A bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Wiger that seeks to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning through education got a hearing in the Minnesota Senate last week.
Woodbury residents Kelly and Jeff Lavers testified in favor of the legislation, dubbed , Tuesday before the Senate Transportation Committe.
The bill would require driver’s education courses to address the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and require a question about it on permit tests.
The Lavers' 19-year-old son Tyler—a sophomore at the University of Minnesota—died from carbon monoxide poisoning in December 2010 while working on his car in a garage. The door was wide open.
There is some question regarding how the law would be presented in its final form—as part of a larger omnibus bill or as a stand-alone bill. Regardless, momentum for the measure seems to be building, said Rep. Andrea Kieffer, the Woodbury Republican who authored the House version of the legislation (HF650).
“I think it’s going to eventually prevail,” Kieffer said. “It’s got so much support on both sides of the aisle.”
That bipartisanship was on display when the bill was first proposed, Lavers said. It was initially thought that Sen. Ted Lillie, a Republican who represents Woodbury, would champion the bill in the Senate. Yet Lillie said it would be easier to gain broader support by having a DFLer—Sen. Chuck Wiger of Maplewood— (SF1042) in the upper chamber, Lavers recalled.
“I really respect that about him," she said. "(Lillie) was willing to give up that glory, if you will, just so it has bipartisan support when it goes to the governor’s desk."
Wiger, meanwhile, said there are hundreds of people across the U.S. who die each year from accidental carbon monoxide poising, and thousands more go to emergency rooms.
“The bottom line is that this is a prevention measure designed to save lives,” he said.
“It’s a very sad, tragic story that the Lavers shared with us about Tyler,” Wiger added. “By requiring more information in the instruction that goes on, it’s going to ultimately lead to more awareness."
There is a $44,000 fiscal note for administrative costs of adding a carbon monoxide question to the driver’s license exam, including translation and test-scoring costs, according to a fact sheet on the bill from Wiger's office.
Lavers said people who see something that they would like to change should contact their lawmakers.
“Jeff and I and the kids are so appreciative to be able to work with these legislators,” she said. “They’ve been more than helpful. And I encourage others who have issues to talk to them. They bend over backwards.”
Here’s what’s happened this past week with other bills authored or co-authored by your legislators:
Sen. Chuck Wiger—Introduced a bill that would modify the state’s resource recovery program. SF1266, introduced April 26.
Sen. Chuck Wiger—Introduced a bill that changes a provision in the state’s geospatial advisory council. SF1270, introduced April 26.
Rep. Nora Slawik—Co-sponsored a bill that would require reporting of harmful chemicals in child products and specify how to treat harmful chemicals that are trade secrets. HF1590, introduced April 27.
Sen. Chuck Wiger—Co-sponsored a bill that puts a mediation process in place to resolve conflicts between manufactured home park owners and residents. SF1327, introduced April 28.