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Health-care reform passes Senate

A health-care reform proposal passed the Senate over some opposition.

Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, complained that a fee placed on health insurers and hospitals will hurt rural Minnesotans especially hard.

It passed 39-23 on Monday after a preliminary vote last week.

Among other things, the bill creates a statewide health improvement plan providing grants to local communities to curb obesity and tobacco use. It also encourages physicians and nurses to work closely with people with chronic diseases and expands eligibility for state-subsidized health insurance programs.

Greenhouse plan advances

Senators preliminarily approved, on a voice vote, a procedure to annually look at ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

The bill by Rep. Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth, requires state officials to regularly to tell lawmakers progress being made reduce greenhouse gases and their suggestions for new laws to help speed that progress. It also requires state officials to look at other states' efforts.

Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said that if greenhouse gas reduction is the goal, state law should be changed to allow nuclear power plant construction because they do not produce greenhouse gases that may damage the ozone layer. However, no one tried to amend Prettner Solon's bill.