ST. PAUL -- Even if Gov. Jesse Ventura moves out, the governor's official residence would stay open for public events under a Senate bill.
Sen. Dean Johnson of Willmar said the amendment, added to a bill related to license plates, clears up ambiguities about what happens if Ventura, as he has threatened, vacates.
Under the terms of the 1965 gift that put the mansion in state control, the building is to be demolished after it is closed. That deed expired in 1995, however, and Sen. Richard Cohen of St. Paul said it's unclear without the Senate bill what is to happen to the residence.
Ventura said he'd leave the mansion in response to cuts to his security budget.
Spokesman John Wodele said Ventura opposes the effort as unwelcome micromanagement of a part of his budget.
"We would consider that an unfunded mandate," Wodele said. "The building would still have to be staffed. The building would have to be secure. We couldn't let people come and go and have keggers."
Talks on bonding bill
ST. PAUL -- A bipartisan group of senators proposed to jump-start stalled negotiations over the borrowing bill with a plan to split the difference between the House and Senate bills.
Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe said the move could serve as the "tipping domino" that would lead to agreements on the rest of the policy differences between the House and Senate this session.
The House bill would have the state issue bonds worth $740 million for new university buildings, park improvements and some road projects. The Senate bill proposes $1.076 billion. Middle ground would be $908 million.
The senators offered a plan getting about half way to that number and said when the House does the same, negotiators can start meeting.
"No," responded House Speaker Steve Sviggum, who said all the big issues are linked. "We're not going to negotiate in a vacuum, not one bill in a vacuum."
He also said the Senate's bill starts from too high a number because, under the latest budget figures, it would take more than 3 percent of the budget to pay the interest costs on that much borrowing. Three percent is the limit under state guidelines.
Man convicted of sex abuse wins new trial
ST. PAUL (AP) -- Criminal defendants who face the possibility of prison time must personally waive their right to a jury trial if they want the case decided by a judge, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
Ruben Perez Tlapa, who was convicted by a Le Sueur County judge in March 2001 of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl, will get a new trial because he never declared in open court or in writing that he agreed not to face a jury.
An attorney for Tlapa, 26, waived the jury trial after consulting with his client, who was aided in court by a Spanish-language interpreter. In his appeal, Tlapa contended that he did not knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waive his right to a jury trial.
Even if he did, the appeals court ruled that Tlapa needed to make the waiver request himself.
"This rule is clear and plain in its meaning," wrote Judge Gordon Shumaker for the unanimous three-judge panel. "We have held that the rule is easy to apply:"
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