This special section catalogs articles about the issues and legislation being debated in the 2005 session of the Minnesota Legislature.

To track specific bills, contact lawmakers and more, go to the Legislature’s website, www.leg.state.mn.us

Legislature and Governor agree on “lights on” funding bill
By Steve Katz, Special to Workday Minnesota ? July 9, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The Minnesota Legislature passed a short-term funding bill, good until Thursday, July 14. Governor Pawlenty signed the bill. AFSCME Council 5 has requested that all furloughed employees return to work for their next regularly scheduled shift.

State employees rally to demand end to shutdown
By Steve Katz, special to Workday Minnesota ? July 6, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The two largest state employee unions MAPE and AFSCME, and representatives of several other unions held a rally in the Capitol rotunda Wednesday, the sixth day of the partial state government shutdown. Union members held signs saying: “We’re All Critical,” “We Want to Work,” and “Shutdown = Failure.”

Rally Wednesday to protest state government shutdown
July 4, 2005
ST. PAUL ? “Get the Job Done!” will be the theme of a rally Wednesday, July 6, at 1:30 p.m. at the state Capitol, as the partial shutdown of state government continues.

Governor, legislative leaders acting irresponsibly in shutdown, unions charge
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? July 1, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Union leaders blasted Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders Thursday night for refusing to stop a partial government shutdown that has thrown more than 9,200 state employees out of work and is jeopardizing services supplied not only by the state, but also by counties and hundreds of nonprofits under state contracts.

‘Get the job done,’ state workers urge lawmakers
June 30, 2005
ST. PAUL ? With only hours remaining before a possible state government shutdown Thursday night, state workers and others held a candlelight vigil on the steps of the state Capitol.

State worker layoffs are only the beginning
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? June 30, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Based on lists drawn up by unfunded state agencies, roughly 9,200 state workers are classified as providing “non-critical, non-core” services, meaning they are now out of work. Most agencies are reduced to skeleton staffs, even in such areas as public health, workplace safety, and licensing and inspections.

Pressure builds to avert state shutdown
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? June 28, 2005
ST. PAUL ? As the clock ticks down to a partial shutdown of Minnesota state government, state employees, religious leaders and other citizens urged Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislators to reach a reasonable budget compromise.

Supporters hold out hope for DREAM Act
June 7, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Supporters of the DREAM Act rallied Sunday at the state Capitol, urging lawmakers to make a last-ditch effort to save the legislation during the current special session.

Contract talks for state workers bog down
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? June 7, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The budget stalemate at the Capitol is bringing contract negotiations between the Pawlenty administration and state employee unions to a crawl.

16,000 state workers face layoffs if government shuts down
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? June 6, 2005
ST. PAUL ? As many as 16,000 state employees could be out of work July 1 if Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Legislature fail to reach a budget settlement, forcing a partial government shutdown.

State budget bust a growing possibility
June 6, 2005
ST. PAUL ? State lawmakers are back at the Capitol for Week 3 of a special session to work out a two-year budget. The deadline is the end of the month, and there’s lots of heavy-lifting left.

Lawmakers begin second week of special session
May 31, 2005
ST. PAUL ? State lawmakers are back at the Capitol for the second week of their special session. On the table are how to fill a $466 million budget deficit and agree on a two-year, $30 billion spending plan.

Minnesota Senate denounces CAFTA
May 25, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The Minnesota Senate passed a resolution opposing the passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and urging Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to vote against the trade deal.

Hundreds support DREAM Act, blast governor
May 23, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Five hundred members of the immigrant community and their allies turned out at the Capitol Sunday to express outrage at Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s decision to remove the DREAM Act from the higher education omnibus bill.

‘Minnesota’s Watching’ seeks fair, open solution to budget crisis
May 23, 2005
ST. PAUL ? As the hours ticked down to the end of the 2005 regular legislative session, members of “Minnesota’s Watching” called on Gov. Pawlenty and lawmakers to seek fair and open solutions to the state’s budget crisis.

DREAM Act legislation pulled; advocates plan Sunday demonstration
May 20, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Legislation that would have improved educational opportunities for immigrant students has been withdrawn at the state Capitol, but advocates say they are not giving up and plan a demonstration Sunday in support of the DREAM Act.

Families could be hit with more cuts in child care funding
May 20, 2005
ST. PAUL ? It could be a long weekend at the State Capitol. With an adjournment deadline of 7 a.m. Tuesday, lawmakers are trying to reach agreement on key issues, including taxes, transportation, stadiums and human services.

Surcharge barely nicks millionaires, study shows
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? May 18, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Even if Minnesota levies a tax surcharge on its richest residents, millionaires and others in the top 1 percent still get to keep more than 70 percent of the state and federal tax cuts they now enjoy, according to analysis released Wednesday by Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice.

Unions support Twins ballpark, urge state approval
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor ? May 18, 2005
MINNEAPOLIS ? Baseball fans, business leaders, and union leaders gave support to Hennepin County’s plan for a new Twins ballpark this month and then took their case to the Minnesota Legislature.

Make taxes part of a reasonable solution, coalition urges
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? May 11, 2005
ST PAUL ? Raising taxes is a necessary and reasonable part of fixing Minnesota?s budget problems, members of the Minnesota is Watching coalition said Wednesday.

Senate budget plan focuses on fair taxation
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? May 10, 2005
ST. PAUL ? A Minnesota Senate plan would salvage state funding for education, health care and other vital services by closing a key corporate tax loophole and creating a tax surcharge on the state’s 42,000 wealthiest residents.

Wonder why property taxes keep rising? Ask the state
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? May 8, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Don’t blame higher property taxes on your school district, your city council or your county board, Jeff Van Wychen says; the real reason your property taxes are going up is the state.

Broad coalition wins increase in minimum wage
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? May 4, 2005
ST. PAUL ? From citizens speaking out at community meetings to groups rallying at the state Capitol, a broad coalition won a minimum wage increase for thousands of Minnesota workers.

Citizens speak out through ‘Minnesota’s Watching’
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? May 4, 2005
ST. PAUL ? If James White had his way, the phrases “blue state” and “red state” and “liberal” and “conservative” would be banned from the legislative vocabulary. He’s one of many Minnesotans attending legislative meetings and talking with lawmakers as part of “Minnesota’s Watching.”

It?s a matter of dollars, sense and principles at the Capitol
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? April 28, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The battle at the Capitol is really over priorities and principles, unions say, as Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Legislature craft Minnesota’s spending plans for the next two years.

Citizens monitor Legislature through ‘Minnesota’s Watching’
April 27, 2005
ST. PAUL ? How can ordinary Minnesotans make sure lawmakers are listening to their concerns? Unions and many other organizations are involved in a unique effort called “Minnesota’s Watching,” that brings workers directly to the state Capitol.

State’s rich have lower tax rates, study shows
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? April 25, 2005
ST. PAUL ? A new state study confirms what you probably already suspect: You pay more of your income in state and local taxes than the state’s wealthiest residents pay.

Minnesota groups step up pressure against CAFTA
April 22, 2005
ST. PAUL ? In a rally at the state Capitol and a protest outside U.S. Senator Norm Coleman’s Minnesota office, labor and environmental groups Thursday voiced their opposition to CAFTA, the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement. They called on elected officials to invest in good jobs and a clean environment.

Blue Green Alliance presses for good jobs, clean environment
April 20, 2005
ST. PAUL ? On the eve of Earth Day, the Blue Green Alliance will press the Minnesota Legislature to act for good jobs and a clean environment. Activities include a rally at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in the Capitol Rotunda.

State lawmakers say ‘Leave Social Security alone’
April 15, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Resolutions have been introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate calling on Congress not to tinker with Social Security.

Coalition returns to fight Pawlenty’s health-care cuts
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? April 14, 2005
MINNEAPOLIS ? Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s plan to eliminate MinnesotaCare coverage for 47,000 workers is an unnecessary gamble that threatens their lives, the public’s health, and will raise rather than reduce health insurance costs in the state, leaders of a revived health-care coalition said Wednesday.

Some MinnesotaCare enrollees face life-and-death situation
By Michael Kuchta, St. Paul Union Advocate editor ? April 14, 2005
MINNEAPOLIS ? “If I croak, it’s going to be right in the doorway of Tim Pawlenty’s office,” Lona DeCarlo says. DeCarlo, of Oakdale, is one of the 47,000 people likely to lose eligibility for MinnesotaCare under the governor’s budget proposal.

As state legislators look on, Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a state bonding bill April 11. The measure funds $945 million in various construction projects, ranging from roads and school buildings to the Northstar commuter rail line. Unions were among the organizations that supported the bonding bill, both to create jobs and provide needed infrastructure improvements.

Photo by Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review

House Committee approves increase in minimum wage
April 7, 2005
ST. PAUL ? A Minnesota House committee has approved an increase in the minimum wage, sending the legislation to the House floor.

Some unions throw support to governor’s casino proposals
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? April 7, 2005
ST. PAUL ? At least three labor organizations are supporting Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s controversial plan for a state-supported casino.

Diverse group rallies for more transportation funding
By Mike Heffron, Workday Minnesota intern ? April 6, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Over 350 union members, public transit supporters, business leaders and politicians gathered on the lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol Wednesday to call for increased state transportation funding.

