Sen. Goodwin previews 2016 session

To the Editor:

The 2016 legislative session is beginning, with just six weeks allotted for lawmakers to pass the bills Minnesotans have asked for and need in their daily lives. For this short but busy upcoming session, I will continue to promote improvements to our judicial system and advocate for reformed Mental Health programs.

As a member of the Prison Population Taskforce, I am working to solve the grave problem Minnesota is facing in regard to the rising number of citizens we are imprisoning. Although crime rates have declined, the state is incarcerating more people than ever, which has led to shortages of space within the prison system. One of the major proposals would create a separate sentencing grid for non-violent drug offenders. This could save 255 beds by 2020 and 523 beds by 2028.

In other parts of the country, legislation has been introduced in the area of new prisoner containment technology. A new product called Stun Cuffs has surfaced for the securement of prisoners in transport and within court proceedings. Depending on the model, Stun Cuffs have two to four times more voltage than a police Taser. I will work to introduce legislation prohibiting the use of such extreme measures in our court system.

Another major focus will be to expand Minnesota’s stalking laws to allow for the ability to file a civil cause of action for overexposure, which often takes the form of breakup harassment or “revenge porn.” This last issue has become increasingly important, as the opportunity to share illicit information and photographs has become so prevalent in our lives through social media.

Please feel free to make an appointment to come visit with me about a legislative bill or issue — I welcome your feedback. I can be reached at 651-296-4334 or though my email form on the Senate website at www.senate.mn.

Barb Goodwin

Columbia Heights

Barb Goodwin represents Senate District 41, which includes Columbia Heights, Hilltop, Fridley and New Brighton.