CHICAGO -- A Minnesota legislative panel yesterday cleared the way for the state and the Metropolitan Airports Commission to issue up to $699 million of bonds to assist Northwest Airlines expand its operations.

The Legislature's Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy voted 11 to 7 in favor of allowing the airports commission -- the owner and operator of Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport -- to issue up to $349 million of general obligation and lease-backed revenue bonds and loan the proceeds to Northwest.

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