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Capitol Notebook
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Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, greets supporters of a bill to ban gay marriage. (MPR Photo/Laura McCallum)
Happenings during the 2004 legislative session, from the Associated Press and MPR Capitol reporters.

St. Paul, Minn. —


Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson got a visit at the Capitol Monday from some of his constituents - supporters of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota.

About 40 people traveled from Willmar to St. Paul because they said they'd been unable to meet with Johnson otherwise.

The bill they back would put a question on the general election ballot in November, allowing voters to decide whether marriage should be defined in the state constitution only as a union between one man and one woman.

The proposal has passed the GOP-led House, but was defeated in a committee in the DFL-controlled Senate.

"We're hoping that there will be a change in the Senate," said Wayne Cook, pastor of a non-denominational church in Willmar.

Johnson spoke briefly to the group, but after the meeting said prospects for the bill getting a floor vote in the Senate were "highly unlikely."


House and Senate negotiators began talks Monday morning on how to resolve their differences on social studies standards and other education policy issues.

The Minnesota House and Senate approved sharply different plans for teaching social studies in public schools. The standards set the learning expectations at each grade level for civics, economics, geography and history.

The House version stresses factual knowledge. The Senate standards focus more on analysis and critical thinking.

Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, says conference committee members will not try to rewrite each standard in order to find a compromise.

"I don't envision us as a committee going through benchmark by benchmark picking them. I don't think that's a good process. But we'll have to talk about a more productive way of doing it," he said.

Kelley's counterpart on the committee, Republican Rep. Alice Seagren, says she wants the state education commissioner to come up with a revised set of social studies standards for consideration.


A last-ditch attempt to allow wine in grocery stores failed 15-51 Monday in the Senate. Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, unsuccessfully attempted to amend a bill that makes minor changes to the state's liquor laws to allow Minnesota-made wines to be sold in grocery stores.

The Minnesota-only wines was a narrower version of a bill that has been defeated multiple times to allow all wines in grocery stores.

Murphy said his proposal would be an "opportunity for some very small business owners to get their foot in that market."

The Senate also took a provision out of the liquor bill that would have allowed beer with an alcohol content greater than 3.2 percent at the Minnesota State Fair.

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