(Alexandria, MN) Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R) has been watching the process of the Democrat's approach to the vaping epidemic and is now coming forth to offer another option. The state of Minnesota is suing e-cigarette maker Juul, claiming the company created a public nuisance and violated several consumer protection laws in the way it marketed and sold its vaping products. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed the suit in Hennepin County Court on Wednesday, marking a pre-emptive strike on a rapidly increasing health problem in the state. Ingebrigtsen feels the matter should not be handled in the courts, but rather at the State Capitol.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a student survey conducted by the Minnesota Health Department, released in October. The results showed 11 percent of eighth graders, 16 percent of ninth graders and 26 percent of 11th graders vaped in the 30 days prior to the survey, representing an increase between 50 and 100 percent from the previous year, depending on the grade.
As the vaping craze soared in schools across the nation and Minnesota, Juul became the target of lawsuits and mounting public pressure over its marketing.
Minnesota’s current lawsuit targets many of those same aspects as evidence, claiming the company targeted school-aged kids with youth-oriented designs, flavors and marketing, and failed to disclose that Juul pods contain higher doses of nicotine than traditional cigarettes.
Governor Tim Walz added that his administration wants to get e-cigarettes out of the hands of kids while providing them the help beat addiction to nicotine, noting addiction is often an underlier to mental health issues. “We need to get them the help they need,” Walz said. “These are not bad kids. These are things that have been hoisted upon them.”
Ingebrigtsen talks further about what he feels is an accompanying and almost contradictory concern; the Governor's support of legalizing marijuana. (AUDIO BELOW)
In St. Paul Minnesota budget officials are projecting a $1.3 billion surplus in the current two-year budget period thanks to an improving economic outlook. Minnesota Management and Budget announced the forecast Thursday morning ahead of a more detailed presentation later in the day. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders from both parties plan to comment on the outlook afterward.
The improved forecast helps set the stage for spending debates in the 2020 legislative session, which convenes Feb. 11. Tops on the session's agenda will be crafting a public works borrowing package, also known as a bonding bill. But lawmakers are bound to have ideas for what to do with the extra money. Ingebrigtsen was on the Senate Bonding Tour this fall. He likes what he sees when it comes to the surplus helping with the many needs facing communities across the state. (AUDIO BELOW)
The budget agency says a better-than-expected close to the last budget period, an improved revenue forecast, and a small decrease in estimated spending are contributing to the projected surplus.
Written with additional information from Learfield Wire Services - TTWN Media Networks