases. “Let’s
   “If we can be known as an alternative fuel      British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Com-       see what happens when the economy im-
state, that will also enhance our ability to de-   monwealth of the Bahamas, and Cyprus.              proves,” Paymar said.
velop economically,” Hornstein said, adding           North Carolina has already enacted a simi-         But other representatives said the program
that 20 other states offer similar incentives.     lar law, and California introduced comparable      does the opposite of what it was intended to
   The U.S. Department of Energy identified        legislation in 2003, Schoettle stated.             accomplish and simply shifts the tax burden.
2,657 alternative-fuel vehicles in use in Min-        The measure passed in the Senate, where         Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington)
nesota in 1997 and 6,267 in 2000.                  Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul) is the           said the limited market value program is
   The average price of vehicles qualifying for    sponsor, but awaits action in the House State      “crazy” because it says that those whose as-
exemptions under the bill is $19,000. On the       Government Finance Committee.                      sets have increased in value shouldn’t have to
market today are the Toyota Prius, Honda In-          HF914/SF755                                     pay more.
sight, and Honda Civic Hybrid. On the way                                                                Neither the House nor Senate bills were in-
are nine vehicles by six automakers, accord-                                                          cluded in their respective omnibus tax bill.
ing to literature supplied by Hornstein.                                                                 HF241/SF211
   The estimated tax loss to the state during
the four years was $8.9 million.

Bills in Limbo
                                                                          L AW S

                   Delayed payment                   the property remains a small resort.                nanotechnology graduation standard. And a
   Resort owners cannot delay the first half of        David Thompson, owner of Fisherman’s              partnership with the Winona technical college
their annual property tax payment by two             Village Resort in Otter Tail County, said the       is creating what is said to be only the second
months, since a bill permitting such was not         bill addresses the rising value of lakeshore        two-year technical degree in the country.
included in either the House or Senate omni-         property that subsequently drives up property          Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) and Sen. Bob
bus tax bill.                                        taxes for small-resort owners who help fuel         Kierlin (R-Winona) are the sponsors.
   Under current law, first half property tax        the state’s economy.                                   HF176/SF243
payments on certain homesteaded resort                 Rising taxes are forcing some resort own-
property and commercial resort property is           ers to close, according to a letter submitted to
due May 15. However, most resorts don’t open         the committee by Joel Carlson, a lobbyist for
for business before Memorial Day. The bill           the Congress of Minnesota Resorts. Where                     Electronic library access
would delay the payment until July 15 and            there were once 3,000 family-operated resorts,         A proposal to spend $800,000 to support
could also relieve cash flow problems faced by       there are now fewer than 1,000, according to        electronic access to more than 13,000 books,
small-resort owners.                                 the letter.                                         newspapers, and periodicals in schools and
   The second half payment would continue              The bill awaits committee action in the           libraries throughout the state was not included
to be due Oct. 15, under the bill.                   Senate.                                             in either a House or Senate omnibus bill.
   Mike Tonnes, owner of Papoose Bay Lodge             HF331/SF322                                          The bill would designate general fund
in Park Rapids, told the House Taxes Com-                                                                money for statewide licenses to selected online
mittee that small- and medium-sized resorts                                                              databases used by public, school-based, and
have seen the winter customer base drop dra-                                                             state agency libraries, as well as those at pub-
matically in the past five years due to a lack of
                                                          TECHNOLOGY                                     lic and private colleges and universities.
measurable snow. This has cost him $100,000                                                                 “This is continuing funding for the e-library
in lost profit, he said. Furthermore, he said that           Nanotechnology institute                    system used by students and many families,”
reservations for summer are down. “We’re just           A bill to put Minnesota squarely in the fu-      said Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls), the
having a tough time and we’re not alone.”            turistic field of nanotechnology through the        House sponsor.
   But Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls) and Rep.          funding of a southeast Minnesota institute             For the 2002-03 biennium, funding for the
Ron Abrams (R-Minnetonka), the committee             passed one House committee, but subse-              Electronic Library for Minnesota included
chair, questioned whether approving the bill         quently stalled in the House Jobs and Eco-          $800,000 from the Department of Education
would cause other seasonal business owners           nomic Development Finance Committee in              and $2 million from the Higher Education
to request a tax payment delay. Abrams was           2003.                                               Services Office.
further concerned that a property tax payment           It also awaits action in the Senate Finance         The e-library, part of the MINITEX Library
delay could have a negative impact on county         Committee.                                          Information Network based at the University
cash flow.                                              Nanotechnology — said to be the next In-         of Minnesota, offers state residents electronic
   Rep. Doug Fuller (R-Bemidji) and Sen.             dustrial Revolution — is the direct manipu-         access to more than 4,800 online magazines
Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point) are the spon-           lation of atoms and molecules at the atomic         and journals and more than 8,600 electronic
sors.                                                level. It has applications in nearly every aspect   books, including almanacs, encyclopedias, di-
   HF364/SF321                                       of modern life, from space travel to cancer         rectories, and other resources.
                                                     treatments. One example is specialty fabric            “This provides materials to libraries equally
                                                     treatment for medical uniforms that could           throughout the state,” said Lars Steltzner of
                 Small resort assistance             prevent infections in hospitals.                    Afton, a retired media specialist. “It’s a real
   A bill that would help preserve small resorts        As introduced, the bill would provide            close on the gaps between the haves and the
by creating a tax deferment program was not          $5 million in state funding for the creation of     have-nots.”
included in the House omnibus tax bill.              the Rushford Institute for Nanotechnology, in          The $800,000 in K-12 funds proposed for
   Sponsored by Rep. Larry Howes (R-Walker)          Rushford. It was later amended to leave the         the e-library system was not included in Gov.
and Sen. Dallas Sams (DFL-Staples), the bill         appropriation unspecified.                          Tim Pawlenty’s budget recommendations for
would create a valuation and tax deferment              The institute would serve as a business in-      2004-05.
program for class 1c homesteaded resorts. The        cubator, with a fully equipped research labo-          Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) sponsors the
program is similar to the agricultural “Green        ratory at its heart. There, small businesses        Senate companion bill.
Acres” program.                                      could develop prototypes to attract companies          HF626/SF756
   Under the bill, taxes would be based on the       such as Kodak, 3M, and Johnson & Johnson,
use of the property as a resort and not on the       said Deb Newberry, president of Newberry
estimated market value of the land. If the land      Technologies and a nuclear physicist.                    Surcharge for student learning
was sold and used for something other than a            Proponents said that state funding would           An education telecommunications fund
small resort, a tax would be due equal to the dif-   ensure job growth and statewide economic            based on a phone bill surcharge would be es-
ference between the tax actually paid and the        viability, not only for the small town of           tablished under a bill considered in 2003, but
amount that would have been paid based on the        Rushford, but also for the region.                  not passed. The measure remains alive for
full estimated market value for three years.            The program also contains an education           2004.
   A person purchasing the resort would also         component. The local school system was the            The money would be used to maintain and
qualify for the deferment program, provided          first in the country to develop a                   expand an Internet network in the state that

