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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Brian Johnson (R)

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Legislative Update

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As your representative in St. Paul, I want to keep you updated on important issues happening at the Capitol and in our district. Here is a rundown of some important things happening this week.

Drone Bill

House File 1994, a bill that I chief authored moved through two House committees this week. The bill, which prohibits the use of unmanned aerial cameras without a warrant by law enforcement agencies, was heard in the Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee on Tuesday and the Civil Law Committee on Friday.

As drone technology continues to advance, state law needs to strike a balance between the needs of law enforcement and the individual liberties of citizens. Law enforcement must have a warrant or reasonable suspicion before being able to use any drone in an investigation. House File 1994 updates state statute to deal with modern crime fighting technology and gives law enforcement parameters on when and where they can legally use drones.

With bipartisan support, I hope this bill will continue to advance this session and be signed into law soon.

Update on Cambridge Treatment Home and Department of Human Services

On Saturday, I attended a community meeting in Cambridge Township to discuss the state run residential treatment home expected to open this month. It was well attended by residents living within a mile radius of the home, and they shared their serious and valid concerns with DHS officials.

Opening next to a church and school, DHS did not consider the ramifications of moving potentially dangerous, developmentally-disabled adults to this quiet neighborhood. They have unnecessarily put children and families directly in harm’s way and did not properly notify residents or listen to public input before signing the lease. This is a serious lapse of judgment on their part, and the state has let down that community.

It was great to hear from residents on this issue at the meeting last week, but I fear it is too little too late.

Legislation Requiring DHS to Give Public Notification

As a result of the ongoing disregard for public well-being by DHS, I introduced a bill this week that would require state agencies to notify the public before signing a lease. This means that if the state is moving potentially dangerous people to your neighborhood, DHS will have to hear from the public and take it under consideration if schools, churches, public playgrounds, etc. are close to the home in question before moving forward.

I will work hard to advance House File 2982 this session and continue to fight on behalf of Cambridge Township residents. They deserve better than the contempt and disregard that DHS has shown them this past year.

As always, it is an honor to serve as your state representative. Please contact me with any concerns or questions you may have.