Legislation would create a statewide ‘living wage’
April 4, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Senator John Marty, DFL-Roseville, introduced a bill Monday that requires all Minnesota employers to pay a “living wage.” Those that don’t would be subject to “a low-wage compensation surtax” on the difference between actual worker wages and the defined living wage.

House may act Wednesday on minimum wage
April 4, 2005
ST. PAUL ? For the first time this session, a Minnesota House committee will consider legislation raising the state’s minimum wage. Ever since the Minnesota Senate voted Feb. 3 to approve an increase, pressure has been building on House members to act.

SEIU Lobby Day brings a message to the halls of power
By Mike Heffron, Workday Minnesota intern ? April 1, 2005
ST. PAUL ? At SEIU’s Lobby Day, members meet firsthand with the elected officials where they work or live, and tell them, face to face, the issues that concern them ? and why.

Bill adds accountability to privatization decisions
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? April 1, 2005
ST. PAUL ? State and local government agencies attempting to outsource a public service would have to demonstrate genuine cost savings and meet new standards, under legislation that moved to the floor of the Minnesota Senate Wednesday.

HCMC union opposes new governance legislation
March 31, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The union representing many employees at Hennepin County Medical Center is mobilizing opposition to legislation that would create a public corporation to operate the hospital. The measure gets its first hearing Friday morning in the Minnesota Senate.

Trying to make sense of jobs figures?
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? March 30, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Is the glass half empty or half full? That’s pretty much what it’s like trying to figure out how well, or how poorly, the state and nation are doing at creating new jobs.

In setting budget, legislators face questions of money and morality
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? March 30, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Should morality play a role in state budget decisions? During its 2005 session, the Minnesota Legislature is directly confronting this question.

Educators’ union seeks statewide pool to control insurance costs
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? March 27, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Among the many tactics unions are pursuing to reduce costs and improve access to health insurance for their members, one of the boldest is a proposal by Education Minnesota to create a single, statewide insurance pool for all 343 Minnesota school districts.

Unions fear bill would open Pandora’s box
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? March 21, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Legislation that unions say would let local units of government “opt out” of state requirements on collective bargaining, prevailing wages, pay equity and unemployment insurance has passed a Minnesota House committee.

Bill targets unscrupulous contractors
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? March 18, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced legislation that targets employers who cheat the state and their workers by deliberately misclassifying workers as self-employed, independent contractors rather than as employees.

Public employees tell lawmakers, ‘No more Band-Aids’
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? March 16, 2005
ST. PAUL ? More than 1,000 members of AFSCME rallied at the state Capitol Wednesday and met with legislators to send the message: “No more Band-Aids!” The occasion was the annual “Day on the Hill” for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest public employee union in Minnesota, representing more than 52,000 workers.

Immigrant students say tuition legislation would fulfill a dream
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? March 16, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Oscar Gomez, a junior at Bethlehem Academy in Faribault, would like to attend the University of Minnesota to pursue a career in medicine. But faced with the prospect of paying expensive, out-of-state tuition, his options are limited. Legislation, dubbed the “Dream Act,” would enable young people like Oscar to pay resident tuition at all higher education institutions in Minnesota.

Health insurance disclosure bill advances in Senate
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? March 11, 2005
ST. PAUL ? A state Senate committee Tuesday advanced legislation that would require Minnesota to track and reveal the names of employers who freeload off taxpayers by letting their workers rely on public medical care for their health coverage.

Stop health-care cuts, nurses union says
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? March 6, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Governor Tim Pawlenty’s plan to eliminate state health insurance for 40,000 additional Minnesota workers is short-sighted and mean-spirited, health-care activists told the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Bills would expose companies that freeload on health care
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? March 1, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Proposed legislation would, for the first time, require Minnesota to track which employers are freeloading off state taxpayers by letting their workers rely on Minnesota Care and other public health coverage.

State budget forecast improves slightly
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? February 28, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Better-than-expected revenue will shrink Minnesota’s 2006-’07 budget deficit by $234 million, but not come close to wiping the deficit out, the Finance Department projected Monday.

Large crowd at Capitol to support public schools
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? February 28, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Students, parents, teachers and other concerned citizens arrived by school bus, car and on foot for the massive rally ? one of the largest ever to support public education.

Rally Monday for public school funding
February 26, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The Alliance for Student Achievement, a coalition of several organizations including Education Minnesota, will hold a “Statewide Rally for Public School Funding” Monday, Feb. 28, at the state Capitol.

Union members, environmentalists lobby for common agenda
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor ? February 22, 2005
ST. PAUL ? In a lobbying effort signaling new unity between organized labor and the environmental movement, about 100 state legislators received office visits from union members and environmentalists speaking on a common agenda.

