GOP attacks Senate Majority Leader Johnson

ST. PAUL -- Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, this week became the biggest legislative villain in the eyes of many Republicans. GOP Chairman Ron Carey announced that will show Johnson's changing story ab...

ST. PAUL -- Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, this week became the biggest legislative villain in the eyes of many Republicans.

GOP Chairman Ron Carey announced that will show Johnson's changing story about what he said to fellow pastors at a New London-Spicer ministerial meeting.

"Since it's becoming harder and harder for Dean Johnson to keep his story straight, we thought we would give Dean a hand keeping his serial fabrications consistent," Carey said.

In a secret tape recording, Johnson said he had talked to all the state Supreme Court justices, and at least three assured him that they would not change an existing law that prohibits gay marriages. His story changed last week, until by Friday he said he bumped into one justice in the Capitol rotunda and the two held a minute-long discussion about gay marriage laws. Johnson said his taped comments were "sanding off the truth," a phrase being used frequently in legislative debates this week.

On Monday, Chief Justice Russell Anderson said no justice has talked to Johnson about gay marriages.


On Tuesday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty made his most substantial comment on the dispute to date: "There should be room for forgiveness and second chances. We all stumble."

The governor also said he wished the Republican Party would stop running advertisements against Johnson.

"We should move on," Pawlenty said.

Red Lake honored

Minnesota state workers stopped work for a moment at 2 p.m. Tuesday to remember the events of one year earlier when 10 people died in a shooting spree in Red Lake.

"No one on the Red Lake Reservation or in the surrounding communities has been untouched by the event of one year ago today," Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, said in asking representatives to stand for a moment of silence.

Pawlenty also paused between meetings with veterans and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

After about 15 seconds of silence, Pawlenty praised the Red Lake Band of Chippewa.


"They are challenged in many ways economically, but ... they are a strong and proud people," he said. "They are bouncing back from this in their own way."

Abortions restricted

The House Civil Law Committee voted to stop taxpayer-funded abortions to the tune of $1 million a year.

"Minnesota taxpayers, a strong majority of who feel abortion is morally wrong, have essentially helped end the lives of more than 31,000 unborn children since 1995, and that number grows every day," Andrea Rau of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life told the committee.

In 1995, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the State Constitution allows a right to abortion and requires taxpayers to pay for elective abortions for some women. More than 29 percent of abortions in Minnesota are funded by taxpayers.

The bill's prospects in the Senate are dim.

More funding

The Minnesota League of Conservation Voters Education Fund reports a modest improvement in funding levels for conservation and the environment.


The league's analysis shows Pawlenty has increased funding in three areas:

-- Pawlenty's budget recommendations for 2007 include a $20 million investment in the Clean Water Legacy program to monitor and clean up the thousands of lakes and rivers that don't meet standards set by federal Clean Water Act.

-- His bonding proposal contains $187 million spending for a variety of natural resources and water quality programs.

-- The governor funded a $30 million request by the Board of Water and Soil Resources for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

Still, the league reports more funding needs for parks and trails.

Public studies sought

Two DFL legislators want drug makers to make clinical study results public.

"Pharmaceutical companies now conduct more clinical tests on their drugs than the government," Rep. John Lesch of St. Paul said. "Yet they are under no obligation to disclose the results if the trials go badly. We think it's only fair that doctors and consumers have all the available results to make informed choices about the safety of these drugs."


The bill sponsored by Lesch and Sen. John Hottinger of St. Peter would require that drug companies put information about drug trials on a Web site.

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