Pay raises for lawmakers and Dayton's return to the Capitol are just a few of the political high points.
To hear the full discussion use the audio player above.
Legislators are getting a raise
Starting in July the pay for lawmakers will increase to $45,000 a year.
"That's a considerable step up from the $31,000 they make now," said MPR News reporter Brian Bakst. Legislators haven't had a raise since 1999.
This decision was made by an independent council put in place by the constitutional amendment voters approved last November.
Whether the pay raises will impact daily per diem expenses lawmakers can claim remains to be seen. Per diem is $66 for Minnesota House members and $86 for Minnesota senators .
Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Pioneer Press said the council didn't decide on the per diem, but they did take it into consideration and lawmakers might choose to get rid of it.
"A lot of the members seemed to be disturbed by the idea of per diem," she said.
Overall the pay of lawmakers is a touchy political subject, which is why the council was formed.
Individual lawmakers can decide to turn down the pay raise, said Bakst. We'll have to see what they do in July.
Gov. Mark Dayton back at the Capitol after surgery
Reporter Tim Nelson said that Dayton made his first public appearance Friday since undergoing surgery last week for prostate cancer.
There was no spread of the cancer, and Dayton said he is taking only Tylenol for pain.
"The aftermath of the surgery was difficult," Nelson reported Dayton saying, but otherwise the surgery and recovery have been routine.
Apply for your passport. The Real ID bill is in trouble
Real I.D. is the first example of what a one-vote Republican majority in the Minnesota Senate "can and cannot do" said Stassen-Berger.
In 2018 the Federal Government will put in place standards for identification that Minnesota licenses don't yet meet. In order to fly or get into certain military or federal buildings, you'll need identification that is compliant with federal standards.
A few members of the Republican majority said they wouldn't vote for Real I.D. because it was government overreach and a breach of constitutional rights. Those in favor knew going in they needed DFL support to pass the bill.
All Democrats voted against the bill. Republicans never approached them to ask for votes.
"You don't ask you don't get," said Stassen-Berger.
If the Legislature fails to act people who are looking to travel next year can get an enhanced license that does comply with federal standards for Real I.D. or use a passport.
Minnesota doctors don't like GOP health plan
Dr. Robert Meiches, the CEO of the Minnesota Medical Association, said that the American Health Care Act introduced by House Republicans in Washington this week is raising some "major concerns."
"We don't think the current plan is going to help," said Dr. Meiches.
He laid out his organization's major concerns with the GOP plan: Fewer Minnesotans would have insurance, partially because the cost of insurance will go up. It will also impact the basic health plan in Minnesota. Finally, it will impact Medicaid expansion in the state.
"You can imagine a scenario where people have insurance, but they can't afford to pay for that insurance or the care received under that insurance. And that's really the challenge," said Dr. Meiches.
Is SWLRT worth the money?
Bill that cleared state Senate committees this week restrict the use of public money for construction or operation of any new Light Rail transit projects.
Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, told host Mike Mulcahy that things have been done backwards for Light Rail funding, and that his bill (SF 150) is trying to prevent that.
"If the state is being involved in subsidizing the operations it's my philosophical believe that we should be saying whether we're going to be supporting these at the front of the train not at the back," said Osmek.
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said that building transit is important to keep up with growing population demands. A sales tax increase would be, "sufficient to build and operate our entire transit system."
These bills would provide the funds for transit, said Osmek. Money would be set aside for rapid transit in and out of the metro through buses. "We're not against transit," said Sen. Osmek. "We want transit that works."
He went on to say Southwest Light Rail isn't worth it, given the cost per rider and the density.
"The benefits outweigh the costs," he said.
Lines must demonstrate cost benefit on several fronts to receive federal funding. Those benefits include job growth, land use development, and addressing congestion. Dibble said Southwest LRT meets all those criteria.
"There's major job potential in the southwest quadrant and a lot of people who don't have very easy access to those jobs," said Dibble.