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Local bills advancing deal with wine sales, silencers and dental volunteers

Several bills authored by local lawmakers advanced Wednesday in the Minnesota Legislature.

Good Samaritan dental bill

A bill aimed at making sure the Salvation Army's Good Samaritan Dental Clinic can continue to serve local low-income patients with the help of volunteer dentists won unanimous approval in the Senate.

Rochester Republican Sen. Carla Nelson's bill would makes dentists that volunteer in these sorts of clinics would be exempt from a requirement that at least 10 percent of the patients they see at their private practice be on state assistance. The fear is that if volunteer dentists were subject to this requirement, many would not longer volunteer. The issue is that reimbursements for treating patients on state assistance are well below the actual costs of care, meaning a financial loss for these private clinics.

A similar bill sponsored by Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, is advancing in the Minnesota House.


Good news for wine lovers

Legislation allowing visitors to a wine festival to buy up to six bottles of wine to take home with them got the green light from the Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Red Wing Republican Sen. John Howe, passed the Senate on Wednesday 58 to 4 as part of a larger liquor bill. Howe said the bill gives people a chance to try different wines. If they like them, they can end up buying more from local wineries. While some had voiced fears it could take away business from local liquor stores, the Red Wing lawmaker said he believes it will actually generate more business for these stores if people get a chance to discover new wines they enjoy.

"It's designed to be a win win for everyone," he said.

The legislation still needs to win approval in the House.

Legalizing silencer sales to authorities

Minnesota manufacturers of firearm silencers would be allowed to sell them to law enforcement agencies and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources under a bill that passed the House 91 to 40.

Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester, is sponsoring the legislation. It would allow federally-licensed firearm importers, manufacturers and dealers to sell these silencers in the state — something they cannot do now. Opponents of the bill said the sales could pose a risk to the public because these silencers could be stolen and used from criminal activity. But Benson said these licensed dealers are subject to federal inspections and precautions are in place to prevent that from happening.  He said this bill would create jobs allowing the state's 1,600 dealers and 137 manufacturers the chance to  sell silencers in Minnesota.  


A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.

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