Governor vetoes fireworks
Minnesotans will not be able to legally buy and use more powerful fireworks.
Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the bill Saturday night, saying it was “probably the toughest decision I have had to make.” In a letter to legislators, he said that while most Minnesotans are responsible, “some are not.”
“It is the government’s foremost responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of its citizens,” Dayton wrote. He added: “Sometimes, it requires laws to protect people from themselves.”
The bill would have allowed more powerful fireworks, including those that shoot into the air.
Fees, wolf hunt pass
A bill allowing for a wolf hunting season and raising hunting and fishing license fees was approved 68-62 in the House and 34-28 in the Senate Saturday night. The bill included a number of other outdoors- and environment-related provisions.
Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, said she was concerned about the wolf hunting season established in the bill. She said the animal was just taken off the endangered species list and more consideration should be given to the issue.
Sen. John Carlson, R-Bemidji, said the plan is reasonable, limiting the take at 400 wolves. About 4,000 wolves are in Minnesota.
The fee increases were added when the House and Senate combined separate versions of their bills, although some House members had issues with the addition. :We never got to vote on this on the House floor,” Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, said.
Sixty outdoors groups asked for the fee increases because a Department of Natural Resources fund that collects the funds could soon be broke.
But Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, said the DNR did not prove it needed the funds. “The people of Minnesota in my district are not asking for these fee increases,” he said.
The bill now heads to the governor.
Speaker, read this
Sometimes, it appears Democrats and Republicans cannot talk to each other. The Minnesota Legislature’s top two Democrats joined Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton Saturday to ask House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, to take up the Vikings stadium bill right away in the full House.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he was ready to commit 34 Democratic votes to pass the measure.
Have you told that to Zellers, a reporter asked. “I’m telling him now,” the minority leader said, looking at a roomful of reporters.
Senate alters tenure
The Minnesota Senate approved a plan 35-28 that would eliminate seniority as the only standard for teacher layoffs.
“Ending seniority-based layoff will help our schools keep their best teachers in the classroom,” Sen. Pam Wolf, R-Spring Lake Park, said. “This legislation will say ‘you matter more than just when you signed your contracts.’”
The bill proposes, instead, to rely on teacher evaluations.
Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, wondered why a bill needed to be passed now without those standards in place. He also worried the change would allow administrators to “balance the budget on the backs of senior teachers” whose salaries are higher.
“This bill has no guarantee of keeping the best teachers in the classroom,” Sen. Dave Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, said.
The bill was approved 70-61 in the House and is headed to Gov. Mark Dayton, who is expected to veto it.
Stadium talk brings many emails
Lawmakers apparently have been hearing from people not only across Minnesota but throughout the world on a potential new Vikings stadium. Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said he checked his email one morning and had received 987 messages overnight, most about the stadium. He has heard from people as far away as Australia on the project being debated at the state Legislature.
“It is helping,” Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, told stadium supporters rallying at the Capitol on Saturday of their efforts contacting lawmakers.
“Thanks for all the emails,” Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, said as he shook ralliers’ hands.
— Compiled by Don Davis and Danielle Nordine, Capitol bureau