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Ventura Holds Court
By Michael Khoo, Minnesota Public Radio
March 27, 2001
Part of MPR's online coverage of Session 2001
Click for audio RealAudio

Gov. Jesse Ventura revealed more than just his opposition to abortion legislation during an appearance on MPR's Midday program. The governor staked out positions on a host of proposals now under consideration at the Legislature.

What he'll do with abortion-related legislation.

Sports betting.

Chances of legislative success.

The future of the Profile of Learning.

Teachers' right to strike.

The Future of the XFL


GOV. VENTURA GENERALLY DEFERS comments on particular bills until and unless they arrive on his desk. But the governor set aside that longstanding policy to weigh in on a wide cross-section of issues. Ventura has previously endorsed the concept of loosening restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun. He says he's now ready to support a specific plan moving through the Republican-controlled House.

"You can't be a convicted felon; you can't have any mental problems; you have to pass a gun-training course; and you have to pass a minimum requirement of hitting what you aim at," he said. "But I'm a believer that it should be no different, really, if you qualify than getting a driver's license. You have to qualify for that, and if you meet those qualifications, you should have the right to protect yourself."

Opponents of the concealed-carry bill say it will only lead to more handguns on the streets, and, consequently, more violence. The measure may pass in the House, but it's unlikely to advance in the DFL-controlled Senate.

Another proposal moving through the House would allow grocery stores to sell wine. Critics of the plan say it makes alcohol more accessible to teenagers. But Ventura threw his support behind the measure, saying state government currently places too many restrictions on Minnesota businesses. And he heartily endorsed two bills sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis. She wants to legalize betting on sports events on ticket scalping.

"I agree wholeheartedly with her on sports betting. "How can they make (ticket scalping) illegal? That is the epitome of capitalism. If you buy a Beanie Baby - a Beanie Baby costs you what, 50 cents? And yet there were people selling them for $500. Now is that illegal? No."

"You have to ask yourself, 'Is this the role of government?' It is an individual's decision to make. That's the law. So instead of doing this, why don't they just get the Supreme Court to overturn that decision?"

- Gov. Ventura commenting on pending abortion legislation
Ventura and Kahn have clashed in the past, particularly during Ventura's days as a radio talk-show host. Kahn now says it's not so surprising to find the two joining ranks.

"The governor and I do agree on a lot of issues, mainly because he prides himself on his libertarian streak. And I actually have a little bit of a libertarian streak, too," Kahn says.

Kahn says she doesn't expect to pass a ticket-scalping bill this year. Nonetheless, she says this weekend's NCAA Final Four games in Minneapolis should focus attention on the issue.

The governor also took time to comment on the flagging ratings for the XFL, for which he provides color commentary. Ventura has studiously avoided the topic since his first night in the broadcast booth. He now says he's disappointed the upstart football league hasn't attracted more fans.

"It's sad that it didn't catch as well. But if they choose to cancel it, that's their call to make. The players gave their hearts. I gave mine. And all the broadcasters, we're doing the best job we can do, and that's all you can do," he said.

NBC officials are said to be considering dropping the XFL after this season concludes. Ventura didn't indicate whether he'd stick around for another season, although comments from league founder Vince McMahon suggest the governor might not be invited back regardless.