Toxic Free Kids Survive!

“Out four days without an ax, kettle, or even a tin cup”.
Martin McLeod
The young Canadian adventurer Martin McLeod would gain a reputation for surviving near death predicaments in his adventures as an explorer and fur trader on the Minnesota frontier. Martin arrived in Minnesota on one of the strangest expeditions known to Minnesota history due to his signing onto the expedition of “General” James Dickson.
Dickson was never a true general of a formal government-sanctioned army to anyone’s knowledge, but rather of his own mercenary force known as “The Liberator of the Indian Nations”.  This mysterious man with a British accent had grand visions in 1836 of being a leader — a king to be exact — of a great nation stretching from Santa Fe to the California coast.  He would be the Liberator of the grateful tribes of northern Mexico from the oppressive Mexican government.  His plan, oddly enough, started in Montréal where he recruited some young adventurers and then headed for the Red River Valley. It was there he was going to raise an army of Indian liberators amongst the notoriously fierce Matis warriors who resided in and around the Pembina.
That expedition was an embarrassing failure with most of Dickson’s men abandoning him before finally stumbling into Pembina nearly dead. Martin was one of the few that survived this ill-advised trek across Minnesota in the winter. Martin broke ranks with Dickson and made his way towards St. Paul to join up with the fur trading interests he knew of through his youth growing up in Montréal. On that trip he also nearly died in a raging blizzard just west of Big Stone Lake. He would later join fur-trading businesses in St. Paul where he furthered his reputation for being creative in surviving harrowing expeditions on the prairies of Minnesota.
Martin would later gain a prominent place in our history as a member of the territorial legislature and a strong advocate for a land-grant university that he aggressively campaigned to be placed in its present St. Anthony’s location. So respected was he among his territorial colleagues, they would name his county of residence after him. It was there that he settled and founded the city of Glencoe.
Like Martin McLeod, the small band of intrepid lobbyists advocating for the passage of the Toxic Free Kids Act (TFKA) had to figure out some very creative ways of surviving the dangers of legislative session this last week. The legislative process in Minnesota requires a bill to have passed all of its committees by the legislative deadline. That deadline was last Friday and the TFKA bill was still bottled up in a policy committee. Thanks to the ingenuity and tenacity of its chief author in the House, Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley), the TFKA bill found new life.
The bill was procedurally moved with no time to spare into the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee. It was there that chairwoman Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis) breathed life back into the near dead bill by attaching it as an amendment to the Omnibus Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Bill. Despite much howling by the minority and several procedural moves to kill the poor little bill, it seems to have found new life. It is not out of the blizzard yet, but there is positive hope for its success.
The TFKA bill is a very sensible proposition requiring manufacturers of children’s products to simply notify the state when their products are made with one of the 9 most dangerous chemicals designated by the Minnesota Department of Health. That information would then be made available to consumers so they can make a determination whether they want to buy children’s jewelry made with lead or a toy car made with mercury.
If you have the time, this would be a good place in the session to encourage your legislators to support TFKA. I think the crafty old survivor Martin McLeod would be pleased with the bill’s progress so far, but it still has a ways to go before it is safely passed.

About John Tuma

John is a former state legislator and litigation attorney. He served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for eight years from the Northfield area, beginning in 1994. Elected as a Republican, John was known for his independent thinking and ability to work across party lines. He is well-known in Minnesota state government circles.
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