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Lawmakers pick up pace

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota legislative pace picked up in recent days, so much so that it felt more like the frenzied end of session.

Senators face an April 2 deadline for approving all of their spending bills. Representatives must pass their spending bills out of finance committees by then, and finish all work on finance bills in April. Lawmakers must wrap up their work by May 21.

This year's main legislative job is to pass a two-year budget.

The schedule, the most aggressive in memory, means major funding bills will be debated nearly every day the Legislature is in session for the next month. On Monday, senators take up a public school funding bill that even its supporters say is inadequate. House leaders plan to announce their school bill that day, too.

Also on Monday, Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, announces his property tax relief bill while Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, announces his public works funding bill.

A statewide smoking ban in work places also will come up for full House and Senate votes soon.

Legislators plan to take off a week starting the afternoon of April 2.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.