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Minnesota Legislature Enters Busy Final Week - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Minnesota Legislature Enters Busy Final Week

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Minnesota lawmakers are bearing down for the legislative session's homestretch. 

Monday marks one week until the mandatory adjournment deadline. 

The week was to start with another high-profile issue at the forefront.  The bill to make gay marriage legal in Minnesota is taking its last step in the legislative process.

The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill Monday at noon for a debate and vote.

The chamber's DFL leaders have said they expect it to pass. If it does, the bill goes to Democratic Governor Mark Dayton who has promised to sign it.

The bill would make same-sex marriage available starting August 1st.

Minnesota would become the 12th U.S. state to legalize gay marriage.

Also on the "To Do" List this week, the House and Senate still need to pass compromise bills to comprise the state's next two year budget.

And along the way, they are likely to pass tax increases on top earners and smokers. An alcohol tax increase is also in play as are revisions to the state sales tax.

On the spending side, the budget is likely to feature new dollars for education, including funds to help schools provide all-day kindergarten statewide.

Two versions of a bill mandating solar energy for big utilities are heading for a conference committee where compromise legislation should emerge in the final week of Minnesota's legislative session. 

The Senate version requires large utility companies to generate 1 percent of power from the sun by 2025.

The House version requires 4 percent, in addition to the 25 percent renewable energy requirement passed in 2007.

Both bills exempt taconite operations, recycled iron ore mining operations and wood products plants from any rate increase attributed to the solar mandate.

The House bill also exempts rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. Together, it would exempt nearly a third of the state.

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