Gov. Mark Dayton today threatened to veto any bill that legalizes firearm suppression devices, commonly known as silencers.
The Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly passed a bill last week that would legalize the devices, which are said to reduce gun noise by about 30 decibels; even the smallest firearms create noise of at least 140 decibels, according the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
In a statement released by his office, Dayton said: "Nowhere in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does it refer to a right to bear a silencer. To allow gunshots to be silenced increases the danger to law enforcement officers, and to innocent bystanders."
Gov. Mark Dayton declared a peacetime state of emergency in response to the avian influenza epidemic afflicting Minnesota turkey farms and poultry farms across the nation.
Dayton said the order will tighten lines of authority in state and local government and allow his office to properly coordinate planning between the Board of Animal Health, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The National Guard is not being called up, but the Guard is participating in collaborative planning.
Roughly 2.5 million birds have been destroyed in Minnesota so far; the state processed 43 million turkeys last year. Chickens, which don't spread the disease as efficiently, are also affected.
Dave Frederickson, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, said there is no threat to human health: "The poultry on grocery store shelves is safe and will continue to be safe." He acknowledged, however, he is worried about the industry. He urged farmers to contact the department if they need help and to practice strict bio-security on their farms.
The United States Department of Agriculture currently has 134 workers on the ground in Minnesota, while the state has 86. The USDA will pay for flock indemnification, depopulation, carcass disposal and testing.
A public health official said they are monitoring 140 Minnesotans who work closely with the birds for potential exposure. They have advised 87 to take a preventive medication; 70 have complied. None have tested positive for the H5N2, the scientific name of the bird flu.
Dayton said he has apprised legislative leaders, and that they have pledged support: "Right now everybody is pulling together, and that's how it should be."
Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy defended a ban on news cameras inside state prisons as a mechanism for protecting crime victims and the inmates themselves, saying it’s less restrictive than other prison policies throughout the country.
“We have gone out of our way to allow face to face interviews with offenders, and the only adjustment to the policy has been the disallowance of cameras,” Roy said Tuesday as he stood alongside Gov. Mark Dayton to discuss the policy with reporters. The policy, which was quietly changed in February, was questioned by Star Tribune columnist James Eli Shiffer, and the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists decried the new policy. In the past, consenting inmates were interviewed on camera for local news stories like the Star Tribune’s Young and Armed series, or this KARE11 story about pregnant inmates finding support while giving birth.
Roy said there was no incident that caused the DOC to adjust the policy, nor did crime victims specifically request it. He added that the department has turned down requests to film from entertainment shows like MSNBC’s prison documentary series “Lockup,” and requests to film music videos. He said banning all cameras makes their policy consistent. The DOC has a media relations staff designed to field questions and requests from reporters. They also monitor face-to-face interviews between the press and inmates. Still, Roy said it would be too difficult for them to discern the difference between news and entertainment.
“The establishment of criteria to make that decision would be very, very difficult.” Roy said. “What offenders, what reporter, what public interest would be served?”
Roy said that, despite that fact that the booking photos and comments made by inmates during interviews would, like photos, remain on the Internet likely indefinitely, photos and news video could have a more striking impact.
“Certainly the public record will continue to exist for those offenders; that is a matter of law,” he said. “Often offenders walk into our doors angry; they often enter in a state of where they are not rational for a period of time. We are far more interested in their future. We cannot change their words, but the issue of a live TV interview that will exist for years and years is a matter of concern.”
As he did yesterday, Dayton continued to stand by Roy and the DOC’s new policy.
“I rely on Commissioner Roy’s excellent judgment in making decisions,” he said. “I think anybody should walk in his shoes for a day or two and see what it’s like in these prisons, and see what they’re dealing with,” Dayton said. “It’s inappropriate for me to micromanage his operating decisions when I don’t have that expertise. He and his associates do, so I stand by his decision.”
Photo: DOC Commissioner Tom Roy and Gov. Mark Dayton defend the news camera ban inside Minnesota prisons
Gov. Mark Dayton said House leadership should publicly admonish Republican Rep. Jim Newberger for his remarks that a rail line connecting north Minneapolis to the state prison in St. Cloud would be "convenient."
“I think it’s horrible, I think he should be reprimanded, if not censured, by his leadership. The fact that nobody has made comment on that in House leadership, I think is appalling,” Dayton told reporters Wednesday.
Newberger, a paramedic from Becker, drew boos on the House floor during Tuesday night’s debate on the GOP transportation budget. The second-term lawmaker noted that the proposed route would take Northstar right past the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud.
"Boy, wouldn't that be convenient to have that rail line going from the prison to north Minneapolis?" Newberger said. Scattered boos could be heard in the chamber. Video here via The Uptake.
Newberger quickly backtracked. "I'm not casting any aspersions on north Minneapolis," he said. "I know some folks got their ire up, and rightfully so. Sometimes as we're speaking - that's what came into my mind.”
Newberger issued a apology Wednesday afternoon.
"I sincerely apologize," he said in a statement. "I recognize my comments last night offended some people. I will work in the future to not repeat this mistake."
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, has not yet publicly responded to Newberger’s statements. A spokeswoman said Wednesday that Daudt spoke with Newberger immediately after Tuesday night's floor session to share his concerns and believes his apologies are appropriate.
Dayton said leadership should make a public statement, regardless of whether Newberger backtracked.
“I think leadership in the House should make a strong statement that it’s totally unacceptable. It’s disgraceful.” Dayton said. “I don’t know the technical terms of sanctions in the House but somebody in House leadership ought to stand up and say publicly that is absolutely out of line and unacceptable and has no place in the Minnesota House or anywhere else.”
Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday defended the Minnesota Department of Corrections’ newly-adopted policy that forbids news cameras during interviews with prison inmates.
“I have an excellent Commissioner of Corrections, and if he makes that kind of operating decision I support him,” Dayton told reporters during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “If he deems it necessary to support for the security of inmates and the personnel that are in those prisons, then I support that.”
Dayton’s comments come days after the Star Tribune’s James Eli Shiffer questioned the policy adopted in February, which now includes news cameras as contraband, lumping them with pornography, lighters, knives and other dangerous objects. A DOC spokeswoman said the policy would prevent victims from being traumatized by seeing an offender’s face in the media, and make it easier for inmates to get jobs once they are released from prison.
Before the policy, inmates could consent to still and video photography by various media outlets, including in the Star Tribune’s “Young and Armed” series, about juvenile gun violence, and this KARE11 story about pregnant prison inmates finding support while giving birth. The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists decried the DOC’s new measure.
A Dayton spokesman said the governor would likely answer more questions about the policy Wednesday alongside DOC Commissioner Tom Roy, but in the meantime, said that he stood behind both Roy and the new policy.
“I don’t require permission to approve everything that comes in,” he said. “…I’m not going to micromanage the agencies. As long as they make the right decisions I’ll support them all the way.”
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