ST. PAUL -- A far-reaching anti-terrorism bill is alive and working its way to the House floor, despite concerns that the tighter security it envisions would come at the price of individual freedoms.
It passed the House Crime Prevention Committee on Friday by a voice vote, meeting a deadline for getting policy bills out of committees.
The sponsors have ambitious hopes for the bill. They say it will cloak now-public information terrorists might find useful, give prosecutors harsher punishments and pay for better training and equipment for police and others who would be first on the scene any disasters.
But lawmakers haven't settled on how to pay the bill's estimated $25 million cost. One sponsor suggested the lottery come up with a special scratch-off ticket featuring Osama bin Laden.
Critics have raised a variety of concerns about the bill, including its requirement for a special color code on the driver's licenses of foreigners who are in the country on resident visas.
The provision is intended to give police a quick reminder to check that the foreigners haven't overstayed their visa terms; licenses would expire at the same time as the visas.
But immigrant community leaders questioned whether that color-code will subject them to unwarranted scrutiny at, say, the grocery store when they try to cash a check.
The bill also creates a new state crime of terrorism, along with penalties for it. But committee members struggled to define terrorism.
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