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Resolution of support approved

The war in Iraq dominated debate at the Mon., Mar. 24, Senate floor session. At issue was a resolution expressing support for members of the armed forces and their families.

S.R. 52, sponsored by Sen. Betsy Wergin (R-Princeton), provides that the state of Minnesota urges federal, state, and local government agencies, religious institutions, employers, schools, charitable organizations and all citizens to do all that is humanly possible to assist the families and loved ones of our armed forces members with all necessary and available support. Further, the resolution provides that the Senate pledges its support to and confidence in the United States of America its president and the men and women of the military. Wergin said, "Never again should military personnel return to the U.S. to be greeted by anything less than they are-American heroes."

The provision expressing confidence in the president sparked considerable debate among Senate members. Sen. Sandra Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) said, "I am not confident that we are doing the right thing with a preemptive strike. I strongly support our armed services-they are doing their job. I want to have confidence in my country, I love my country, but this is creating a great split between us and our allies around the world." Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing) countered, "In times other than war we can all disagree with the policies of the president and the Congress, but members we have thousands of Minnesotans that are serving in active duty. If we can't stand behind the men and women and their families today, then when are we going to stand behind them?"

Sen. Becky Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) offered an amendment to delete the portion of the resolution specifying support and confidence in the president. She said, "I think it right and appropriate that we support our military and the amendment allows all of us to support the resolution."

Wergin said, "It was never my intention to divide us. This resolution is not about policy, but about support of troops. Our president is the commander-in-chief of our troops." Murphy also argued against the amendment, "I would hope we can stand behind our commander in chief. Our president needs to have our thoughts and prayers behind him. What this resolution simply states is that we are going to give our unwavering support to those people who are protecting this country." Sen. Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) said, "It is illogical to bifurcate our support. How can we be anything other than in support of our country and our president?"

Lourey urged members to support the amendment in the interests of unity. Murphy offered an amendment to the amendment to change the word "president" to "commander-in-chief." However, upon advice from the Desk, Lourey withdrew her amendment and offered the language suggested by Murphy. The amendment was adopted on a 34-30 roll call vote.

Sen. Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar) urged members to support the resolution. "I am a member of the armed forces. The resolution expresses our support to the families, especially the children whose parents have been deployed." Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul) asked members to remember the men, women and children of Iraq who do not know what is happening or the politics of the war. "We talk about war, we talk about politics and winning and losing, but we don't often talk about the people whose lives are changed forever," she said. The resolution was approved on a vote of 66-0.

In other action, members also adopted a resolution setting committee deadlines and granted final passage to a number of bills on the Consent Calendar.

S.R. 4, sponsored by Sen. John Hottinger (DFL-St. Peter), sets the committee deadlines for the legislative session. Under the resolution, April 4 is the first committee deadline, April 11 is the second deadline and the final deadline is April 29. Seven bills were granted final passage on the Consent Calendar. S.F. 375, authored by Sen. Leo Foley (DFL-Coon Rapids), clarifies when the seizure of a motor vehicle used in a prostitution offense or to flee a peace officer occurs for purposes of the forfeiture law. S.F 512, sponsored by Sen. Mark Ourada (R-Buffalo), removes the city of Rockford from the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Council. H.F. 95, carried by Sen. Sharon Mark (DFL-Cottage Grove), clarifies an archaic prohibition on misrepresenting the size of awnings, paulins, wagon covers, tent, grain and hay covers, stable or tent tops. S.F. 578, sponsored by Foley, clarifies the qualifications of persons making decisions regarding civil commitments and emergency holds. S.F. 768, sponsored by Sen. Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley), revises statutes relating to the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board to remove redundant and obsolete language and to simplify grammar and syntax. S.F. 726, authored by Sen. Dallas Sams (DFL-Staples), modifies municipal reporting requirements relating to the building code. S.F. 842, authored by Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista), is a technical bill making changes in provisions relating to the Dept. of Natural Resources.


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