2014 Legislature: Massage parlors, lottery, liquor, e-cigs

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Minnesota state lawmakers have already started piling up bills for the new legislative session, which begins late next month.

House lawmakers have introduced 278 bills so committees can begin considering them – a taste of the session to come, the Associated Press reports. The Senate will start accepting early bills in mid-February in advance of the session's opening day Feb. 25. The session will conclude in mid-May.

The early bills take aim at a variety of issues, including: repealing or modifying taxes, funding local public works projects and altering MNsure, the state's new health care insurance marketplace, the AP reports.

Other proposed legislation aims to change regulatory rules for massage parlors, e-cigarettes, liquor stores and Internet-based lottery tickets, the AP notes. Lawmakers have raised a concern about the expansion of online gaming and ticketing, but Minnesota Lottery officials say they are pursuing online scratch-off games anyway.

State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said she plans to push a bill that would ban use of electronic cigarettes in public places.

On taxes, Gov. Mark Dayton has said that if a projected budget surplus pans out, he would favor dropping some new business taxes on farm machinery repair, telecommunications equipment and warehousing services, a proposal pushed by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

Also on tap in the new session: a bonding bill with roughly $975 million in construction projects around the state. Check those out on a new Senate website.

Lawmakers and activist groups also say strengthening the state's 37-word anti-bullying law is on their agenda for the session.

And MPR News reports that a number of proposals have been floated to better protect Minnesota's environment, including plans to boost recycling rates, save the declining bee population, and curb the use of tiny beads found in facial cleansers, which may be bad for fish.

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