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Legacy funding approved in Senate

Appropriation of legacy funds was unanimously approved by the Senate Thursday in the form of a bill carried by Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria.

The bill would commit $5.5 million for Asian carp barriers and $1.8 million for a University of Minnesota aquatic invasive species research center, among funds for a number of other projects and programs.

The approximately $100 million in the so-called legacy funding comes from a sales tax voters approved in 2008 and is spent on a variety of outdoors, arts and cultural programs.

The House version of the legacy bill appropriates more money for those projects.

Legislators have said the university research center would develop better monitoring, deterrent and eradication procedures for invasive species, from carp and other animals to nonnative plants.

Ingebrigtsen noted the Legislature will be dealing with more environmental issues in separate bills.

"I think this is in the best interest of the people of the state of Minnesota," Senator Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, said of the allotments.

Immunity could be gone

for legislators

driving drunk

A bill clarifying that legislators who drink and drive are not immune from arrest unanimously passed a Senate committee Thursday and now awaits full House and Senate votes.

In Minnesota, legislators get what some consider a "get out of jail free" card protecting them from arrest for certain crimes, and some students from Concordia University in St. Paul are working to exclude drunken driving from that protection.

The students' "No Boozin' and Cruzin' in Minnesota" bill adds drunken driving to an existing list of offenses that still could get lawmakers arrested.

Senator Ingebrigtsen commended the students on the bill and said legislators should not be above the law.

Some senators questioned whether the immunity is from consequences or solely from arrest, but said they did not see the harm in adding this provision.