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Klobuchar bill fights synthetic drugs

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is among sponsors of a bill written to make it easier to prosecute cases involving the sale of synthetic drugs.

The Minnesota Demo-crat said that synthetic drug ingredients change slightly whenever a synthetic drug becomes illegal, and the process to make the new one illegal must begin from scratch.

The bill would apply to drugs similar to those that already are illegal. Current law forbids federal officials from prosecuting if a substance is “not intended for human consumption.” However, law enforcement officials say many of the drugs are labeled that way, but everyone knows they are meant for people to use.

The bill would establish several factors to consider when determining if a substance is designed to mimic an illegal drug, making it easier to prove a drug is meant for human consumption.

“This bill will make it easier to crack down on new synthetic drugs by closing a loophole that allows drug dealers to flout the law by pretending that these dangerous drugs are not intended for human consumption, when really they’re endangering the lives of teenagers and families every day,” Klobuchar said.

Joining her on the bill are Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Diane Feinstein. D-Calif.

Judge considers unionization

A federal judge is considering whether a union organizing effort should continue among Minnesota’s home childcare workers.

Judge Michael Davis Thursday heard the state defend the law and opponents say the unionization movement should be halted.

The 2013 Legislature passed and Gov. Mark Dayton signed legislation to allow nearly 13,000 Minnesotans who host day cares in their homes, and receive state subsidies, to join unions.

Supporters said that would give the childcare workers more say when the state adopts new rules and decides how much to pay. But Republicans, such as Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, say that private businesses such as childcare providers should not be part of unions.

“This court hearing is the first step to remedy the injustice done by Democrats in St. Paul to the hardworking childcare providers and parents of Minnesota,” Franson said. “As a former childcare provider, I know firsthand we don’t need big union bosses increasing costs and creating fewer options for the care of our precious children.”

Senate Minority Lea-der David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said he supports childcare providers who are fighting the new law “in arguing that they are private business owners, not public employees. Gov. Mark Dayton and Democrat legislators chose to ignore this fact when they sided with union bosses in trying to force unionization.”

Dayton said that a judge who overturned his attempt to allow unionization on his own said the decision should be up to the Legislature. The Legislature, dominated by Democrats, opted to follow Dayton’s lead and allow unionization.

“There is a lot of right wing money from all over the country that is going into this fight,” Dayton said. That money is fighting the objective of giving people the right “to decide for themselves,” he said.

Senator takes a shot

A Minnesota senator who is thinking about running for governor disagrees with the incumbent about gun rights.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, on Thursday shot back at Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who news organizations quoted as saying that the Trayvon Martin case in Florida strengthened his opposition to allowing more open gun laws.

The senator said Dayton is “politicizing the tragedy” in which Martin, a young black man, was shot and killed by a white neighborhood watch volunteer. A jury last weekend found the shooter not guilty of murder.

“As a former sheriff, I have always put faith into the justice system and allowing the court and-or jury to decide the verdict,” Ingebrigtsen said. “Gov. Dayton is playing political games with our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

The senator said he thinks Dayton’s comments signal “the assault he and DFL leadership will lead” against gun ownership.

Pheasant opener set

This year’s governor’s pheasant hunting opener is headed to the south-central community of Madelia.

The Department of Nat-ural Resources announced Thursday it will be held Oct. 11-12.

Madelia City Adminis-trator Dan Madsen said there are 8,600 acres of public hunting land within 20 miles of Madelia.

Previous hunting openers for the relatively new event have been in Montevideo and Marshall.

Gov. Mark Dayton plans to participate.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.