News & Features
Session 2002

Ventura signs anti-terrorism bill
By Ashley Grant
Associated Press
May 22, 2002

ST. PAUL (AP) - Gov. Jesse Ventura on Wednesday signed the Legislature's last-ditch compromise on anti-terrorism initiatives, saying it didn't go far enough, but that every little bit helps.

The final bill was a shadow of what lawmakers discussed at the beginning of session.

When it passed the Legislature Sunday morning, nearly all that remained in the measure was $13 million for training and equipment for emergency workers.

Stripped from the bill was a House push to have some foreigners in the country on visas be issued color-coded state drivers' licenses so police could identify them more easily.

Also gone was a plan to raise revenues through an increased monthly telephone surcharge to fund an improved emergency communication system. State telephone bills would show a 23-cent increase in the monthly 911 surcharge to pay for the system.

The Legislature's failure to pass tougher driver's license standards prompted Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver to take matters into his own hands Tuesday.

Weaver said he will use an administrative rule to try to require that any foreign visitor's driver's license indicate when the holder's visa expires. Such a provision would be enacted only after a period of public comment and a review by an administrative law judge.

The department hopes to put the policy into place as soon as July.

In the Legislature, some opposition had centered on using a color code for driver's licenses held by immigrants here on visas. Under Weaver's plan, the driver's license and visa merely will have the same expiration date. If police officers or other officials see that the visa date has expired, federal immigration officials would be notified.

Current law requires issuing a four-year driver's license to an immigrant even if his or her visa is on the verge of expiring.

More from MPR
  • Session 2002 Issue Briefing: Public Safety