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Mendota Heights Rep. Wants Annual Invasive Species Decal for Watercraft

Each week, Patch takes a closer look at the activities of Dakota and Rice Counties' legislators as part of our Capitol Review.

You may not be able to operate your boat, jetski or other watercraft in Minnesota waters unless the watercraft is tagged with an invasive species decal, under a new plan proposed by District 52A Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL).

Hansen's bill would require boat owners to purchase an annual decal for fees ranging from $5 to $30 in order to float their boats in Minnesota. The decal fees would be used to battle the spread of aquatic invasive species. The decals would also have to be placed on a visible part of the boat. An issuing fee of $1 would also be charged to people purchasing the stickers under Hansen's plan.

In other political news around the county:

District 20 (Northfield)

District 20B Rep. David Bly (DFL) wants to appropriate roughly $1.6 million in 2014 and $1.6 million in 2015 from the state's general fund to fund programs supporting the victims of sexual violence.

But the proposal Bly is backing doesn't stop there. Under the proposed bill, $640,000 would be spent in 2014 and again in 2015 to establish and expand services to all Minnesota counties and Native American reservations.

District 51B (Eagan)

Dakota County's newest regional park, Whitetail Woods, could get an infusion of cash under a plan backed by District 51B Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL) and a handful of other legislators.

The bill, HF 1119, would appropriate a total of roughly $6.4 million for the restoration and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat in the metropolitan regional parks system.

That amount would include $500,000 to convert agricultural land and low-quality woods and grassland in Whitetail Woods Regional Park to prairie and oak savanna. Another $60,000 would be earmarked to protect the Miesville Ravine Park Reserve with earth shaping and slope stabilization.

District 56 (Burnsville)

Parents of minor children who are seeking a divorce would be required to take a four-hour marriage dissolution education course, under a proposal backed by District 56 Sen. Dan D. Hall (R).

Under the bill's provisions, a couple getting divorced would have to complete the program prior to their first court appearance or hearing, or within 30 days of the first filing with the court. The program would focus on constructive parenting during the divorce process, risk factors for families and the impact of divorce on children, among other topics.

District 57 (Apple Valley, Rosemount)

Educational institutions in Minnesota could not compel a student to grant the school access to the student's personal Internet accounts—nor could the school allow observation of those accounts, under a proposal supported by District 57 B Rep. Anna Wills (R).

The bill, called the Education Internet Privacy Act, would also make it unlawful for school officials to expel or discipline a student for refusing to grant access to a personal Internet account. The bill was authored by District 8B Rep. Mary Franson (R).

District 58 (Lakeville)

District 58 Sen. Dave Thompson (R) wants to increase the penalties for those convicted of killing or assaulting a prosecuting attorney in Minnesota.

State law currently dictates that anyone who kills a peace officer or correctional facility guard be charged with felony first-degree murder. Thompson's proposal would add prosecuting attorneys to that list of protected public servants. Anyone convicted of assault with deadly force against a prosecuting attorney could face a maximum of 20 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.

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