The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 21, 2014

Police, prosecutors show influence at Capitol

Medical marijuana proponents frustrated with Dayton

ST. PAUL — On issues ranging from medical marijuana to privacy, some Minnesota lawmakers are concerned police and prosecutors are spending too much time at the Capitol to protect and serve their own interests.

Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, who's trying to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, said she's frustrated that Gov. Mark Dayton won't support the proposal unless it has support from law enforcement, Minnesota Public Radio reported Monday (http://bit.ly/1gNkpOI).

She said she's also surprised that police groups objected to giving immunity to people who seek emergency help for someone suffering from a drug overdose.

"I'm starting to wonder who makes the laws around here," Melin said. "It seems like we take their opinion into pretty heavy consideration whenever we're passing legislation."

State Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, said police and prosecutors shouldn't be able to use devices that collect driver's license data for vehicle locations, follow cellphones or use GPS tracking devices without first getting a warrant.

"It's our job as civilian legislators, representatives of the people, to hold law enforcement accountable, especially law enforcement," Petersen said. "Law enforcement is the one entity — government entity — that has the ability to imprison you and take your life if necessary. If anybody should be constrained by the law, it ought to be law enforcement."

But Jim Franklin, executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs Association, said his group and others are just trying to inform lawmakers about the implications of their actions.

"If they feel that we offer too many opinions, speak up too much in public testimony or give our opinions too much, if that is called clout, then we don't apologize," Franklin said.

Dayton, a Democrat, said he's not worried about being too close to police and prosecutors.

"If I'm going to be criticized for respecting law enforcement officials and depending on their perspective to know what the consequences of laws are going to be in the real world where they're fighting crime every day, I'll accept that," Dayton said.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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