                                                                               L AW S
                                                                                                                                                            Bills in Limbo


connects K-12 public schools, public librar-
ies, and the state’s colleges and universities.
   “This is the only network for K-12 schools
and public libraries,” Peg Werner, chair of the
Minnesota Library Association’s telecommu-
nications committee, told the House Regulated
Industries Committee. “If it’s gone, there is no
Internet,” she said, noting that the network has
been built over the past seven years with fed-
eral funding, as well as incremental state fund-
ing that has expired.
   Telecommunications fund money would
come from a 25-cent surcharge on the monthly
bill for each customer wireless or hardwire line
for voice or data services. The surcharge is ex-
pected to raise $16 million a year.
   The fund would be administered by the
Education Department, with program over-
sight by the Minnesota Education Telecom-
munications Council. Schools and public
libraries that receive telecommunications
funds from the state would be required to ap-
                                                                                                                                               PHOTO BY TOM OLMSCHEID
ply for discounted rates from telecommuni-
                                                         A bill that would increase the gas tax by 8 cents per gallon and add an additional variable gas tax to pay
cations service providers.                               debt service on a trunk highway bond issue failed to pass in 2003. The bill would also authorize a half-cent
   Buzz Anderson, representing the Minnesota             sales tax in 11 metropolitan-area counties to fund transportation projects, if approved in a referendum.
Retailers Association, said the bill was a “bad
idea” because it would increase business costs           which would pay for additional transporta-             • $1 million for grants to towns to replace
in the state. Large retailers and service compa-         tion-related projects.                                    town road signs.
nies have “thousands of phone lines,” he said.              Estimates show that the gas tax would in-              The bridge and wetland replacement funds are
   For rural school districts, the Internet learn-       crease a total of 14 cents through 2028, under         intended, in part, to replace funds that Gov. Jesse
ing network is essential, said Vernae                    the bill. The increased gas tax would generate         Ventura vetoed from the 2002 bonding bill.
Hasbargen, executive director of the Minne-              an additional $840 million and the sales tax              The $2.7 million for road project-related wet-
sota Rural Education Association. “It’s the one          would bring in an additional $200 million,             land mitigation was included in the 2003 bond-
vehicle we have to equalize access to learning           according to testimony.                                ing law. (See related story, page XX.)
opportunities,” she said.                                   The bill also authorizes 11 metropolitan-area          The local project fund identified in the bill
   The bill passed one House committee and               counties to collect an additional half-cent sales      would be allocated similarly to how projects
awaits action in a second. In the Senate, the            tax in their communities for transportation-re-        are funded through the county-state-aid and
bill was included in the omnibus tax bill, but           lated projects if the voters in those communities      municipal-state-aid systems, which is largely
was removed by a conference committee.                   approve the tax. The revenue would go to a met-        based on need. In addition, the bill would pro-
   Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) and Sen.                ropolitan transportation fund, 75 percent of           vide funds for cities with populations below
Steve Kelley (DFL-Hopkins) are the sponsors.             which could be spent on highway improvements           5,000 that do not currently qualify for any
   HF794/SF766                                           including bottleneck alleviation, and 25 percent       municipal-state-aid funds.
                                                         for transit capital projects.                             Rep. Ron Erhardt (R-Edina) and Sen. Dean
                                                            The counties included in the provision are          Johnson (DFL-Willmar) sponsored the bill.
                                                         Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin,                 HF1255/SF1203