Student performance depends on adequate funding, teachers say
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? February 17, 2005
ST. PAUL ? You can’t separate school funding from student performance, a reality the governor and Legislature need to recognize as they continue their budget debate, Education Minnesota president Judy Schaubach said.

Workers’ representative chosen for U Board of Regents
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? February 16, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The Minnesota Legislature, meeting in joint session Wednesday, named Minnesota AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Steve Hunter and three others to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

Corporate loopholes aren?t such a sweet deal, union says
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? February 15, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Minnesota could force school children to sell more candy bars. Or, the state could get serious and finally close corporate tax loopholes that leech billions of dollars from the state and its schools, Service Employees International Union Local 284 argued Tuesday.

Blue-Green Alliance to hold Citizen Lobbying Day Feb. 17
February 8, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition of unions and environmental groups seeking new approaches to jobs and the environment, will hold a Citizen Lobbying Day Thursday, Feb. 17, at the state Capitol.

Two union members among regent candidates
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? February 4, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Two union members are among the nine finalists for four seats on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

Minnesota Senate votes to raise minimum wage
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? February 3, 2005
ST. PAUL ? With bipartisan support, the Minnesota Senate Thursday voted to raise the state’s minimum wage, putting pressure on the House and Gov. Tim Pawlenty to act.

Legislation would help immigrant students
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? January 31, 2005
ST. PAUL ? For Anna Vite and Araceli Vazquez, the hope of going to college moved one step closer to reality Monday. That’s when an unusual, bipartisan coalition of state legislators introduced a Minnesota version of “The Dream Act,” which would make a college education more affordable and more attainable for students in their situation.

Faith leaders decry proposed health care cuts
January 31, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Leaders of faith organizations spoke out at the state Capitol Monday against Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s plan to cut more than 30,000 people from the state health care program.

Session begins with new balance of power
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor ? January 26, 2005
ST. PAUL ? The November 2004 elections trimmed the lopsided 29-seat Republican majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives to only two seats. In the minds of many legislators and political observers, voters sent a clear message.

Minnesota AFL-CIO sets legislative priorities
January 26, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Saying “Minnesota’s unions are committed to building strong communities across our state,” Minnesota AFL-CIO President Ray Waldron announced the labor federation’s 2005 state legislative goals.

Governor’s budget falls short in several areas, critics say
January 26, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Governor Tim Pawlenty’s plan to balance the state’s books over the next two years falls short in several areas, including education, child care and health care, labor leaders and others say.

Labor working in coalition with nonprofits, faith groups, environmentalists
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor ? January 26, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Labor will be working in several coalitions this year at the Minnesota Legislature, said Brad Lehto, Minnesota AFL-CIO legislative director.

State Senate committee approves higher minimum wage
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota editor ? January 26, 2005
ST. PAUL ? A state Senate committee Wednesday approved legislation that would raise the minimum wage in Minnesota to $7 an hour by July 1, 2006. The measure now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

Bishops call for ‘equitable’ income tax increase
January 12, 2005
ST. PAUL ? As the 2005 session of the state Legislature gets under way, Minnesota Bishops have issued a statement calling for “fair and equitable” income tax increases to provide for the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

Union members to discuss their experiences as elected officials
January 12, 2005
ST. PAUL ? Union members who are also elected officials will discuss their goals and experiences at the monthly St. Paul Labor Speakers Club program Jan. 24 in St. Paul.

Council of Nonprofits to host preview of legislative session
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor ? January 3, 2005
ST. PAUL ? If you?d like to learn first-hand what legislative leaders plan for the 2005 session of the Minnesota Legislature, mark your calendar for Jan. 7 for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ “Session Line Up.” The annual event features House and Senate leaders presenting their priorities and a chance to ask questions.

HCMC governance change moves forward; legislative fight ahead
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor ? December 14, 2004
MINNEAPOLIS ? The Hennepin County Board, meeting Tuesday, approved and sent to the state Legislature a proposal to establish a “public benefit corporation” to take over direct management of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC).

State budget deficit gets worse in future
By Michael Kuchta, Union Advocate editor ? December 2, 2004
ST. PAUL ? Minnesota expects to finish this fiscal year with a budget surplus, but will face a $700 million deficit in its next budget ? a deficit that could grow to $1.375 billion once inflation is factored in, the state Finance Department announced Dec. 1.

Keep all budget options open, coalition urges
December 1, 2004
ST. PAUL ? Minnesota is Watching, the coalition of faith-based, labor and nonprofit organizations responded quickly Wednesday to the news of the state?s continuing budget deficit.

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