ST. PAUL (AP) -- An end is in sight to this year's legislative session -- if you look hard.
"Even though maybe both House and Senate had little setbacks last week, ... we're still positioned to be out of here by Easter," said House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon. "We don't have to make that. It just seems a pretty natural time."
Easter is March 31, two weeks away.
First, though, the 201 lawmakers need to make decisions: on a bonding bill, a budget fix, on sports stadiums, funds for transportation and for terrorism preparedness.
In even-numbered years, the Legislature traditionally writes a bill for new construction projects. But the task was derailed Thursday in the House by a disagreement over whether to pay for a commuter rail line between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities. The $839 million package needed 81 votes to pass, but got just 59.
The Republican-led House could take the bill back up in the days ahead. If it passes that chamber, the plan still would have to be reconciled with a $1.2 billion plan passed by the DFL-controlled Senate. Gov. Jesse Ventura says the state can't afford more than $500 million in new capital spending.
While the House is lagging the Senate on bonding, it is ahead on a plan to erase the remaining $439 million of the state's immediate budget deficit. Four of the five bills needed passed last week, with the fifth likely to be decided Monday.
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