- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Dayton touts ‘Unsession,’ services speed-up

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says the state is making progress in delivering services to people and businesses that interact with government.

In his State of the State address Wednesday night, the governor said the Legislature and his administration have made sped up government tasks and become more responsive.

Dayton says moves to cut bureaucratic red tape have meant faster environmental permits for businesses and shorter waits for people with motor vehicle transactions. For example, he says it now takes an average of 19 days to register a car compared with the needed three months previously.

He says his “unsession” campaign to prune the books of outdated or duplicative laws have resulted in 121 deletions so far.


Dayton reiterates call for bigger bonding bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton is making a last-ditch push for $1.2 billion in public works borrowing.

A construction projects bill is among the major items yet to complete before lawmakers head home.

Coming into their session, Democratic and GOP legislative leaders said they would craft a bill limited to $850 million. But Dayton implored lawmakers in his State of the State on Wednesday to shoot higher so a greater backlog of projects can be addressed.

Unlike most measures, it requires a supermajority for passage so Republican buy-in is critical in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

One of Dayton’s invited guests was the mayor of Luverne in Minnesota’s southwestern corner. The city is counting on state bonding dollars for the Lewis and Clark water project deemed essential to shortages in that region.


Dayton seeks ‘unity of purpose’ in State of State

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton appealed Wednesday for a “unity of purpose” among lawmakers seeking to push Minnesota forward, saying differing political philosophies shouldn’t keep them from achieving progress in a state that he says is “much better than before.”

In the capstone State of the State address of his term, Dayton asked the Legislature to keep the idea in mind as they finalize tax-cut and spending bills in coming weeks that rely on a budget surplus. He urged them to pass a $1.2 billion construction projects bill, which is substantially more than one under consideration.

“While we may not find a unity of means, I believe we do share a unity of purpose,” the Democratic governor said. “We all love this state. We all want to see it prosper.”

Republicans had panned the speech in advance as a political look-ahead to Dayton’s re-election campaign. The last time a State of the State address was delivered so late in the year was Democratic Gov. Rudy Perpich’s address on April 21, 1977. Dayton’s speech comes as lawmakers are scrambling to conclude their annual session by May 19. Governors usually give the speech toward the start of the legislative session to lay out their objectives.

The timing has a lot to do with an early-February hip surgery that sidelined the governor for weeks and still requires him to move around on crutches. Dayton entered the House chamber from a side door rather than making the ceremonial walk down the center aisle while shaking hands.


Juror: Recording of Minnesota killings was key

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Jurors say an audio recording of a central Minnesota homeowner shooting two teens who broke into his home was a key piece of evidence in his conviction.

Sixty-five-year-old Byron Smith was found guilty Tuesday of premeditated murder in the deaths of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile (HAY’-lee) Kifer.

One juror tells The Associated Press that the audio recording was “damning evidence.” Wes Hatlestad also says the jury decided Smith’s actions weren’t in self-defense.

But defense attorney Steve Meshbesher says Smith made that recording because he was afraid he’d be killed in his own home and wanted to have evidence for police.

Smith was immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole. Meshbesher says he plans to appeal.

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