- Associated Press - Saturday, May 20, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - It’s a race against time at the Minnesota Legislature, where lawmakers have just two days to finalize a new budget.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders were meeting sporadically Saturday to hash out their lingering disagreements over a new spending package and other issues before Monday’s midnight deadline. It’s the homestretch in an otherwise active legislative session.

Here’s a look at what’s still on the table and what’s already been settled:

THE BUDGET

All eyes were on the budget in the final weekend.

The two sides were closing in on a $45.5 billion, two-year spending package, but major disagreements remained as Republicans pressed ahead with their own proposals. Chiefly, Dayton balked at a combination of $660 million in tax breaks and shifting $300 million for road and bridge repairs, saying it could harm the state’s financial footing.

With just days to go, an overtime session to resolve those arguments wasn’t out of the question.

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PRESCHOOL

Dayton hasn’t budged on his push to put more money toward his flagship early childhood education program, calling extra funding a must-have for a deal.

The exact dollar amount is in flux, but Republicans are hesitant, instead wanting to craft an early education system that uses a mix of scholarships for private schools, state funding and existing programs.

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BUFFERS

The Democratic governor is on the defense over his marquee water quality initiative.

Slated to start this fall, farmers would have to create grassland buffers between waterways and their crops to prevent runoff. But Republicans are pushing for a delay, saying the measure is confusing and agitating for farmers.

It’s one of several controversial policy changes intertwined with the massive budget. Dayton has urged lawmakers to drop it, warning that their disagreements could hinder a timely finish.

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LABOR LAWS

Proponents of local labor laws that would raise the minimum wage in Minneapolis to $15 and create a paid leave program are worried that Republicans will try to block the measures in one of their budget bills.

Democrats have argued that the move to stop local labor laws is little more than the Legislature seizing local control from cities. Republicans say a patchwork of minimum wage and labor laws throughout the state will create a confusing and harmful climate for small business owners.

Whether that measure would wind up in the final budget was unclear.

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HEALTH INSURANCE

The Legislature took two steps to address rising health insurance costs on the individual market.

First, lawmakers created a new state subsidy for shoppers who don’t get federal help on premiums for 2017. And for 2018, the Legislature tapped more than $500 million to help insurers cover large claims, hoping that would keep rates down.

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SUNDAY SALES

No need to pinch yourself - liquor sales on Sundays are actually happening.

The state’s ban on Sunday liquor sales has been a perennial issue at the Capitol for a decade or more, regularly failing by wide margins. But the tide turned at the Legislature this year as both chambers passed a bill to remove the Prohibition-era ban.

Liquor stores can start selling on Sundays in July.

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REAL ID

Fear not, residents worried about getting turned away from domestic flights with a driver’s license. The Legislature finally sorted out its dispute with the federal government over Real ID.

It took two years and a disagreement about expanding ID access to immigrants living in the state illegally, but a bill passed this week sets the necessary upgrades to driver’s licenses in motion. The state expects to start issuing the new, compliant IDs sometime next year.

Dayton sent a letter Friday to the Department of Homeland Security asking for an extension to let Minnesota residents use their old IDs until everyone has the chance to upgrade.

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FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

It’s unclear whether a bill with tough penalties on parents who subject their children to female genital mutilation will proceed this year.

Spurred by charges against a Detroit-area doctor who allegedly performed the procedure on a pair of 7-year-old Minnesota girls, legislation that would also hit the parents with felony charges and possible custody removal won quick approval in the House. But the Senate seemed content to wait until 2018 to take up the bill.

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ABORTION MEASURES

Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed two measures that would have barred state dollars from going toward abortions and placed restrictions on facilities.

Republicans attempted to rework the facility bill after abortion rights advocates said the bill would create arbitrary restrictions on clinics. But even with the changes, Dayton shot down the legislation, keeping his promise to veto any measures that tried to stifle access to abortions.

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