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Child marriage bill will be given a hearing

This bill has bipartisan support and will be heard in my committee this year.

Having raised a daughter, I believe one of the most important jobs of the Legislature is to protect the innocence of our children. In a Community Voices commentary by Ellen J. Kennedy on the child marriage bill on Feb. 7, I was quoted as saying, “If a Hmong father wants to marry off his teen-age daughter to an older man for a good dowry, who am I to stand in his way?” I do not recall saying this, and it’s not my position on this bill. In fact, this bill has bipartisan support and will be given a hearing in my committee this year.

I have a long record of caring about crime victims, particularly those who are victims of human trafficking and sexual assault. Victims deserve to have their voices heard, and I have worked in a bipartisan manner to craft legislation that actually shows results in our state. For many years, I have worked with law enforcement and county attorneys to vigorously investigate and prosecute sexual assault. In 2018, I worked with prosecutors and victims’ advocates to write a bill that protects girls from female genital mutilation. Last year, I responded to the Star Tribune’s “Denied Justice” reports by encouraging more cooperation with criminal justice partners when women report sexual assaults, and the law that was enacted strengthens our sexual assault laws and increases the penalties for child pornographers.

I have and will continue to support Minnesota’s victims of sexual assault and human trafficking. I look forward to working with victim advocates and law enforcement to help victims and enforce tough penalties on the perpetrators.

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, is assistant majority leader; he chairs the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy committee.