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Hormel Institute expansion project a bright spot in 2012 Legislature


Lawmakers approved a $496 million construction borrowing bill. The single-biggest project included in the bill was the planned Hormel Institute expansion (see below).

Child abuse penalties

Austin DFL lawmakers, Rep. Jeanne Poppe and Sen. Dan Sparks, got legislation signed by the governor to toughen criminal penalties for child abuse. The legislation stemmed from the case of a Dexter couple, Brian and Charity Miller, who were convicted of chaining their 5-year-old son to his bed. Mower County prosecutors were only able to charge the parents with a gross misdemeanor. The new law makes it a felony for parents or caregivers to chain, cage, tie, lock up or chain their children leading to "demonstrable bodily harm." Those convicted could face up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.

Hormel Institute expansion


Austin Port Authority's request for $13.5 million to expand the Hormel Institute won bipartisan support this year at the Legislature. Dayton included funding for the project in his bonding proposal, as did the GOP-led House and Senate bonding bills. The plan calls for a 56,000-square-foot addition to the institute that will house 15 state-of-the-art research labs and technology space to support a new cancer research partnership with Mayo Clinic.

Local-government moratoriums

Legislation that would have restricted how long a township, city or county could have imposed a temporary moratorium failed to pass this session. One version of the bill would have limited temporary moratoriums to one year. Minnesota township officials opposed it, worried about efforts to limit local control and how the bill would impact moratoriums on wind projects and silica sand mining operations. Supporters said the bill was needed to level the playing field for farmers, small business owners and others trying to move forward with development projects.

Personal care attendant pay

Legislation delayed a 20-percent pay cut for personal care attendants who care for their relatives with disabilities. Disability advocates lobbied hard to get the pay cut restored. They warned it could force some relatives to quit providing care, making it difficult for their relatives to get the care they need. That cut is delayed until July 1, 2013.

K-12 funding

Republican lawmakers backed a measure that would have tapped the state's budget reserves in order to pay back $430 million owed to K-12 schools. Lawmakers and the governor agreed to borrow money from schools to balance the state budget last year. Dayton vetoed the legislation, saying it would be irresponsible to drain the state's reserves and could lead to the state having to do short-term borrowing in order to pay its bills. The state owes K-12 schools a total of $2.4 billion.



Dayton vetoed a GOP-backed tax bill that included a statewide business property tax freeze, which would have provided $10 million in tax relief. It also included a provision exempting Mayo Medical Laboratories from paying the 2 percent health provider tax on the out-of-state specimens it tests. It would have saved the lab $3.5 million to $4 million per year. It also increased the angel investment tax credits for out-of-state Minnesota. Republicans argued the bill would create more jobs than the bonding bill and Viking stadium combined and provide much-needed tax relief. But Dayton vetoed the measure because it would have worsened the state's deficit by $73 million in the next budget cycle. He said it also offered little tax relief for property owners.

Voter identification

Republican lawmakers backed a proposed constitutional amendment to require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. Minnesota voters will weigh in on the amendment this fall. Constitutional amendments do not need the governor's approval. Supporters say requiring ID will help prevent fraud and restore confidence in the state's election system. Opponents say it could end up disenfranchising voters who lack the proper identification.

Vikings stadium

In the final days of the session, the House and Senate approved plans to build a $975 million Minnesota Vikings stadium. The governor, who lobbied hard for the plan, signed the bill. It request the state to pay $348 million toward the stadium with the money coming from electronic pull-tabs and linked bingo. The Vikings will pay $477 million and the city of Minneapolis' share is $150 million.

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