SESSION 2015: Where notable issues stand as Legislature ends

Save Story

Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Legislature has adjourned its 2015 session but must wait on Gov. Mark Dayton to decide what sticks.

Here's a look at where many issues stand.


The Republican-led House tried to end state funding for abortions and sought higher licensing standards for clinics. Neither made the final cut.



Barring vetoes and a special session, the next two-year budget will clock in near $42 billion in general fund spending, up more than 5 percent from last one. Lawmakers didn't allocate all of an estimated surplus of nearly $1.9 billion. They left $1 billion to wrangle over next year, with tax cuts and transportation high on the to-do list.



It was watered down after months of backlash, but the Legislature delivered Gov. Mark Dayton a plan to strengthen buffer zones between cropland and public waterways — or at least part of it. The compromise plan generally requires farmers to install 50-foot buffers along public lakes and rivers, with smaller strips along ditches. To wrap it up, Dayton wants to revive two bills with implementation funding in a special session. Neither bill passed before the Legislature adjourned Monday.



Some college students should brace for a tuition hike. Funding for the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system fell short of what they said they needed to extend tuition freezes at all their schools, though some two-year schools may get enough to cut tuition for the next two years.



On July 1, Dayton will decide if his cabinet gets a raise. Lawmakers rolled back prior salary increases he made but gave the governor that one day to revisit compensation. After that, any raises would have to be approved by the Legislature.



The plug was pulled on the Minnesota Lottery's instant-play games sold over the Internet, at gas pumps and through ATMs. A bill restricting the lottery's sales platforms passed by wide margins, and Dayton let it become law without his signature after vetoing a similar attempt last year.



Was this year a win or a loss on the minimum wage? Depends which party you ask. Republicans pushed to allow employers to pay tipped workers a lower hourly wage if tips bring their pay above $12 an hour, but that plan was scuttled. And Gov. Mark Dayton's call to boost wages at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to $10 hourly is on the verge of succeeding.



Democrats and Republicans both wanted changes to the state's health insurance exchange, but MNsure escaped largely unscathed. A push to abolish the exchange's board and make MNsure a full-blown state agency didn't make the cut, nor did Republicans' attempt to get rid of the exchange altogether. The state will instead study the exchange's future.



House Republicans campaigned on getting rural nursing homes more money, so expect them to hold up the 2015 session as a campaign promise delivered. They say an additional $138 million and a revamped funding formula will fix years of shorting facilities in greater Minnesota.



New rules governing use of license-plate readers were passed. Location data from motorist movements can be kept only 60 days unless the information is relevant to a criminal case. Sharing among police agencies is also restricted and audits of plate-reader use will be regular. But lawmakers will wait until next year to set boundaries on body cameras and access to the video data they produce.



It's at the heart of a coming special session fight. Both parties want new investments in early learning, but differ on how they go about it. Republicans — and some Democrats — argue for spending on the children at most risk. But Dayton wants all 4-year-olds to have access to a preschool program at no cost to their parents. How they sort it out will determine how the rest of the public school system is funded, too, since both pots of money are tied together.



House Democrats were quick to criticize Republicans for not putting more money to guard against what they deem an urgent threat: oil trains. The final budget included $5 million to upgrade railroad crossings — far less than a stalled plan that would have hit railroad companies with tax and fee increases to pay for safety fixes.



Owners of a new major-league soccer franchise made a late play for state tax assistance toward a new Minneapolis stadium, and were soundly rejected. And without a tax bill, exemptions sought by Super Bowl organizers also stalled out.



Some beer on Sundays, but that's about it. Lawmakers approved takeaway sales of 64-ounce craft beer growlers on Sundays but said no to a broader repeal of a Prohibition-era ban on liquor sales that day. The Legislature also allowed bars to serve hard liquor before 10 a.m. on Sundays.



Republicans tried to make teacher evaluations play a bigger role when schools have to make staff cuts and ditch a first-in-last-out policy many districts use. The Senate was less receptive to that idea. So it got stripped in the end. There's a chance the topic could arise in special session negotiations.



Pre-session hopes of a major road and bridge deal hit a giant pothole. Lawmakers rallied around the idea of a multibillion dollar package but diverged on where the money should come from. Democrats supported a new type of gas tax to feed an eroding road fund; Republicans wanted to shift existing taxes from other parts of the budget. The impasse means transportation will be a big issue next year — in the session, the election, or both.



Republicans went big — passing more than $2 billion in cuts to income, business and commercial property taxes. But the balloon popped. Senate Democrats refused to advance any tax breaks until a transportation plan got sorted out. They'll try again next year.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Most recent Business stories

Related topics



    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast