Minnesota lawmakers kick off their 2013 session and some DFLers are promising to introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage; a health insurance exchange is also on the agenda. The need to repair aging municipal water systems is gaining attention. And what happened to Minnesota's once enviable recycling habits?
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: The hard-fought battle over same-sex marriage that dominated Minnesota politics last year is likely to continue during the legislative session that begins today. With the defeat of the marriage amendment and the Republican majorities that sponsored it, DFLers who favor marriage rights for same-sex couples see their opening. But opponents say the amendment's does not necessarily mean support for same-sex marriage.
HEALTH INSURANCE: State lawmakers are under a tight deadline as they tackle a number of issues related to the federal health care overhaul, including passing legislation to set up a health insurance exchange, the fate of MinnesotaCare and an expansion of Medicaid.
HEALTH COSTS: Meanwhile, Americans kept health care spending in check for three years in a row, the government reported Monday, an unusual respite that could linger if the economy stays soft or fade like a mirage if job growth comes roaring back.
RECYCLING: As the Legislature begins a new session, Minnesota's stagnant recycling rates are likely to be a target of new laws, and not just because recycling is good for the environment. It's become an integral part of a growing economic engine in the state, and experts say people are throwing away resources that those businesses need.
Also on the agenda:
BUDGET: Democrats are running the whole show for the first time in 25 years. That means DFL Gov. Mark Dayton gets to work with a DFL-controlled House and Senate that should be more receptive to his tax and spending proposals.
TRANSPARENCY: All state lawmakers who take office Tuesday are required to file an economic disclosure statement outlining the sources of their income outside of the Legislature. But an MPR News analysis of the disclosures by current and incoming lawmakers finds that the forms provide little information that could alert the public to potential conflicts of interest.
Elsewhere on the site:
RUNNING WATER: In many Minnesota cities, water systems are aging and in need of replacement. Recent major water main breaks in Minneapolis and Duluth have highlighted the massive labyrinth of underground pipes that delivers water to homes and businesses, and their deterioration. Cost of repair? About $6 billion.
SCHOOL SAFETY: Sen. Al Franken met with school officials Monday in Eagan to discuss school safety, three weeks after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The conversation ranged from school security to better monitoring the mental health of students to prevent future violence.
GABBY GIFFORDS WANTS GUN CONTROL: Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband launched a political action committee aimed at curbing gun violence on Tuesday, the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting that killed six people and left her critically injured.
OBAMA KEEPS EYE ON GUN VIOLENCE DEBATE: Facing an end-of-the-month deadline, the Obama administration is calling gun owner groups, victims' organizations and representatives from the video-game industry to the White House this week for discussions on potential policy proposals for curbing gun violence.
OBAMA DIGS IN: President Barack Obama riled Senate Republicans and some Democrats, too, on Monday by nominating former senator and combat veteran Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon and anti-terrorism chief John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
CHUCK HAGEL IN HIS OWN WORDS: The Vietnam War veteran and former two-term senator from Nebraska will need to explain some of his comments and views as President Barack Obama's choice for the next secretary of defense. Here's look at past remarks likely to come up during his confirmation hearing.
MOLD ON BABY GEAR: The government is warning consumers to inspect Fisher-Price Newborn Rock `N Play Sleepers due to risk of exposure to mold for infants who use them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday that its warning applies to 800,000 infant recliner seats, called sleepers, that were sold at stores nationwide and online since September 2009
OFF THE ROCKS: Inspectors will descend upon a remote Kodiak Island bay to investigate whether a Royal Dutch Shell LLC drilling vessel will need repairs after spending nearly a week aground.