Falk, Koenen see legislative session as successful

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by Reed Anfinson, Editor

As they headed to the state Capitol in January, Rep. Andrew Falk and Sen. Lyle Koenen found themselves in the majority party with a governor who was also a Democrat.

In the November election, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party won back control of the House and Senate from the Republicans. With Gov. Mark Dayton halfway into his four-year term, the DFL had an opportunity to set the agenda. It was the first time since 1990 that the Democrats controlled both houses of the state Capitol with one of their own in the governor’s office.

But despite their majority rule, not all of what was on the DFL leadership agenda got through the Legislature. A minimum wage increase, a bill with more strict bullying provisions, and added gun control measures didn’t pass. However, all three are likely to end up on the legislative docket in 2014.

Still, major legislation for increased spending on education and economic development passed. A measure to ease property taxes was approved. A bill to legalize same-sex marriage passed the House and Senate, and was signed by the governor. Taxes were raised on the richest 2 percent of income earners in Minnesota and smokers will be paying an additional $1.60 for a pack of cigarettes. Some corporate tax “loopholes” were also closed.

When all the debating was over, all the amendments added or rejected, the Legislature passed $2.1 billion in tax increases to pay for its priorities and eliminate a projected $627 million deficit.

 

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