House passes 'Final Wishes' bill

  • Updated: May 11, 2010 - 11:28 PM

The House approved a measure that would give domestic partners the power of "Final Wishes."

Domestic-partner bill advances

Domestic partners would have the right to determine what happens with the remains of a deceased partner under a bill passed by the Minnesota House on Tuesday.

The "Final Wishes" bill defines domestic partners and gives them decision-making power ahead of children, siblings and parents after a partner's death.

The measure would also give domestic partners the right to sue for damages in cases of wrongful death.

The bill passed the House 78-55 and will go to a conference committee to work out differences between this version and one in the Senate.

The bill faces a likely veto by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, however. Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said it is unnecessary because people can already designate whomever they want to make such decisions. It "seems to be a political exercise to get the term 'domestic partner' into state law," McClung added.

House Republicans criticized the bill as divisive and a diversion at a time when legislators are trying to resolve a $3 billion budget deficit. But Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, a nurse and nursing instructor at St. Catherine University who sponsored the House bill, said it is one step toward reversing what she said are more than 500 examples of discrimination against same-sex partners in Minnesota law. It should also help families address tough decisions more easily at the time of a loved one's death, she said.

BILL MCAULIFFE

Pawlenty signs domestic abuse bill

Text messages meant to intimidate would be gross misdemeanors under a law raising the criminal level of a range of domestic abuse behaviors that was signed by Gov. Pawlenty on Monday.

The law also would allow courts to include a specific admonition against pet abuse in a protection order, because pet abuse is often used as intimidation, said Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and Sen. Mee Moua, DFL-St. Paul, two of the bill's sponsors.

The law establishes tighter definitions of stalking, allows courts to establish an area around a property that would be included in protection orders and further restricts public disclosure of data in domestic abuse and sexual assault programs.

Bail for people jailed in domestic abuse cases would also be raised.

The bill passed both houses without a single opposing vote.

Moua said the bill adds valuable tools in the fight against domestic violence.

BILL MCAULIFFE

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