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Dayton signs 4 measures into law; online lotto sales restrictions in limbo

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Governor Mark Dayton signed four of the bills passed during this legislative session into law, including the $1.1 billion bonding bills and a second round of tax cuts. But that's only the start.

Dayton, the Pioneer Press notes, has about 30 more bills to act on – choosing to either sign or veto – and about two weeks to do it.

Two of the most notable remaining measures Dayton needs to decide on: the legalization of medical marijuana and online lottery sales restrictions.

When the medical marijuana bill passed, Dayton signaled he would sign it. MinnPost says that's still the case, and he could add his signature this week.

Dayton's feelings toward the online lottery bill are murkier.

The measure would ban instant online lottery sales, the electronic instant scratch-off tickets that were just implemented in February, and the gas pump lotto pilot project, KARE 11 reported.

Lottery Director Edwin Van Petten said last month halting those sales would cost the state about $2.5 million.

Up to this point, the governor has not indicated whether he will sign the bill, previously expressing concern that legislators may be micromanaging the Lottery’s operations. But the Star Tribune says Van Petten – who was handpicked for the position by Dayton in 2012 – "craves" a veto from the governor.

Signed Into Law

While Dayton still hasn't divulged his online lottery sales decision, on Tuesday he made four of this session's bills official.

The biggest, at least in terms of dollars, is the $1.17 billion bonding bill package. It comprises two bills – one that involves $846 million in state borrowing, the other requires spending $200 million in on-hand cash. Dayton's office is referring to the package as the "Minnesota Jobs Bill."

Check out a full list of projects here.

Among them:
– $126 million for Capitol building renovations
– $57 million for University of Minnesota Tate laboratory improvements
– $56.3 million for remodeling work at the Minnesota State Security Hospital in St. Peter
– $33 million for local bridge work, and $54 million for local road work.

The measure also includes funding for metro transit and trail improvements, and money for the Nicollet Mall, and the Minnesota Zoo projects.

Dayton also signed a second round of tax cuts, about $103 million that could affect 1 million Minnesotans. More than half of it is directed to property taxes. It comes in addition to the much larger tax relief bill signed in March.

A supplemental spending bill also got Dayton's signature. The bill, according to the governor's office, puts about $283 million toward a host of investments, including broadband infrastructure, education funding for every school district, healthy school lunch for all Minnesota students, and improved railway safety statewide.

Session Ends, Politicking Begins

Even with the legislative session officially over, it being an election year, the politics are starting to ramp up.

The Senate is not up for election this November, so Republicans are focused on winning the 134-member House, which would allow them to thwart DFL-sponsored bills and push their own. Republicans need to add seven seats to gain control.

Republican legislative leaders fired up the fight to end one-party dominance at the Capitol.

Saying the DFL controlled legislature passed bills that overtaxed Minnesotans and harmed families, Republicans hit the road Monday to launch an effort to regain control of the House. The Star Tribune reports that GOP leaders staged a morning new conference in St. Paul, then headed out for more of the same in Moorhead, Austin and Luverne.

Republicans criticized Democrats for pushing the $77 million office building and for last year’s tax hikes. They also stressed the problems with MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange, with Senate Majority Leader David Hann calling the system a “failure.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are insisting that Republicans were in charge during back-to-back budget deficits that drained budget reserves and led to billion dollar loans from the state’s school districts.

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