Legislature has one week left, lots to do


Minnesota lawmakers have one week left in the current legislative session, and several big votes still to take.

Some items on the agenda include a bonding bill to fund large construction projects, a second tax cut measure and a measure to legalize marijuana for some medical uses.

Here's a list of some of the items awaiting action before the May 19 deadline to adjourn, as compiled by the Associated Press.

BONDING/CONSTRUCTION BILL: Lawmakers agree on how much the state should borrow by selling bonds: $846 million. But the exact list of projects — college buildings, water pipelines, civic centers, theaters — is still up for debate. The Senate has proposed spending an additional $200 million in cash to fund additional construction projects.

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET: Leaders in both houses have agreed to spend an additional $300 million or so, which became available due to the state's projected $1.2 billion budget surplus. Some of that is likely to cover 5 percent rate increases to certain caregivers; broadband development in rural Minnesota and education. One big question is whether Gov. Mark Dayton will use his line-item veto to reduce the spending package. He told lawmakers last week their spending plans were "excessive," according to the Star Tribune.

TAX RELIEF: After one tax break was signed into law earlier in the session, another one is ready to be acted upon. The $103 million plan includes modest increases in property tax refunds for homeowners and renters, and a new tax credit for farmers.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Minnesota could join other states in allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes. But the House and Senate passed significantly different bills governing how many people can have access to the drug, how it would be distributed and in what forms it would be available. Those differences need to be resolved before lawmakers take final action. Gov. Dayton has also weighed in, saying he would veto a bill that is opposed by law enforcement.

LOTTERY CURBS: Lawmakers could take away from the Minnesota Lottery the ability to sell scratch-off tickets online and at gas pumps. The Senate has already passed a measure to take that action. Some critics have felt the online scratch-off version mimics slot machine gambling. Lottery leaders are hoping for a compromise, but powerful lawmakers are in favor of greater restrictions.

E-CIGARETTES: Sellers and users of e-cigarettes will likely see some new rules. Both chambers have approved a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and their use on school property. But they disagree on whether e-cigarettes should be treated like regular cigarettes and be banned from public places.

LAWMAKER CRIMINAL IMMUNITY: A move to make it clear that lawmakers can’t avoid arrest for drunken driving or other crimes during a legislative session seems unlikely. The House passed a bill making that change but the measure has stalled in the Senate. Key senators say there is no criminal immunity and the issue has been overblown. The push for a change first came from a student organization at Concordia University in St. Paul.

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