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Dayton signs 'Tyler's Law' into the books

Gov. Mark Dayton discusses state flood preparation during a meeting Wednesday in Stillwater. Dayton said he would support an effort to permanently resolve Newport's decades-old Mississippi River levee problem, such as by offering the city state funds to buy flood-threatened properties. Bulletin photo by Jon Avise.

In a legislative session punctuated by disagreement, lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton found nothing to argue about in a bill driven by a Woodbury family.

Dayton signed "Tyler's Law" into the books May 24 held a ceremonial signing Tuesday.

Though the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled Legislature could not come to terms on an overall budget deal - under threat of a partial government shutdown - Tyler's Law drew no protest.

House members passed the bill 131-0, while senators passed the bill 64-0.

The law establishes driving training and testing provisions on carbon monoxide poisoning.

The law calls for the state's public safety department to amend its administrative rules on driver education to include information about carbon monoxide poisoning. It requires carbon monoxide be included as a question on the driver's license knowledge test and also requires the department to include information on carbon monoxide in the driver's manual.

The bill came to the Legislature after the death of a Woodbury teenager over the winter. Tyler Lavers, the man for whom the bill was named, died while working on his car in cold temperatures.

He kept his car running while he worked, but left a garage door open - presumably thinking it was ventilating the space from dangerous carbon monoxide gases.

It hadn't.

Doctors suspected Lavers was dead within minutes, unaware that the odorless gas was not escaping the garage.

"The reality is, this is a death that didn't need to happen," said Tyler's mother, Kelly Lavers.

His family sought a change in Minnesota laws to help prevent future deaths from occurring.

Kelly Lavers, who said she normally wouldn't be the type of person to take up a cause, said support for the bill was easy to garner at the Capitol.

"I didn't have to do a lot of convincing," she said. "The concept sold itself. It just needed a champion."

That Dayton also signed off on the bill capped a meaningful experience, Kelly Lavers said.

"It really validates our efforts in creating this awareness," she said, adding that Tyler would be "smiling, standing a little taller" if he could see the bill becoming state law.

The law's chief sponsor in the House, Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, said other lawmakers expressed surprise that carbon monoxide information was not required reading for Minnesota drivers.

"It's very important to have this go through (to Dayton)," she said. "It's a public safety issue."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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