House DFL Leadership railroads Baby DNA bill to passage

Amended House Bill (HF1341) will enable the Health Department and the Mayo Clinic to KEEP their Baby DNA Warehouses

Rights Quashed

On March 17, 2009,  members of the Minnesota House pushed the Baby DNA bill (HF 1341) through the House health policy committee at break neck speed, focusing on testing rather than storage and use of baby DNA, preventing testimony from being heard, and ruling against attempts to add parent consent requirements.

Footage of the hearing starting at 1:04:21 and ending at 1:42:00

Most at fault:

Rep. Tina Liebling (D-Rochester)  - representing Mayo Clinic

(see letter)

Rep. Kim Norton (D-Rochester) - representing Mayo Clinic


Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) - Republican Lead 

Here's what happened:

group shot

  • CCHC's "Baby DNA" signs (8.5x11in.) were shut down. (1:05:37) Against First Amendment rights, Rep. Liebling, acting as Committee Chair for hearing on Chairman Thissen's bill, announced publicly that it was against House rules for CCHC supporters to have signs in the committee room.
  • Only about 12 out of 70 letters sent by the public to the Committee were published as written testimony. The rest were omitted.


  • Of the five people who asked to testify against the bill, only Twila Brase, CCHC's president (wearing a "PROTECT BABY DNA" sticker) was allowed to testify. Everyone else was shut out. (1:30:20)

rep. norton

  • Rep. Liebling interrupted Ms. Brase while she was testifying to let Rep. Norton challenge Brase's assertion that the health department did not have the right to collect, store and use baby blood when they began in 1997. (1:33:48) Brase explained Norton's error to everyone in the audience and everyone watching the television coverage. Norton had earlier argued (1:21:25) for Mayo retaining the blood for Mayo research, pointing our the Mayo Clinic letter to the committee and saying they aren't an "evil entity." Rep. Leibling interrupted Ms. Brase again toward the end of her testimony to say "wrap up, Ms. Brase."


  • Rep. Abeler, co-author of HF 1341, offered an amendment to KEEP the nearly 12-yr old baby DNA warehouse in operation for two more years, until 2011 (1:12:56). However, his likely intent is to promise to discard the DNA in 2011, but to keep the warehouse intact long after. Here's how: in 2011, potentially under a new administration, the health department can simply bring a bill to extend the expiration date into the future or to repeal the discard requirement altogether. Rep. Abeler's expiration dates on controversial proposals have become permanent in the past. See HF 1554 (this year's attempt to repeal Rep. Abeler's 2005 expiration date regarding citizen due process rights)


  • When Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano) tried to add a parent consent amendment, (1:38:10) Liebling ruled that it was not allowed. When Liebling's ruling was challenged, Rep. Abeler refused to support his Republican colleague Rep. Emmer in the roll call vote on Liebling's ruling. Instead of voting in support of Emmer, Republican Lead Abeler chose not to vote. On a vote of 13-6, Liebling's rule held and no parent consent amendment was allowed to be offered.
  • After raised voices, the committee passed the bill with Abeler's "keep the DNA warehouse for two more years" amendment included.
  • Also, Rep. Thissen, author of the bill, discussed the pending parent lawsuit against MDH. When asked why he's not waiting for the conclusion of the lawsuit, he said, "we want to get this law clarified." He added, "It'll save litigation costs if we pass this bill because that'll take one part of that lawsuit and maybe most of that lawsuit away." (1:15:00).

These disturbing events can be viewed online, starting at 1:04:21.


Contact Info

Last year Governor Pawlenty vetoed a similar bill. However, the Minnesota Department of Health believes it had the Governor's approval for this bill. This year's bill failed in the Senate, but is expected to return. This is your opportunity to state your opinion to the Governor and to your legislators...who are have to vote on the bill.


Governor Tim Pawlenty:; 651-296-3391; 1-800-657-3717

State Representative:

State Senator:

House Information: 651-296-2146

Senate Information: 651-296-0504