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Session 2003

Session 2003: Public Safety

Most law-abiding, mentally competent adults who pass background checks and undergo training now can get permits to carry concealed weapons. Past law gave discretion to local law enforcement officials in granting the permits, but that law was changed this session. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the bill's sponsors wanted to amend the law to change the notification requirement to allow either sign-posting or verbal notification, but will have to wait until next year. That's because Democrats wanted to reopen the entire bill to debate rather than one provision.

A war of words has erupted at the highest levels of state government in the wake of a newspaper article about Minnesota's sexual offender program. The article in Sunday's Star Tribune was headlined, <i>State looks to release sexual psychopaths.</i> Attorney General Mike Hatch is criticizing the Pawlenty administration for forcing early release of predators to save state money. Pawlenty chief of staff Charlie Weaver counters the article is wrong, and Hatch's claims politically motivated. (06/23/2003)
A last-minute infusion of money will allow the Minnesota Gang Strike Force to remain intact through another year after the Legislature grabbed most of its budget to help balance the state budget. Attorney General Mike Hatch announced that his office was providing $135,000 to help the strike force stay afloat. Created in 1997, the strike force brings together officers from across the state to work as one unit in fighting gang crime. What is the future of the strike force, and predicted summer gang activity in Minnesota? ( 06/11/2003)
At least 13 congregations of various faiths asked a judge on Thursday to allow them to opt out of portions of the newly-enacted concealed carry law. The churches asked for a temporary restraining order, arguing that the law infringes on their rights to ban guns on all of their property, including parking lots. (05/29/2003)
Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum says he'll continue to push for a change in a new law that would require sheriffs to issue handgun permits to almost any Minnesotan over the age of 21. The law went into effect Wednesday. Sviggum and Gov. Pawlenty say they would like to change a requirement that business owners both post signs and personally tell people that guns aren't welcome in their establishments. The proposed change would allow business owners to do one or the other. However, several lawmakers say they don't think a compromise between the House and Senate on the handgun issue can be reached this session. (05/28/2003)
Minnesota's Personal Protection Act takes effect today, making it much easier for people to receive permits to carry handguns. (05/28/2003)
Gov. Pawlenty says he's willing to take another look at the concealed carry law to clear up any potential problems. The law requires local sheriffs to issue a handgun permit to almost any law abiding Minnesotan over the age of 21. The Legislature passed the bill earlier this session and within hours, it was signed into law by Gov. Pawlenty. Opponents say the governor and the bill's supporters didn't carefully consider some aspects of the bill. (05/27/2003)
Three days into their special session, state lawmakers have passed half of the state budget bills. The House and Senate passed a bill Thursday night that funds education from pre-school through grade 12, as well as some adult education programs. The bill now goes to Gov. Pawlenty. Supporters say they did their best to continue funding the classroom. Opponents say the bill makes significant cuts to early childhood education, special education funding and English as a second language. (05/23/2003)
The conceal and carry law has caused some expected and some unexpected ripples in the state. At least one city and a church are saying the right to carry concealed guns conflicts with current rules. Learn more about the Personal Protection Act. ( 05/22/2003)
A bill that funds the state courts, public safety and public defense is on its way to Gov. Pawlenty. The Minnesota House passed the bill Wednesday on a 70-to-62 vote. Supporters say the bill is the best they can do in difficult budget times. (05/21/2003)
An Edina church sued the state Tuesday, asking to have portions of a new handgun permit law declared unconstitutional. Church officials say the law infringes on the Minnesota Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom. (05/20/2003)
The recently passed conceal carry handgun law is causing confusion among business owners who don't want guns on their property. The new law says that those businesses will not only have to post signs at their entrances, but will also have to personally notify each person coming through the doors. Businesses like the Mall of America say that's not very practical. Officials in charge of office buildings, hospitals, and college campuses are also worried about what to do. The confusion and concern about the conceal carry law is the topic of an article in this week's edition of <i>The Business Journal</i>. MPR's Cathy Wurzer talks to Scott Smith, the reporter who wrote the article. (05/16/2003)
The lawmaker who successfully pushed for changes in Minnesota's handgun laws acknowledged Friday that a crime she committed as a teenager could keep her from getting a permit. (05/16/2003)
At the end of the month a record number of Minnesotans will be able to qualify to carry a concealed weapon. People in Olmsted County are preparing for when the law goes into effect. (05/14/2003)
Ottertail County gives out more handgun permits than any county in the state. The sheriff says it hasn't made the county more dangerous. (05/13/2003)
The Minnesota Personal Protection Act became law following a seven-year gun lobby effort led by a group called Minnesota Concealed Carry Reform NOW!. Several lawmakers say legislative maneuvering which circumvented conventional debate in the Senate resulted in legislation that should have been more closely scrutinized. Some lawmakers also say concealed carry passed because some legislators were afraid to vote no. (05/12/2003)
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Audio Highlights

Gov. Pawlenty inaugural address
The view from former governors (5/13/03)
Former governors Arne Carlson, Wendell Anderson, Elmer L. Andersen and Al Quie give free advice to Gov. Pawlenty
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