News May 24 – 30

Elections: The National Conference of State Legislators says Minnesota’s election system is a rightful source of pride. Turnout is consistently the highest in the nation, and the North Star State recently received high marks from the Elections Performance Index, a tool designed by the Pew Charitable Trusts to encourage election improvements at the state level. LINK

Lake Elmo: Last week local and state officials celebrated the passage of legislation that will award the city of Lake Elmo $3.5 million in state bonding to build a 2 1/2-mile water main line down Inwood Avenue to the Interstate 94 corridor. LINK

Medical Cannabis: Gov. Mark Dayton signed the medical marijuana bill today, putting the final stamp on a compromise that opens the door to use of the drug for about 5,000 patients. LINK

Beagle Freedom: With Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to enact a law giving dogs and cats used in laboratory testing the opportunity to be adopted once research is complete. LINK

Stem Cell Research: It takes $750,000 to $1 million to fund a research team, so he expects the appropriation to bankroll three to four proposals initially. LINK

Broadband: Lawmakers have put $20 million toward boosting Internet service in parts of the state where it’s unavailable or frustratingly slow. That’s far less than the $100 million first proposed. But a $20 million down payment is a great start, said Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing. It’s going to signal that we’re serious about this. LINK

Recycling: The first major update of Minnesota’s solid waste law in 25 years is designed to boost the state’s long-stagnant 46 percent recycling rate. More than half of companies in the metropolitan area send their garbage to the dump rather than pulling out such valuable materials as aluminum, cardboard, plastic and steel, according to a survey of 3,600 businesses by Waste Management Minnesota. LINK

Cancer: The Hormel Institute, a cancer-research facility in Austin, Minn., will nearly double in size after a major expansion that starts today. LINK

Data Practices: Known as the Timberjay bill, the law requires all government contracts include notice that the requirements of the Minnesota Data Practices Act to private businesses, even when the notice is not included in the contract. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers and was in response to an open records battle closely watched by freedom of information advocates. LINK

2014 Session: “Having completed a full biennium as a first-term State Senator I’m so proud of the work we’ve accomplished. In particular, I’m thrilled the bonding bill includes significant dollars that are headed to Champlin, Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids as well as the entire Northwest Suburbs,” said Senator John Hoffman. “These are important projects that will improve the quality of life in our communities.” LINK

Taxes: “There is a good balance of tax relief for everyone in this second tax bill, especially direct property relief for individuals, renters, businesses and our agriculture community,” said Senator Rod Skoe. “But it takes more than just cutting taxes to grow our economy, and that’s why our tax relief package also invests in new workforce housing, protecting our lakes and streams from aquatic invasive species, and new efficiencies for state and local governments.” LINK

St. Paul: “The Legislature gave close to half of that surplus back in the form of tax credits and property tax relief for more than two million Minnesotans,” said Senator Foung Hawj. “The news is particularly good if you are married, receiving the Working Family Tax Credit or if you are paying student loans or tuition. More money in the pockets of my constituents to spend in our local economy is a good thing.” LINK

Women’s Economic Security Act: “The goal of the legislative reforms known as the Women’s Economic Security Act is to provide equal opportunities and pay for women who comprise half of the state’s workforce,” said Senator Sandy Pappas. “While numerous gains have been made at various levels of government in this respect, inequities remain for working women in Minnesotaand we hope to change that.” LINK

Growlers: “I’m happy to announce the Governor has signed the Omnibus Liquor bill into law on May 13, making the Sunday tap rooms and growler refill provisions effective immediately,” said Senator Roger Reinert. “While there remains much more work to be done in Minnesota on the Sunday Sales issue, these small provisions are a step in the right direction and will lead to greater economic opportunity for our booming craft brew industry.” LINK

Small Cities Development Grants: The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has awarded five communities across Northwest Minnesota a Small Cities Development Program grant. “These grants represent a second chance for many small communities that just don’t have access to this kind of financing. The rehabilitation of housing stock in these small towns is particularly beneficial to our area – which for a long time has suffered from a lack of affordable housing,” said Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL-Plummer). He added, “Many small communities across Greater Minnesota need this jump-start to make infrastructure improvements, and these DEED grant programs can represent that ticket to making repairs.” LINK

Senate DFL