(Saint Paul, Minnesota)

Transportation: The Minnesota Senate voted Monday to pass their transportation bill, which mirrors Governor Mark Dayton’s plan to spend 11 Billion dollars on roads, bridges, and mass transit.

The 6.5% wholesale gas tax hike has been receiving the most attention as it would put Minnesota in the top five in the nation for fuel taxes.  The Senate bill also includes a 1.5% tax for vehicle registration fees–a 17% increase from the current 1.25%.

Elections: The current version of the Senate Elections Administration Bill includes legislation to allow felons to vote before their sentence is up, and to open voter registration to sixteen year olds. Alpha News spoke with the Ranking Minority Member for the Senate Rules and Administration Subcommittee on Elections, Senator Mary Kiffmeyer, to ask her about the various components of this bill.

Senator Kiffmeyer says, “In this felon’s voting bill, very different, the day you get out of jail you can vote. So a murderer gets out of jail, they can vote. Someone who has stolen a lot of money or committed fraud, securities fraud, they got out of jail, under the language here, they’d be able to vote, without any time to show (that they have changed). And the recidivism rate is close to 40 percent (in other words) of those who get out of jail, they go back to crime, which is really sad, we really wanted to encourage them, and I think expungement gives them hope and encouragement,  but being able to vote right away and other folks who have not broken the rules, their vote can be affected by those who get out of prison that day and they cast their ballot.”

As to whether or not the legislation will or should pass, Senator Kiffmeyer believes it is too one sided, stating, “The Governor has said it has to have bipartisan support, so if anything comes out of these sections it should be those that have that strong bipartisan support. Felons voting, registering sixteen year olds does not, not only in the legislature, but in Minnesotans in the general public as well.”

There is currently no version of this bill in the house, but it has passed through a number of committees in the Senate.

Sunday Sales: The Minnesota House passed the omnibus liquor bill Tuesday, which despite an increased grassroots effort and a number of proposed amendments, did not include lifting the ban on Sunday Liquor Sales. Representatives Jenifer Loon and Steve Drazkowski offered various amendments to move Minnesota closer to Sunday Liquor Sales, both of which, however, were defeated.

Here is a picture of how the House members voted for Representative Loon’s proposed amendment: