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Legislation requires parental notification after abuse

ST. PAUL -- Parents should know if their children have been abused in schools, the Minnesota House unanimously decided Tuesday, reacting to news that a couple did not know a teacher mistreated their Down syndrome son until nearly two years after it occurred.

"We need to make sure parents have the ability to help their own kids when their kids are in trouble," Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, said.

The story of Kyle Herman, a kindergartener in the northern Twin Cities when he was abused, came to attention of Concordia University, St. Paul, students, who took up his cause and lobbied lawmakers to pass a bill requiring that parents be notified when a teacher is investigated for abuse.

Mahoney said Herman's parents did not understand why he went from a fun-loving boy to a sad one. Two years later, they found out "his teacher slapped him, hit him," the lawmaker added.

At one point, the teacher scared the boy by using a Santa Claus hat.

Before all 128 representatives in the House chamber approved the bill, Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, said that passing the measure is how things should work.

"It is a great example of taking an example of injustice and turning it into action," Westrom said.

The Senate is considering a similar bill.

Better searches

Law enforcement officers could demand information about the location of a mobile telephone if they are searching for a missing person under a bill senators tentatively approved Tuesday.

"The bill would strengthen the ability of Minnesota law enforcement to find a missing person," said Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth, the bill's chief sponsor.

It passed by a voice vote despite concerns raised by Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, who said tracking mobile phones is taking a step in the direction of providing government too much information on the location of citizens.

Former sheriff Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said he understands Limmer's concerns.

"Once it is abused, it is really tough to mend it up," he said, adding that senators should monitor how the law is applied.

Current law allows, but does not require, mobile phone companies to turn location information over to police.

The bill was brought up after a Kansas incident in which a missing girl was found dead days after she disappeared. The girl's parents visited the Minnesota Capitol earlier this year to lobby for the bill.

Licensing tattoos

Tattoo artists would be required to hold a state license, and get proper training, senators tentatively decided Tuesday.

A similar bill faces a House committee hearing later this week.

Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth, said a training and licensing law is to ensure tattoos are safe, which would allow people who obtain tattoos to donate blood. Now, blood centers reject people with tattoos less than a year old, Prettner Solon said.

The measure passed out of committees last year, but did not make it into law.

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