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Next week at the Capitol

Posted at 11:02 AM on March 21, 2008 by Michael Marchio

Lawmakers will be on Easter break today through next Monday, but I'd like to point out a bill that's going to receive some attention next week.

In a very sad turn of event, Abigail Taylor, the 6-year-old girl injured by the pool drain in June, died last night. After 16 surgical procedures, including receiving liver, bowel and pancreas transplants, she developed a cancerous condition to which she succumbed.

Sen. Geoff Michel, who represents the Edina district where Abigail's family is from, is sponsoring legislation to require modifications in public pools to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. It follows federal legislation, passed and signed into law last December, that would make similar changes. The bill, SF2833, will be heard next Wednesday in the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Division.

When I first heard about this last year, I thought, how could the act of sitting on a pool drain - something everyone has probably done at one point or another - lead to this tragedy? But the history of these pool drains leading to horrible accidents similar to Abigail's is extensive. Drains in children's wading pools, like the one where Abigail's incident happened, are responsible for most of the accidents. From 1985 to 2004, 33 children under the age of 14 died as a result of entrapment in pool drains, and another 100 were seriously hurt.

On Wednesday, March 5, Abigail's father, Scott, spoke in front of the full Health and Human Services committee. I encourage you to watch it at the link above (just scroll down to the date, we'll have a better system for linking to speeches soon). After listening to what the young girl and her family had already gone through, you have to hope that lawmakers consider that when they cast their votes next week.