2014 Legislative Session to Begin 24 Feb 14

ST. PAUL,Minn.(AP) — Make no waves.

That’s a guiding principle for the Democrats in charge of Minnesota’s Legislature. Lawmakers arrive Tuesday for an annual session that could extend into mid-May.

Party leaders are eager to prevent, or at least contain, controversy that can leave a bad taste for voters or alienate important constituencies in a year when the Democratic House majority and Governor Mark Dayton’s re-election are on the line.

Lawmakers have an $825 million surplus at their disposal. Topping the Democrats’ “must do” list are a borrow-and-build plan for government construction projects and a boost in the state’s minimum wage.

There’s potential for friction over medicinal marijuana, a costly Senate office building, oversight laws related to the beleaguered health exchange and a new mining venture in northeastern Minnesota.

Supporters of medical marijuana say the state’s 2014 legislative session, which starts Tuesday, may be Minnesota’s best chance in years to see pot legalized for medical use.

Governor Mark Dayton has urged supporters to negotiate with opponents in law enforcement to reach a compromise. A St. Cloud Times report says that effort could finally be gaining momentum.

Democratic state Representative Carly Melin is the lead House sponsor of medical marijuana legislation. She says law enforcement groups had been refusing to negotiate. But she says some groups are now willing to consider legalizing certain extracts.