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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Pat Garofalo (R)

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GAROFALO TO STATE: STAY OUT OF PEOPLE'S PERSONAL COMPUTERS: Bill introduced to stop state agencies from blocking access to internet gaming websites

Monday, May 04, 2009
ST PAUL - State Representative Pat Garofalo [R-Farmington] today introduced legislation that would bar the Minnesota Department of Public Safety from forcing Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to Internet gaming sites. The legislation comes in response to an April 29, 2009 letter from the state Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division that directs eleven ISPs to block access to nearly 200 gambling websites. “The Department of Public Safety has to have better things to do with their time than to go after a college kid in his dorm room or some guy sitting in his basement spending a couple of hours playing online poker,” said Rep. Garofalo. “Demanding that a private-sector Internet service provider block access to websites is not a proper function of our state government.” The legislation introduced by Garofalo would stop the Department of Public Safety from blocking access to websites without prior legislative approval; though the Department would be able to recommend legislation that would authorize such investigations or enforcement actions. “I’m certainly not condoning online gambling,” said Garofalo. “But I have serious concerns about government banning access to web sites. This is the kind of thing they do in communist China, not the United States of America. Besides, how about we focus on balancing the state’s $6.4 billion budget deficit and not harassing Minnesotans anymore than Democrat legislative leaders are already trying to do.”