Redistricting Maps Are Out

Redistricting maps released by a court panel on Tuesday paired 48 legislators. Paired legislators must decide whether to run against a fellow incumbent, run for an open seat in the other legislative body, move to a new district or retire. In many cases, running against a fellow incumbent means an endorsement battle.

Two sets of DFL senators were paired, as well as four sets of Republican senators. Two Senate districts paired DFL members with Republican members. Districts for the House paired six sets of representatives for each party. Three House districts paired DFL and Republican members. The districts created eight open seats in the Senate and 15 open seats in the House.

House and Senate News

Community notice of sex offender releases becomes law.

The House and the Senate passed HF2394, sponsored by Rep. Lohmer (R-Lake Elmo) and Sen. Ortman (R-Chanhassen). The emergency legislation requires community notification when a person is released from the Minnesota sex offender program to a halfway house. Governor Dayton signed the legislation into law on Thursday.

Senate passes castle doctrine.

The Senate passed HF1467, sponsored by Sen. Hoffman (R-Vergas), which is the Defense of Dwelling and Person Act of 2011. The legislation provides for the justifiable use of deadly force in self-defense and makes a number of changes to the laws relating to firearms, including those on conducting background checks, the operation of transferee permits, the seizure authority of the government and the validity of permits to carry from other states. The bill was opposed by a united front of law enforcement organizations. Opponents said that the legislation increases danger for law enforcement officers and makes it more difficult for county attorneys to prosecute offenders. Supporters said this legislation was necessary as a matter of individual public safety.

The bill passed on a 40-23 vote.

Education: Last In, First Out

Teacher layoffs reform moves forward in the Senate.

Last week, the House passed legislation that permits school boards to base unrequested leave-of-absence and discharge decisions on teacher evaluation outcomes. On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Education heard HF1870, sponsored by Sen. Wolf (R-Spring Lake Park). The Committee passed the bill, which received its second reading in the Senate on Thursday.

Taxes: E-Fairness debate continues in House

The House Taxes Committee heard HF1849, authored by Rep. Davids (R-Preston). His "E-fairness" proposal requires Internet retailers to collect state sales taxes. Commissioner Myron Frans of the Department of Revenue mentioned that Minnesota lost about $400 million in E-commerce sales taxes in 2011. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus tax bill.

Vikings Stadium Updates

Sen. Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes) unveiled a plan to loan the Minnesota Vikings $300 million for a new stadium. The proposal would be financed through a 10 percent tax on tickets, concessions, personal seat licenses, naming rights, stadium signs, TV and media revenue, and stadium rental. The team would be responsible for funding the remaining $700 million. The bill includes a provision that the state commercial and industrial property tax would be phased out by 2022. Governor Dayton stated that the elimination of the tax would burden other property owners with higher property taxes.

The team continues negotiations with the City of Minneapolis and the State regarding a proposal to build a new stadium on the Metrodome site.