Happenings Tuesday and this morning at the Minnesota Capitol:
Lawmakers passed a $610 million bonding package for regional and statewide construction projects.
The Senate slid the bill through just seconds before a self-imposed deadline of 7 a.m.
''I move that the rules be suspended under whatever the number is,'' said Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, rushing to get it finished so the Legislature could override vetoes of any projects.
The bill included $100 million for the University of Minnesota, $131 million for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, $80 million for various Department of Children, Families and Learning projects, $44 million for transitways sought by Gov. Jesse Ventura, and $58 million for a new Bureau of Criminal Apprehension lab and office.
The Department of Natural Resources also came out a winner with $73 million in projects.
The proposal had been controversial because of Ventura's requests for more than $100 million in projects that many lawmakers disagreed with.
The bill passed the House 102-29 and the Senate 63-2.
After strikingly little debate, the House passed a multimillion-dollar tax cut bill 124-6.
The bill includes a $160 million income tax cut, vehicle registration fee reductions of more than $150 million and a $640 million sales tax rebate.
Under the bill, tax rates would decline in all three income brackets -- by 0.15 percentage point in the top and bottom brackets and by 0.2 percentage point in the middle bracket. The average tax reduction would be about 2.8 percent.
The sales tax rebate mirrors last year's, although it is about half the size. Eligibility has been expanded to anyone who filed a 1998 income tax return, and includes Social Security recipients and working students under 18.
The Senate had opposed the across-the-board income tax cuts as unfair to middle and lower income Minnesotans, favoring a personal exemption credit instead.
But the income tax cuts were part of a three-way agreement among the House, Senate and Gov. Jesse Ventura.
The Senate passed the bill 64-1.
Money for road and bridge construction is the backbone of a $596 million transportation plan headed for Gov. Jesse Ventura's desk.
The legislators who drafted the transportation package called it one of the most ambitious such plans for a nonbudget year. It was approved 96-35 in the House and 64-2 in the Senate.
Most of the one-time money would go to road projects throughout Minnesota, including equal $177 million chunks going to metropolitan and greater Minnesota. Also included is $39 million for bridges.
The mass transit portion of the bill drew the most criticism in both chambers. The bill includes about $25 million for transit, too little in the eyes of some lawmakers.
''We know that building highways will not take us out of the congestion we are looking at in the metropolitan areas,'' said Rep. Alice Johnson, DFL-Spring Lake Park.
''To suggest that we should be elated about this amount, you're asking us to do a lot,'' echoed Sen. Jane Ranum, DFL-Minneapolis.
But House Transportation Finance Chairwoman Carol Molnau, R-Chaska, said transit got a big boost last year with $60 million for light rail to add to the $40 million the Legislature approved a year earlier.
She said roads and bridges needed attention now, adding that transportation is an essential function of government.
''You and I have a street past our house but we can't build that street by ourselves,'' Molnau told a colleague who questioned why the state should spend so much in a nonbudget year.
The bonding conference committee tentatively inserted in its bill $44 million for a dedicated busway Gov. Jesse Ventura wanted.
A conference committee sealed up a bill providing $185 million in education funding and the House and Senate approved it handily.
The package deals with all levels of learning, from early childhood to colleges. But the lion's share would go to K-12 schools.
Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, had wide discretion in shaping the bill under the three-way budget deal leaders agreed to last week.
Rep. Alice Seagren, R-Bloomington, was frustrated by the process but accepted the product.
''I wish we could have had a little more say in how we spent the money,'' Seagren said. ''But overall I think the money has been spent very wisely.''
Of the spending, all but $67 million is built into the state's ongoing education budgets. The most significant items include funding for high-speed Internet access throughout the state and help for school districts struggling with special education costs.
Lawmakers also addressed funding shortfalls many school districts experienced as a result of an unexpected rise in teacher retirements. Some teachers will also have part of their college loans forgiven if they take on jobs in high-demand fields.
Charter schools counting on state aid to pay building leases also benefit from the bill. Secondary vocation programs get a boost as well.
Schools expanding Internet access must heed new rules governing pornography by installing filters or using other devices to block it. Libraries that receive state funding are covered by the rules, but colleges are exempted.
Another new policy would require districts to notify parents of pesticides used on school grounds.
A wolf management plan is now in the hands of Gov. Jesse Ventura.
The provision is part of a larger bill that includes a $25 million lottery tax dedication to natural resources, a $6 million hunting and fishing license fee increase and a clarification on a new law allowing lighted fishing lures.
The House approved the package 87-44. The Senate earlier passed the bill 56-7.
