Happenings Tuesday at the Minnesota Capitol:
Seven student leaders had Gov. Jesse Ventura's ear for nearly two hours and came away deciding to "respectfully agree to disagree" on college funding.
The University of Minnesota students told Ventura that his proposals for $56 million in new spending wouldn't cut it, but he held his ground, the students said later.
"His big question for the day is where are the cuts going to come from" elsewhere in his proposal to fund the university at a higher rate, said Matt Clark, president of the Minnesota Student Association on the Twin Cities campus.
Clark said Ventura told him to take their case to the Legislature, which can choose to reinstate more of the university's $221 million funding request.
In response to talk that tuition would go up considerably under the governor's budget, Clark said the governor doubted university regents would pass double-digit hikes onto students.
Think twice about running a red light. That's the message from a Senate panel that endorsed a bill letting cities to mail tickets to scofflaws caught on camera.
On an 8-6 vote, the Senate Transportation Committee agreed to Sen. Roy Terwilliger's photocop bill. It now goes to the Judiciary Committee.
"We can't have police at every corner and this is one way to have a deterrent," said Terwilliger, R-Edina.
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have camera-recording systems. Generally, the cameras take photos of the rear license plate as a vehicle goes through an intersection after the light has changed to red.
The photos are treated as proof of a violation and mailed to the owner of the car.
The bill would treat the photo-tickets the same as parking tickets, whereby the vehicle owner, not necessarily the overtime parker, is responsible for the fine.
Sen. Dave Johnson, DFL-Bloomington and an attorney, said he considers the bill unconstitutional because the driver's identity would be unknown. "We're not in the business of passing unconstitutional laws," he said.
State transportation officials have been field-testing the cameras for years in the metro area and outstate Minnesota. Bob Weinholzer, who oversaw the tests, said the cameras caught up to 179 violations a day at some intersections.
Violations caught by camera would not be reported on the driving record of the vehicle's owner, but some senators expressed concern that insurance companies would find out anyway and raise the owner's rates.
Attorney General Mike Hatch and a DFL cast of legislators laid out a crime package that would lengthen sentences for child killers, sex offenses and "party drug" possession and sales.
The series of bills "will help make sure that miscreants are held accountable for their crimes," Hatch said.
The proposals seek to:
--Make premeditated murder of a child under 14 carry a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
--Increase the sentence for second-degree sexual assault from 48 months to 90 months. Last year the Legislature bumped up first-degree assault sentences from 88 months to 150 months, but the lawmakers say it created a wide gap that gives suspects an incentive to plea to the lesser charge and get off easier.
--Subject manufacture, possession and sale of party drugs like Ecstasy to a possible penalty of up to 86 months. One bill would treat amphetamines more like their near cousin, methamphetamines, under criminal laws.
None of the sponsors could say how many jail or prison beds the bills would require, but all said any cost would be worth it.
"We don't look at what it costs to heal a victim," said Rep. Wes Skoglund of Minneapolis.
The chief sponsors of one of more of the bills are Skoglund, Rep. Debra Hilstrom of Brooklyn Center, Sen. Randy Kelly of St. Paul and Sen. Leo Foley of Coon Rapids.
A proposal to put more restrictions on off-highway vehicle use in Minnesota is spurring strong reactions from both sides of the issue.
The bill would do four things: Establish a "designated routes only" policy for OHVs; require the enforcement of OHV laws to be a top priority; require automobile size license plates on the front and rear of OHVs; and require an extensive environmental review of all proposed trails.
"The issue to me is one of responsible use," said Rep. John Tuma, R-Northfield. "We're trying to preserve our state resources."
The group Minnesotans for Responsible Recreation helped craft the proposal. The Duluth-based group believes OHVs cause widespread environmental damage to public lands.
On the other side is the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota, whose members believe the proposed legislation would cripple efforts to better manage OHV activities.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I'm already in purgatory, so why not step all the way."
--Sen. Dick Day, R-Owatonna, before criticizing a Catholic priest who spoke against his casino bill. Day said it was hypocritical for the priest to speak against expanded legalized gambling because bingo is a church staple.
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