- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014
Rental space for Minn. senators: $2.4M to $2.9M

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota Department of Administration officials estimate it would cost at least $2.4 million to rent temporary space for state senators and staff during the ongoing Capitol renovation.

Administration officials gave a range Thursday that runs as high as $2.9 million per year, not counting the yet-known costs of retrofitting rental space. The estimate is based on a need to find at least 135,000 square feet nearby.

It’s part of a debate over where to put senators now and later, and whether a controversial Senate office building project goes forward.

The new Senate building and a related parking ramp project have been priced at $90 million.

The House Rules and Administration Committee is the last legislative hurdle for the new office project. But it is also the subject of a lawsuit.

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Legislature sends heating aid bill to Dayton

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Legislature on Thursday sent Gov. Mark Dayton a bill containing $20 million in emergency heating assistance, which his spokesman said the governor would sign immediately.

Lawmakers, in a series of unanimous votes, moved the heating aid quickly through the process in the opening days of the legislative session. The House initially passed the bill Tuesday. The Senate took it up Thursday, made minor changes and sent it back to the House, which relayed it to the governor.

The Senate sped up a planned Monday vote after Republicans sought to move it along quicker and Democrats did not object.

The bill replenishes a fast-eroding account for the low income heating assistance program, which has been stressed by a bone-chilling winter and high propane costs. As propane supplies ran thin, some customers paid as much as $6 per gallon this winter, though prices have come down more recently.

“There’s a crisis going on in rural Minnesota,” said Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake. “This is a start of dealing with this crisis.”

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DNR won’t extend comment period on PolyMet review

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