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Political Notebook: Norton to push for stricter gun laws in final term

.Fed up with gun violence, retiring Rep. Kim Norton said she plans to introduce a package of ‘commonsense’ gun law changes during her final legislative session.

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Fed up with gun violence, retiring Rep. Kim Norton said she plans to introduce a package of 'common sense' gun law changes during her final legislative session.

"I just can't take it anymore. This will be a bill that hopefully will be common sense, smart things that we could do that would help us get a little bit of a grip of who has guns, where they are," Norton said.

The Rochester Democrat does not expect her gun bill will pass the Minnesota Legislature and doesn't even know if it will get a hearing. But Norton said she feels compelled to introduce the legislation because she is fed up with all the gun-related violence.

"This (bill) will not pass, and I know that, but I am going to put together a comprehensive package of gun legislation because I have had it with all the gun deaths and what is going on," she said.

Norton announced last week she is not running for re-election in 2016. She has said she is considering running for Rochester mayor in 2018 but will not run if current Mayor Ardell Brede runs again.


Norton is still working on crafting the bill but said her legislation will focus on making it easier to keep track of gun ownership. She noted that if she sells her kayak to someone, she has to register who she gave it to and questions why the same laws don't always apply in the case of firearms.

"I just think there are some really simple things we could do that would help us with the crisis we're in," she said.

Norton said she knows some people in her district will be unhappy that she is pursuing this issue.

"I know that will make people mad," she said.

The five-term lawmaker will also renew her fight to pass a bill require anyone convicted of DWI to have an ignition interlock installed. The device, which is the size of a cellphone, is a breathalyzer that attaches to a car's dashboard. Drivers must blow into a tube, and if the device detects a measurable amount of alcohol, the car will not start.

Norton's bill would require first-time offenders to have the ignition interlock installed for one year. Second-time offenders would have to have it installed for two years and third-time offenders would be required to have it for five years.

The Rochester Democrat will also push legislation aimed at making it easier for nurses to practice across state lines. Norton has introduced a bill that would require Minnesota to join the Nurse Licensing Compact. Nurses who live in states that participate in the compact are able to practice in the 25 member states.

Norton said she expects a tough fight to get the bill passed. The Minnesota Nurses Association has opposed having the state join the compact in the past, arguing it will hurt nursing quality and jeopardize patient safety. In 2012, similar legislation passed the House and Senate but DFL Gov. Mark Dayton told lawmakers he would not sign it, Norton said.


Getting treated for skin cancer

The same week Norton announced she would not run for re-election in 2016, she also underwent surgery for skin cancer. She was recently diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma.

Norton said the cancer was found on her lip. A scaley spot developed that would repeatedly bleed. She eventually had it checked out and that is when doctors made the diagnosis. Norton said doctors believe they were able to remove all of the cancerous cells. In the meantime, she is wearing a bandage on her lip as it heals.

The Rochester lawmaker said the diagnosis had nothing to do with her decision not to seek another term.

She said her recent diagnosis is a reminder of the importance of wearing sunscreen and a hat.

"Those of us who got sunburned a lot as kids are facing this," she said.

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