     TRANSPORTATION                                      Isanti, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Washington,
                                                         and Wright.
     Gas tax, local sales tax options                       The bill also calls for an additional
   A bill that would raise the gas tax and autho-        $763.7 million in general obligation bonds for                      License fee revenue
rize a local sales tax option in the metropolitan        various local road projects. The additional              A bill that would increase license tab fees to
area, all in the effort to increase funding for trans-   bond proceeds would be divided, under the              raise additional revenue for transportation
portation, did not advance from the House in             bill, as follows:                                      projects was considered, but not included in,
2003, though portions of it were included in the         • $760 million for a major local projects ac-          the 2003 House transportation finance pack-
Senate transportation proposal.                             count in the local road development fund            age. Portions were contained in the Senate’s
   The bill would increase the gas tax by 8 cents           including $20 million for local bridge re-          version, but the conference committee did not
per gallon – from 20 cents to 28 cents – and                placement and rehabilitation grants,                agree to the provision.
would allow for additional variable increases            • $2.7 million to the Board of Water and Soil            In 2000 as part of a budget compromise,
to pay the costs of financing a $1.24 billion               Resources for road project-related wetland          Gov. Jesse Ventura chose to reduce license tab
issue of trunk highway bonds, the proceeds of               replacement, and                                    and registration fees. Currently, the tax is

Bills in Limbo
                                                                              L AW S

                                                                                                             be placed on the 2004 general election ballot to
                                                                                                             dedicate 100 percent of motor vehicle sales taxes
                                                                                                             for highway and public transit purposes, begin-
                                                                                                             ning in fiscal year 2008.
                                                                                                                If voters chose to pass such an amendment,
                                                                                                             three things would happen, under the bill: ve-
                                                                                                             hicle license tab fees would revert to 2003 lev-
                                                                                                             els, 32 percent of the motor vehicle sales tax
                                                                                                             would be dedicated to the highway user tax
                                                                                                             distribution fund, and the rest of the sales tax
                                                                                                             revenue would be used for transit property tax
                                                                                                             replacement, transit assistance in the metro-
                                                                                                             politan area and Greater Minnesota, and ma-
                                                                                                             jor trunk highway projects.
                                                                                                                Motor vehicle sales taxes were distributed
                                                                                                             as follows in 2003:
                                                                                                             • 32 percent to the highway user tax distribu-
                                                                                                                tion fund,
                                                                                                             • 20.5 percent to the metropolitan area transit
                                                                                                             • 1.25 percent to the Greater Minnesota transit
                                                                                                                fund, and
                                                                                                             • 46.25 percent to the general fund.
                                                                                   PHOTO BY ANDREW VONBANK
                                                                                                                The final transportation finance law did
                                                                                                             change the distribution formula slightly
License tab fees will not be raised to pay for transportation projects this year, but the proposal may be
considered in 2004. A bill that would have raised the fees in the second, third, and fourth years of a
                                                                                                             from 2004 to 2007, but it will return to the
vehicle’s life was not included in the omnibus transportation finance law.                                   2003 distribution in 2008.
                                                                                                                According to the bill, the additional revenue
based on its full value the first year of a              $99 limit for the fifth and subsequent years of     would be available to help fund the $1.5 bil-
vehicle’s life. It shall not exceed $189 in the next     the vehicle.                                        lion in trunk highway bonds authorized from
year, and is limited to $99 in each of the fol-              In addition, the bill would reduce the          2004 to 2010.
lowing years, under existing law.                        percentage of motor vehicle sales taxes dedicated      Rep. Michael Beard (R-Shakopee) and Sen.
  The bill would raise those limits to $200 in           to the highway user tax distribution fund from      Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar) are the
the second year of a vehicle’s life, $175 in the third   the current level of 32 percent to 27.46 percent.   sponsors.
year, $125 in the fourth, and would maintain the         It also proposes that a constitutional amendment       HF1372/SF1284


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