Two provisions in the wolf plan had caused the bulk of the dispute for some lawmakers: One would divide the state into two ''wolf management'' zones and the other would allow shooting wolves ''at any time'' in much of the state to protect livestock, pets and guard animals.
The bill would give more protection to wolves in the northeastern third of the state than in the rest of Minnesota.
''I feel this is a good compromise,'' said House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Chairman Mark Holsten, R-Stillwater.
Some language had been tightened to clarify that people could only shoot wolves on their own land to protect their property and could only hire a licensed trapper to trap within one mile of land they owned.
The bill failed to pass last year, delaying the removal of the animal from federal protection.
Three bills that would limit the release of personal information by phone companies, Internet providers and banks passed the Senate but weren't heard in the House.
The proposals would prohibit the release of most information about individuals unless the individuals consent -- or ''opt-in'' -- in advance.
The telephone and Internet measures, both sponsored by Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, passed unanimously. The banking bill, sponsored by Sen. Tony Kinkel, DFL-Park Rapids, spurred more controversy, passing on a 61-2 vote after several amendments were fended off.
''Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the folks out there don't do this, but we have to be proactive or I think this thing is going to snowball,'' Kinkel said.
Banking, insurance and retailing groups had lined up against the bill, saying a new federal banking law should be given time to operate.
The bill conforms to that law in every respect but one: It requires people to opt-in, instead of the federal law's opt-out, under which banks may share consumer data unless the individual objects in writing.
''We don't need an interfering government telling us how this should take place,'' said Sen. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines. ''This legislation is really an overreaction.''
House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, R-Eagan, said the House would likely block the Senate bills.
''It is not our intent to pass their version of privacy,'' he said. ''They loaded up bills and they lobbed them over here.''
The Legislature dropped a proposal that would have allowed the shooting of elk on game preserves.
The Senate voted 26-37 against a conference committee report that included the provision, sending it back to committee. The provision was then taken out, and the larger bill was approved by both chambers.
''This is not hunting,'' said Sen. Gary Laidig, R-Stillwater. ''It doesn't matter how large the preserve, the animal will eventually hit a fence.''
The proposal has been criticized for being unsportsmanlike. But Minnesota ranchers who raise and sell elk for use on game preserves in other states have lobbied for the legislation.
The bill would have allowed up to 10 elk-shooting preserves in Minnesota.
The larger bill -- which was approved 131-0 in the House and 60-0 in the Senate -- includes restrictions on fishing contests and allowing an all-season buck license.
Lawmakers trying to stop minors from using false identification cards to buy alcohol or cigarettes sent a bill to Gov. Jesse Ventura that would impose stiffer penalties for those who are caught.
The House and Senate approved the bill, which also addresses penalties for adults who purchase or attempt to purchase tobacco-related products for minors.
The House defeated a similar proposal earlier this session. The revised bill, worked out by a conference committee, makes a second conviction for both offenses a gross misdemeanor.
''If you are using a fraudulent ID, you are committing fraud. This is not done innocently,'' said Rep. Peggy Leppik, R-Golden Valley.
Sen. Tony Kinkel, DFL-Park Rapids, worried that a gross misdemeanor was too harsh.
''The penalty will now be greater if you have a false ID than if you just stole (cigarettes),'' he said.
The bill also allows bar owners and retailers to seize ID cards they believe to be false and hold them for up to 24 hours. They would have to be turned over to police.
The House and Senate approved a bill designed to generate public input before the state could sell timber, sending it to Gov. Jesse Ventura for his consideration.
Before the measure passed the Senate, Sen. Doug Johnson registered strong objections, saying the plan was driven by environmental extremists.
''We've seen them,'' said Johnson, a DFLer from Tower in northeastern Minnesota. ''They were in the trees on Highway 55. I say it's time to stand up. Stand up for our loggers' rights to make a living.''
The bill would direct the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources to conduct a public notification process of timber harvest and sales on state property at least 30 days before a planned sale.
The DNR could provide public notice about the sale on its Web site. The bill originally directed the DNR to do so, but the Senate passed an amendment offered by Johnson that would make it voluntary.
Sen. Leonard Price, DFL-Woodbury, said the legislation is an example of where the public could use the Internet to better inform itself about an important public issue.
''What is it in this language that is so offensive?'' Price asked Johnson. ''Doesn't the public have the right and responsibility to be informed about what's happening to the forest?''
The bill passed the Senate 63-1 and the House 100-31.
About $300 million worth of services and assistance was approved.
''There were a lot of winners,'' said Sen. Don Samuelson, DFL-Brainerd, who co-chaired the committee handling the appropriations bill.
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