Area legislators gear up for presenting bills

NEW ULM – Area lawmakers are gearing up to present bills for the 2013 session of Minnesota Legislature, which started Tuesday.

Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) has two pieces of legislation based from recent controversies. He proposes arming teachers in Minnesota schools. He also want to give families more protection for their property rights in murder cases.

The legislation that would allow teachers and school staff to carry guns in schools has been a priority for Cornish since the school shooting in Newtown Connecticut in early December 2012. NRA chief Wayne LaPierre received widespread rebuke for presenting the same proposal last month, and Cornish has been criticized for his proposal by Democrats and Gov. Mark Dayton. Cornish has soldiered through the criticism and remained adamant about his proposal.

The specific legislation he plans to push allows the implementation of armed guards in schools, most likely through hiring police officers. He met with NRA and other gun groups Wednesday to coordinate press releases on some of his proposals.

On his proposal related to property in murder cases, Cornish said he will be working closely with family of murder victim James Nibbe, who was killed in August 2010 by his wife. He felt compelled to act after learning about the challenges Nibbe’s family faced in regaining his property from the family of his convicted killer.

The proposed legislation will seek to establish a process to have the court take inventory of a victim’s possessions at the start of a murder case. The legislation is aimed at trying to reduce legal wrangling by making ownership more clear and offering records in the event of the items being wrongfully sold or destroyed.

Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) and Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) are hoping to make an impact in the Legislature despite being in the minority party.

Torkelson is in the preliminary stage with many bills, but he might look at a bill on bee-keeping habitats. More generally, he plans to work on water quality and environmental issues.

Dahms might offer bills on increasing local control by working on the MAGIC Act and more specific legislation for communities in his district on issues like flood mitigation or environment.

Torkelson and Dahms will support a bill to prevent rural cities and counties from having to pay sales tax on the mandates ARMER radio equipment upgrade all emergency services needed implement. Both legislators said it was unfair that some metro areas dodged the sale tax, so they are seeking to have no municipal or county government in the state pay either.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at

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