Column: The top 10 bills you should be glad were ignored this session

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 7, 2004

By Dan Dorman, State representative

As you are aware, the 2004 Minnesota legislative session ended in a thud. With the House and Senate locked in a stalemate, the session ended with most major finance bills and the bonding bill left undone. Gov. Pawlenty fixed a $160 million budget himself when legislative leaders couldn’t reach a compromise on a budget agreement.

Rightly or wrongly, many have labeled the 2004 session the “Do Nothing Legislature.” At the close of the two-year biennial legislative period that ended May 17, some 3,212 bills had been introduced in the Minnesota House. Be glad that most of those bills never saw the light of day. Here’s a look at the “Top 10 Bills Minnesotans Should Be Glad the Legislature Ignored.”

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(10) BLANKET PRINCIPLES. One bill (HF1641) would have required the state Department of Corrections to “purchase wool blankets made in the state” when purchasing blankets to be provided to inmates confined to correctional facilities. Isn’t there a Wal-Mart nearby?

(9) NO NUKES. At a time when energy providers and users are searching for cheaper, cleaner and more efficient energy alternatives, one bill (HF1060) called for the phase out of all nuclear energy in the state. The state’s three nuclear power plants currently almost a quarter of all electricity used in Minnesota with few if any harmful emissions. How much more are you willing to pay on your utility bill?

(8) TURN OFF THE LIGHT ON YOUR WAY OUTTA TOWN. One failed bill (HF288) attempted to tackle light pollution. It would have “requested the cooperation of public and private utilities, billboard owners, commercial and industrial businesses, and others owning or operating outdoor lights to reduce artificial light pollution to the greatest extent practicable.” First they came for your cigarettes; now they want your flashlights.

(7) VIDEO GAME POSSESSION. Although no parent endorses their kids obtaining unsuitable video games, one bill (HF492) would have made it a petty misdemeanor (up to $300 fine) for “a person under the age of 17 who knowingly possesses, rents, or purchases a restricted video game.” A restricted video game is one rated AO or M by the entertainment software rating board. As if the police aren’t busy enough.

(6) ALIEN VOTER RIGHTS. There were many bills offered affecting voters and elections. One which passed would require photo ID as part of election day voter registration. Another (HF71) did not get a hearing, rightfully so. It would have allowed anyone 18 and over to vote in a local election if that person lived in the local jurisdiction for at least 30 days prior to the election – even if the person wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

(5) POT HEADS. One bill which did not get a hearing (HF1440) would have allowed citizens to possess up to 10.5 ounces of bagged “usable marijuana,” three mature marijuana plants or four immature marijuana plants if they could get a doctor to certify that they were in “severe pain” which could be best treated by the use of marijuana. The “severe pain” need not be limited to chronic conditions such as cancer or glaucoma.

(4) BIRD POOP & KIDS. One bill (HF2321) would have set aside $50,000 to conduct a study to analyze “the effects of avian fecal matter, including goose droppings, on children.” It’s for the children.


One bill (HF1627) would have required a person “carrying or possessing a firearm on or about his or her person or body [to] obtain permission from the lawful possessor of a private residence before entering the residence.” One hopes that armed robbers and burglars well adhere to the spirit of the law despite the bill’s failure.

(2) STUPID FARM ANIMAL TRICKS. One bill (HF1955) would compel farmers to make sure that the livestock they’re hauling “is protected in a manner that prevents the animal from falling, jumping, or being thrown from the vehicle.” I guess farmers aren’t smart enough to protect their investment.

(1) LAST CALL? In light of the recent alcohol-related expose at the legislature, perhaps it’s best that this bill (HF2977) never made it out of committee. It would have authorized the city of St. Paul “to issue a liquor license for special events at the State Capitol.” Although the bill was introduced to facilitate events during the centennial anniversary of the Capitol Building in 2005, the legislation couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Got a question or concern? Write me at 579 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, or call me, toll-free, at 1-877-377-9441. My e-mail address is

(Dan Dorman is the state representative for District 27A, which includes Albert Lea.)