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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 9:19 pm •  Published: November 7, 2012
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage is history. The fight isn't over for gay marriage supporters, though. The next logical step is the actual right to marry.

Though the ban was defeated by voters Tuesday, state law still prohibits gay marriage. New Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate make it more likely that the 1997 "Defense of Marriage" law could be repealed. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who would have to approve such a change, is in favor of gay marriage.

But Dayton and Democratic legislative leaders played down that possibility Wednesday, at least in the immediate future. The likely new Senate leader, Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook, said policy changes would have to take a back seat to the state budget when the Legislature convenes in January.

"I'm not going to get into this particular or that particular," Dayton said, asked if he would sign a bill to legalize gay marriage.

Despite those cautious words, Democratic Sen. John Marty of Roseville said he'd start pushing a legalization bill as soon as the session starts.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Democrats newly in control of Minnesota's political power began a delicate dance Wednesday around Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's long-held goal of raising income taxes on the top earners.

A day after overturning GOP legislative majorities to gain full control of the state government for the first time in 22 years, DFL Senate caucus leader Tom Bakk predicted "a very difficult conversation" ahead about spending cuts and taxes. The state is behind on school aid checks, and budget watchers project a $1.1 billion deficit starting in mid-2013.

Tuesday's returns will test how far Democrats — including moderates who won swing districts where voters were more focused on jobs than taxes — are willing to go with Dayton's income tax push. The DFL wins came after two bitter years in the minority, including last year's state government shutdown when Dayton dropped the income tax proposal after losing a staredown with Republicans.

Appearing with Bakk and House DFL leader Paul Thissen at a Capitol news conference Wednesday, Dayton predicted Minnesota would see "progress" under Democratic rule.

"That's our responsibility now. It's a major responsibility," the first-term governor said.

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is headed back to Washington, but the tea-party favorite's toughest race yet suggests a new vulnerability in the wake of her failed presidential run.

Bachmann barely won a fourth term despite vastly outspending an upstart Democrat running his first race. She turned out to be less popular with her constituents than GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney or even a gay marriage ban she championed.

Bachmann seemed to acknowledge as much Wednesday, promising a "laser-like" focus on her job.

"In my next term, I'll continue to work every day to create jobs for the people in my district and for the people in our nation, while doing everything I can to be an unwavering voice in Washington for our constitutional conservative values," Bachmann said in a statement.

She didn't respond to interview requests.

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DODGE CENTER, Minn. (AP) — The State Patrol says wet pavement was a factor in a head-on crash in southern Minnesota that killed two drivers and a young boy and injured the child's mother.

The patrol says a pickup driven by 50-year-old Scott Hodgman of West Concord crossed the center line on Highway 14 in Dodge County late Tuesday and collided with an SUV driven by 43-year-old Jack Reich, of Zap, N.D.

The two men and Reich's 10-year-old son, Vander, were killed. Reich's 39-year-old wife, Mardee, was injured and taken to St. Marys in Rochester. Authorities say her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

The crash happened west of Dodge Center about 6:30 p.m.

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