Legislative Notebook: Minnesotans Could Vote In June

Minnesotans could cast primary election ballots in June two years from now after just two years of August voting.

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, switched her vote as voting ended Wednesday to give the proposal a 66-65 win in the full House. It is contained in a broader elections bill that passed 78-51.

“You are going to be voting for lawn signs in April and May,” Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, warned fellow lawmakers.

However, Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, won the day with arguments that the June date would be at a time when more Minnesotans are at home.

Legislators moved the date from September to August beginning in 2010 to allow time for military and other overseas votes to be counted before the November general election.

The Daudt proposal would establish the primary date as the first Tuesday following the third Monday in June.

The overall election bill returns to the Senate, where a different version of the bill passed.

Invasive funding included

Invasive species such as Asian carp are being fought in a bill representatives passed Wednesday 101-28.

Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said the $11 million to battle invasive species is one of the most significant parts of the bill that spends more than $100 million in sales tax money voters approved in 2008 for the outdoors, cultural heritage and arts.

Overall, $97 million would go to outdoors projects, $6.4 million to clean water and $1.7 million to arts and culture projects.

House members rejected an effort to divert $30 million of the funds each of the next seven years to restore the state Capitol building. Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said such a plan would end up costing the state more than funding it all at once as he proposes in a $221 million bill awaiting House debate.

The bill includes funds to buy 7,400 acres of land, which upset Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa. The state already owns nearly a quarter of the state’s land, he said.

Senate bills have similar provisions to the Urdahl measure.

More alternatives

Pregnant Minnesotans will have more options under a law Gov. Mark Dayton signed Wednesday.

The bill expands the existing Positive Alternatives law to give pregnant women more options for medical attention, nutritional services, housing assistance, adoption services, education and employment assistance.

The $2.4 million annual cost program served 25,000 women in its first four years.

Soil and slime

Senators voted Wednesday to make Lester as the state soil and to order labels on beef containing “pink slime.”

The so-called pink slime has been in the news the past month over questions about its safety. It is beef scraps sometimes used in ground meat.

The proposal was approved 45-10

On a voice vote, senators approved a proposal by Sen. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista, to make Lester the state soil.

Lester is found in several south-central Minnesota counties where wooded vegetation has been removed and the land now is used for farming.