Genetic Material Bill Gets First Hearing
[MMA News Now, March 7, 2013] The handling of genetic material is once again up for discussion at the Capitol with the introduction of HF 589 by Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL - Minneapolis). This time, however, it does not directly involve newborn screening.
Kahn’s bill deals with the collection, storage, use and dissemination of genetic material in the monitoring of disease outbreaks, cancer monitoring, food safety, and many other department activities, a practice that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has conducted for years.
The legislation comes more than a year after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling (“Bearder vs. the State of Minnesota”) that determined blood samples collected and stored by MDH as part of its newborn screening program are “genetic information” and, therefore, the department must obtain informed consent before using, storing or disseminating the remaining blood samples under the Genetic Privacy Act.
As a result of this ruling, the whole issue of the MDH handling genetic material came under question. Last year’s Legislature asked the health department to bring forward a larger genetic material proposal to clarify its activities, which is what HF 589 does.
The Senate bill, SF 1017, is authored by Sen. John Marty (DFL – Roseville) and is set to be heard later this week.