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Minnesota Legislature: Medical marijuana bills move ahead

ST. PAUL -- Bills making it legal for severely ill Minnesotans to use marijuana to ease their pain continues moving through the House and Senate.

Both bills await further committee hearings after passing earlier tests.

The Senate version passed the Judiciary Committee 4-3 Tuesday night.

"I am increasingly confident that this will be the year that Minnesota joins the 13 other states that have acted to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest," said bill sponsor Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing. "This is an issue where science, compassion and simple common sense come together."

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, sponsors the House bill. A House Civil Justice Committee hearing is expected soon.

Abortion, cloning opposed

Republicans have introduced bills that would ban abortions designed to select a sex of a child and forbid human cloning.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life supports the efforts.

"Minnesotans shake their heads in disbelief when they learn that an unborn child can be killed in Minnesota solely because of his or her sex," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "They are also shocked to discover that the University of Minnesota is seeking to create new human beings by cloning and harvest their stem cells, destroying them in the process."

MCCL reports that a California company can verify the gender of a baby as early as seven weeks after conception. The anti-abortion group says that has led to more abortions based on the baby's gender.

"This legislation protects the rights of unborn babies from the bizarre yet real practice of sex-selection abortion," Fischbach said.

Veteran aid eyed

Legislators are considering a bill to give veterans disabled in action a tax break.

The House Property Taxes Committee heard Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, argue for his measure that would not include a disabled veteran's household income when the state calculates their homeowner or renter property tax refunds. That amounts to an average $250 larger refund, Juhnke said.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.