Contributed by Lindsay Hill
News from the Twin Cities, MN
Although the surge of spring weather over the weekend may be striking many Minnesotans with spring fever, state lawmakers are hard at work. After a heated discussion on May 1st of the “Path to Prosperity Act,” a version of the “Dream Act,” the Minnesota legislature again tackled a controversial topic. This time it was gay marriage.
On May 1, the Senate approved a proposal to allow undocumented youths to gain access to in-state tuition. Currently, noncitizens may attend public universities, but typically must pay out of state tuition. For students on campuses such as the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, this would be a difference of tens of thousands of dollars, and for some it could make the hope of higher education a reality. Opponents worried that an increase in the amount of students dependent upon state-financial aid would limit the resources available for all grant-seekers. However, the program would only reach about 750 students and would not tax the state; the greater impact, primary author Sen. Sandy Pappas explained, is its symbolic value for other students. After passing the Senate with a 41-23 margin, the bill will be discussed further in a conference committee before passing to the governor.
Thursday, lawmakers were back at it again facing a long day of discussion concerning gay marriage. The Minnesota House of Representatives addressed a proposition that some have considered a “turning point in state history.” Although a flurry of lobbying calls occurred on both sides, the DFL party secured enough votes to pass the bill: 75-59. The party also controls the Senate, which will review the bill on Monday. The bill is expected to continue on to the governor, whom has has pledged to sign the bill, becoming the first state in the Midwest to legalize gay marriage by legislative act. Once enacted, Minnesota will be the 12th state overall to allow gay marriage, going into effect August 1.