Legislature OKs meth bill; budget debate nears end

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Many Minnesotans -- and state legislators -- are wondering if there will ever be a conclusion to this year's state budget.

However, lawmakers are insisting the budget could be wrapped up as early as today. And thanks to a local drug task force, along with a big push from an Austin legislator, changes are expected to be made on how people can be prosecuted when it comes to the ever-growing problem of manufacturing methamphetamine.

State Rep. Jeff Anderson, R-Austin, said the House and Senate approved a bill that will prosecute those who manufacture methamphetamine. The bill was part of the larger judiciary omnibus bill, which cleared both branches of government and is expected to be signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty by the end of the week.

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Anderson said police before could pull over someone who had all the apparent materials to manufacture methamphetamine, but nothing could be done.

With the stroke of Pawlenty's pen, that will change.

"The idea had been floated around before by the task force, but it never had any backing before," Anderson said. "So I kind of made it my issue for this session to help crack down on the manufacturing of methamphetamine in this area."

Anderson also thanked Mower County State's Attorney Patrick Flanagan, Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi and Austin Police Chief Paul Philipp.

"I give a lot of credit to them," Anderson said. "I really do think (this bill) is something that will be useful to curb this problem. I hope this is one way that we can start to curb that."

Those found guilty with the intent to manufacture the drug would face a felony charge and a three-year prison sentence and/or a $5,000 fine.