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LEGISLATIVE BRIEFS - Do-not-call list

Tired of getting telemarketing calls in the middle of dinner?

A bill passed 65-1 by the Senate Thursday would require the state to maintain a list of Minnesotans who don't want telemarketers to call them.

Telemarketers would be prohibited from calling anyone on the "do not call" list, which people could join free of charge. Marketers would be required to buy the lists each quarter, which would cover the costs of the state-supervised program.

"This puts the burden on the telemarketing companies," said Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul.

A similar bill has been endorsed by the House Ways and Means Committee and is on its way to the floor.

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-- The Associated Press

Government Finance

A bill that reshuffles the executive branch, cutting the number of agencies from 27 to eight, passed the House 76-57 on Thursday.

It represents the remaining piece of the House's plan to balance the budget, which is mostly based on cuts to welfare and health programs and a plan to dip into the anti-tobacco fund.

The government finance bill gets $38 million by spreading cuts across the Legislature and the offices of the attorney general, auditor and the secretary of state. More than half comes from a hiring freeze and cutting consulting contracts.

Despite a lengthy debate, the bill is viewed by most lawmakers as a placeholder until House and Senate leaders can agree one large package.

-- The Associated Press

GOP National Convention

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Twenty-four cities including Minneapolis and St. Paul were asked Tuesday whether they'd be interested in hosting the Republican Party's 2004 national political convention.

Twin Cities officials haven't decided, but seem to be leaning toward "no," partly because they think the Republicans will select New York City as a show of support following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

-- The Associated Press

Bar Hours

Lawmakers, it seems, like last call just the way it is.

The House overwhelmingly rejected two attempts Tuesday to extend bar closing times past the current 1 a.m. limit.

Both votes came on amendments to a broader bill authorizing more liquor licenses for a handful of cities around the state.

Rep. Wes Skoglund, DFL-Minneapolis, led the opposition to both measures.

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"It's going to lead to carnage on the roads," he said. "More booze means more drunks driving. And more drunks driving means more injuries and death."

-- The Associated Press

Contact lenses

New freedom for contact lens wearers is in sight.

The House on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that would prohibit optometrists from withholding contact lens prescriptions from patients who want to buy their lenses elsewhere, including by phone or over the Internet.

The Senate approved the bill a week earlier on a 63-0 vote. It now goes to Gov. Jesse Ventura.

-- The Associated Press

Segway scooter

A bill clearing the way for two-wheeled Segway scooters on Minnesota sidewalks rolled onto Gov. Jesse Ventura's desk Thursday.

The Senate joined the House in approving legislation that would give people on scooters similar rights as pedestrians.

The bill passed 53-4.

Some senators expressed concern over sidewalk collisions. Bill sponsor Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, said the scooter is more controlled than a bicycle.

The Segway -- which travels up to 15 miles per hour -- is a self-balancing, one-person scooter that turns and moves with the help of gyroscopes.

"You stop on a dime by just leaning back," Chaudhary said.

-- The Associated Press

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