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Posts about Civil liberties

Loophole for sex offenders closed

Posted by: Updated: May 28, 2010 - 10:16 AM

Most sex offenders will now be banned from working as chiropractors beginning Aug. 1. Gov. Tim Pawlenty gave final approval to the law, which unanimously passed the House and Senate earlier this month.

The law closes a loophole that allowed a Minneapolis chiropractor to regain his license after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting two patients. Legislators acted after the Star Tribune reported in February that the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners felt compelled to reinstate Dr. Scott Fredin’s license, despite his convictions.

The state Board of Medical Practice is already prohibited from issuing a license to a doctor convicted of a felony-level sexual offense. Legislators said they want to expand the restriction to other health professions during the next session.

Do you think other professionals with a sexual misconduct conviction should be barred from working in health fields?

Family might follow deported husband

Posted by: Updated: April 7, 2010 - 6:37 PM

After two months in jail, a Lebanese man married to an American was deported. Tammy Mhanna told her story to the Star Tribune in February while the Roseville woman waited to see if her husband could stay in the country.

Assaf Mhanna applied to become a permanent resident, but he was denied because the government said he falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen when he crossed the border and asked for asylum 11 years ago. Tammy said Assaf called her from a New York airport in late February to say he was on his way to Lebanon. She flew to Lebanon a few days later to see him.

Assaf’s asylum case is still pending, and Tammy said the family will wait for the outcome of that case before they decide whether they will relocate to Lebanon to be together.

Deadbeat parents off the roads

Posted by: Updated: January 11, 2010 - 11:46 AM

Whistleblower frequently gets calls about deadbeat parents shirking child support payments. But one reader had a complaint about the enforcement remedies the state can use to get a non-custodial parent to pay up. The woman’s brother owes child support for his two children, but he lost his job in the construction business a few years ago. Here’s what she wrote: 

“With no job, he was unable to pay child support. As a result, his (driver’s) license was revoked by the state about a year ago. With no license, he can't drive to a job to make money. With no money, he can't get a lawyer to get his license back. The vicious cycle continues.
 
I am in no way advocating for deadbeat dads, but I believe the license revocation penalty is unnecessary and only keeps people under the gigantic thumb of the government with no way out.”
 
According to its website, the Minnesota Department of Human Services can ask the Department of Public Safety to suspend a driver’s license if the non-custodial parent owes past due support that is at least three times the monthly support requirement and the parent is not abiding by a court-approved written payment agreement. The state can take other actions, such as intercepting lottery winnings or a state income tax refund and suspending hunting and fishing licenses.
 
Do actions like these help when it comes to collecting child support? Should the state be allowed to use tools like driver’s license suspension?

Should returning a purchase mean giving up your identity?

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: December 28, 2009 - 11:16 AM

In this season of many returns, one shopper found it impossible to stay anonymous when returning an item that had been paid for in cash. Here's her story:

I returned a garment at [an upscale department store] this past week and was shocked to find that I had to make a choice between getting a refund and giving up my driver's license number.

I know stores have to protect themselves against massive amounts of fraud - but to require that I give up my driver's license number to get my refund on a cash purchase is brutal; especially because I had my receipt and all the garment tags.

That strikes me as hugely unnecessary – something I have never encountered before.

I share this shopper's distaste with the constant requests for my personal information - a few years ago a bait and tackle store asked for my Social Security number before giving me a fishing license. Have you encountered a request like this before? Should shoppers just assume they have no anonymity any more, even with cash?
 

Father of mentally ill man gets his son to the hospital

Posted by: Updated: October 13, 2009 - 11:55 AM

By Lora Pabst

I wrote last week about Jerry Rogers' struggle to get his mentally ill son Scott Rogers to accept medical treatment after a doctor warned he could die of internal bleeding. When the story appeared in the paper Thursday morning, Jerry still didn't know what he was going to do. But that day Scott was admitted to Hennepin County Medical Center because of the pain from his dislocated shoulder, and has been under a 72-hour hold to keep him there for treatment.

Jerry Rogers said he isn't sure what the future holds for his son. He wants to make sure that the authorities in Scott's life work together to avoid a crisis like this one.

Sue Abderholden, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota, hears about plenty of situations like this. Agencies need to do a better job of connecting concerned callers with the proper resources during a mental health crisis, she said. The NAMI Minnesota website includes a page dedicated to mental health crisis services.

The state House Civil Justice Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday to discuss mental illness and the criminal justice system. One of the topics will be mental health crisis responses by health professionals and law enforcement. The hearing will be held at the State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. Room 200, St. Paul, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information, see NAMI's website

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