ST. PAUL -- The Senate put ''Katie's Law'' back on track Friday and unanimously approved the legislation to tighten and strengthen Minnesota's sex offender laws.
But some House members are uneasy with a few provisions, and the bill might have to go to conference committee.
''If they want to go to conference committee, we will hold them accountable for delaying this bill,'' said Sen. Randy Kelly, DFL-St. Paul.
The bill includes stricter penalties for the most serious sex offenses, increased accounting of registered offenders and $12.5 million in seed money for a statewide computer network to track all criminals.
''Katie's Law will now be synonymous with harsh sentences for rapists and molesters and giving Minnesota's children more freedom from the threat of sex offenders,'' said Sen. Claire Robling, the Prior Lake Republican who fought for the longer prison sentences despite concerns over cost.
The legislation was motivated by recent high-profile crimes, most notably the death of Katie Poirier, a 19-year-old from Barnum who was abducted from the convenience store where she worked.
Last week, the House unanimously approved its version. Some differences between the two bills were worked out this week, but there are potential disagreements over the stiffer prison sentences and an advisory board to monitor the formation of the computer network.
A House committee will discuss the items Monday. The full House could consider whether to adopt the Senate version sometime next week. If the House goes along, the bill would go to Gov. Jesse Ventura.
House Judiciary Finance Chairwoman Sherry Broecker, R-Vandnais Heights, said she is anxious to put the bill on Ventura's desk. He has not indicated whether he will support it because of the required spending.
But Broecker believes the public emotion attached to the Poirier case would make a Ventura veto tough.
''He doesn't have a choice,'' she said. ''I don't think he could veto this bill if he wanted to.''
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