The Legislature overrode Gov. Jesse Ventura's veto of a bill aimed at keeping Ah-Gwah-Ching Nursing Center operating in Walker.
The Senate voted 60-3 on Monday to override the veto. The House overturned the measure on a 125-5 vote on April 4. Sen. Tony Kinkel, DFL-Park Rapids, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said the measure clarifies eligibility requirements for the home, which is designed for people who are either violent or who might suffer from serious dementia or schizophrenia.
"Ah-Gwah-Ching is the nursing home of last resort," Kinkel said. "You can not get into Ah-Gwah-Ching unless your private nursing home can not handle you."
He said the actions of the two legislative bodies send an unmistakable message to the commissioner of human services regarding the lawmakers' intentions for the nursing home.
He said there were about 200 employees who staff 24-hour shifts at the center. There are about 134 clients at Ah-Gwah-Ching, he said.
This is only the sixth legislative override of a governor's veto since 1939.
Rep. Larry Howes, R-Hackensack, sponsored the bill in the House and was pleased the bill now becomes law.
"Thank you, Sen. Kinkel," he said Monday in reaction to Monday's Senate override. "Thanks to all the folks in Walker who called him and (Majority Leader) Roger Moe's office. It's a victory for Ah-Gwah-Ching. It's a victory for the residents there and for the people of Walker."
Sen. Martha Robertson, R-Minnetonka, was one of the three who voted against the veto override. She said Kinkel didn't present a logical explanation of why the legislation was needed.
''I still am not sure it makes sense,'' she said.
Ventura said he had nothing to say when asked for his reaction to the override. He had said the bill was not needed.
Ventura's predecessor, Gov. Arne Carlson, set a record for vetoes, but none were overridden. Unlike Ventura -- a former Reform Party member who is now an independent -- Carlson had fellow Republicans in the Legislature.
Last year's veto override -- the first in 18 years -- allowed people to sue over defective seat belts.
(This story contains information compiled by The Associated Press.)
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