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Minnesota News Briefs: SSM bill approved by Minnesota House

The mood in the Minnesota House was different May 23 than a normal last day of session. While there was lots of debate, there was little of the urgency normally felt on the final day. Photo by Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota State House of Representatives voted 75-59 in favor of a same-sex marriage bill today.

House leaders said the measure had enough support for approval at start of debate this morning which proved correct. State Senate leaders hope to decide the fate of the legislation as soon as Monday. Governor Mark Dayton has said he would sign the measure into law if it reaches his desk. Debate took place in the House chamber with lots of security and floor and balcony restrictions inside the chamber.


A new federal report shows Minnesota was number three in the nation for voter turnout in the 2012 election. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Mississippi was number one with 73 percent turnout, Wisconsin was second at 72 percent and Minnesota finished third with about 71 percent. Those Minnesota figures are much lower than the record 76.1-percent turnout confirmed by the State Canvassing Board. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie reported that 2,950,780 Minnesotans cast ballots last November. Ritchie was not immediately available for comment. Minnesota led the U.S. in voter turnout in 2008.


A bill passed in the U.S. House would allow workers to take comp time, or paid time off, rather than overtime pay. Minnesota Congressman John Kline (R-Burnsville), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, says the Working Families Flexibility Act would give workers the choice between being paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours, which is now a federal mandate, or to accept comp time for the extra hours instead. Kline says a lot has changed since the current law went into effect 75 years ago. In 2011, 59 percent of families with children had two working parents, compared to 37 percent 40 years ago. Meanwhile, eight-and-a-half-million workers today are single parents and one in three undergraduate students also works full-time. Kline says the proposal would make it easier on people to juggle the demands of home and work.


An amendment aimed at fighting the spread of Asian carp in Minnesota's waterways passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate today. The Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion act was co-sponsored by Senators Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) and Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth). The measure will enable the federal government to work more effectively with state and local agencies to help fight the Asian carp threat. Franken says the spread of Asian carp in Minnesota's lakes and rivers would prove disastrous for the state's fishing, boating and tourism industries, which support thousands of jobs and contribute billions of dollars to the state's economy.


A bill passed in the Minnesota House would make changes to the state's election system that are meant to get more people to vote, make it more convenient for them, and increase the integrity of the election process. Chief author DFL Representative Steve Simon says it would allow anyone eligible to vote to cast an absentee ballot without having to provide an excuse. He says people lead busy full lives and they should be able to vote absentee for reasons of convenience and not have to certify or take some sort of blood oath that they're going to be gone. The bill also changes the way an election is handled if a candidate already on the ballot dies before Election Day. Simon says that election would be halted and a special election would be held 91 days after it was originally scheduled.


A Cloquet woman is dead after a one-vehicle crash last night on Interstate 35 in Chisago County. The State Patrol says 54-year-old Julie Koen was ejected from a pickup that lost control and rolled into the center median. Koen died at the scene. The teenage driver and another passenger suffered non-life threatening injuries. The roadway was wet at the time of the crash.