Established in tribute of William B. Garner, who successfully marshalled the nation's first boat operator licensing law through state legislature, the Garner Award is presented to those men and women whose outstanding effort and achievement have elevated state or federal policy interventions to heights not previously attained. Any representative of state or federal government in active service or retired (living at the time of selection) is eligible for this award.
After the tragic loss of a seven-year-old girl named Sophia to carbon monoxide poisoning in Minnesota, Senator Melisa Franzen and Representative Jerry Hertaus came together with Sophia’s parents to try to find a way to prevent future carbon monoxide tragedies.
After working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and other organizations, they crafted a bill that would give Minnesota the most stringent carbon monoxide laws in the nation while balancing the capabilities of industry to be able to respond to the law. They guided the bill through the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives, making sure the bill passed and gained the governor’s signature.
Because of their persistence, partnership, and leadership, which resulted in the passing of Sophia’s Law, this year’s Garner Leadership Award is given to Senator Melisa Franzen and Representative Jerry Jerry Hertaus. Minnesota’s Boating Law Administrator, Stan Linnell, accepted the award on their behalf.