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Governor says 'chickens' oppose unicameral bill

Legislators who voted against a single-house legislature proposal are "chickens," Gov. Jesse Ventura said on his Friday radio show. "Here on the farm in St. Paul, we have a variety of animals," Ventura said.

Jesse Ventura

Legislators who voted against a single-house legislature proposal are "chickens," Gov. Jesse Ventura said on his Friday radio show.

"Here on the farm in St. Paul, we have a variety of animals," Ventura said. "We have chickens, we have eagles and we have pork roaming around."

Chickens, he said, are Republican representatives like Jerry Dempsey of Red Wing, Tim Finseth of Angus, Mike Osskopp of Pine Island, Doug Fuller of Bemidji and Bob Ness of Dassel, "who won't take it to a floor vote."

The House sent the unicameral measure back to committee 72-58, likely killing it for the session. The bill would have given Minnesota voters a chance to change the state Constitution in November to switch to a one-house system.

Ventura promised to use his weekly radio show the rest of the year to remind voters about lawmakers who defeated the measure.

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The governor said defeating unicameral is a plot against him: "They don't want unicameral on the ballot this fall because they know it will bring out more Jesse Ventura voters."

Ventura has not said whether he will seek a second term.

Dentists welcome

Fargo dentists will be able to serve patients at a Moorhead clinic for the poor under a bill Ventura signed this week.

The bill, pushed by Rep. Kevin Goodno, R-Moorhead, allows dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants licensed in neighboring states to practice in Minnesota. Moorhead apparently has the only clinic to be affected by the new law.

Information limited

The public safety commissioner may withhold personal information from driver's license and motor vehicle records under a new law.

The commissioner would have to decide the data is being requested for illegal or improper uses under the bill.

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Contract meeting

Union officials representing state employees are preparing to meet Tuesday -- the day after the Legislature adjourns -- to sign new wage and benefit agreements with the state, including insurance coverage for same-sex partners of state employees.

The unions and state officials don't expect the House to ratify temporary contracts now in force because of the same-sex coverage.

Bioterrorism bill dies

A bill outlining state emergency health procedures during a bioterrorism attack was sent back to committee by the House, likely killing the bill for the year.

"I hope to God there's no bioterrorism event in this state because we're woefully unprepared," said Rep. Richard Mulder, R-Ivanhoe. "I'm afraid for the families of this state."

Mulder had joined DFLers and the Ventura administration to clarify existing rules on quarantine and property seizure to meet possible new health threats.

Their efforts were thwarted by complaints that the bill could allow abuse of executive power in situations far short of a bioterror emergency.

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"I'm not voting for anything that allows the governor to take away my gun during a civil disturbance," said Rep. Mike Osskopp, R-Lake City.

Don't call

Minnesotans should be able to add their numbers to a state no-call list by late summer.

Gov. Jesse Ventura signed a bill aimed at reducing telemarketing calls. The bill requires telemarketers to buy updated do-not-call lists, maintained by the Department of Commerce, four times a year.

Minnesota is joining 26 other states with similar laws.

As of 2003, if businesses don't abide by the list, they can be fined $1,000 per violation.

10th override

The Senate voted 59-0 and the House voted 101-24 Thursday to override a veto by Gov. Jesse Ventura on a bill extending a surcharge on certain real estate transactions.

The 50-cent fee is helping fund a task force and pilot projects that aim to establish an electronic real estate filing system in Minnesota.

The task force hasn't completed its work. The bill pushes out its completion date from June 2003 to June 2004.

Ventura, of the Independence Party, has been overriden four times this year and 10 times since taking office in 1999.

Interest, please

The Legislature passed a bill late Wednesday that modifies the tax reciprocity agreement between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The bill, among other things, requires Wisconsin to pay interest on income taxes collected under the reciprocity agreement. The move would net Minnesota about $4 million a year.

If Wisconsin doesn't agree to pay, Minnesota will nullify the entire reciprocity agreement.

Under reciprocity, people who cross the state line to work pay income taxes in their home state, which then reimburses the other state.

Cheaper bread

A tax bill passed by the Legislature will restore tax-exempt status to baked goods and deli meats, costing the state millions in revenue while recouping that money in other areas.

While it was not a large bill, it provided a key element to the larger budget-balancing deal passed earlier Wednesday. The acceleration of a business sales tax that had been scheduled to expire will instead be extended, netting the state an extra $25 million to help balance the budget.

The taxes on baked goods and deli meats were seen as unintended consequences of last year's tax overhaul. The idea was that bread prepared on site would be taxed, as are other prepared foods.

But pricey artisan breads and freshly made bakery doughnuts were taxed while prepackaged loaves of Wonder Bread and boxed doughnuts just off the truck were not.

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