ST. PAUL -- The prospect of metal detectors at the state Capitol received a spirited response from some members of the Senate Transportation Budget Division on Thursday.
Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna, and Sen. Bill Belanger, R-Bloomington, jumped to criticize proposals for substantial security increases.
In particular, Day singled out Ventura, ticking off the governor's activities and comments since he took office, from marketing action figures, selling his car on eBay to joking about suicide, Iowa and fat people.
''And he gets threats,'' an incredulous Day said. ''My God anybody would get threats if they did this kind of stuff.''
Day questioned whether proposals to increase security aren't coming because ''we have a governor that's always talking and talking and talking and riling everybody up.''
A security task force presented security options to the Legislature in January after meeting for several months.
Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Director Nick O'Hara presented the report to the panel which also heard a bill sponsored by Sen. Randy Kelly, DFL-St. Paul.
Law enforcement officials say incidents at the Capitol have increased, from threatening letters to harassment.
''We cannot gamble that things are going to remain safe and sane,'' O'Hara said.
Weaver said despite wanting to increase security, the priority is on maintaining ''the ability of the average citizen to walk in and have access to elected officials.''
Under the task force options, security at public entrances would resemble the setup at airports and federal buildings, with metal detectors and X-ray machines. Those frequently at the Capitol -- legislators, lobbyists, state workers and reporters -- would be issued badges for easy access.
The four options include varying levels of additional officers and equipment and range in price from $1.8 million to $6 million.
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