Weekly Update – February 28

Dear Neighbors,

The third week is wrapped up and the pace of the 2020 legislative session has yet to slow down. As the session keeps going, I encourage all of you to continue to reach out to me, schedule meetings, and voice your concerns. 

Below are just some of the highlights and topics being discussed. I appreciate you all sharing your thoughts and concerns with me and look forward to another week.

 

Hearing on SF 3177

On Monday, I had the privilege of presenting SF 3177 to the Human Services Reform Finance and Policy committee. This bill adds the requires that on-the-job training requirements for direct support staff providing licensed home and community-based services include strategies to minimize the risk of sexual violence, including concepts of healthy relationships, consent, and bodily autonomy of people with disabilities. People with intellectual disabilities are over seven times more likely to be the victim of sexual assault than people without disabilities. This is an important step forward for the disabled community.

Emergency Insulin

The House of Representatives this week debated and passed HF 3100, a bill to establish an emergency insulin program and longer-term insulin assistance program to help patients struggling to afford the life-sustaining drug. The House plan establishes an insulin assistance account supported by fees on insulin manufacturers, who have increased prices 1,000% since 1999. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate so the companion bill is heard in the Senate. (SF 3164)

Voter Privacy

Also this week, the House passed HF 3068, a bill to ensure voters in the March 3 presidential nominating primary have assurances their party-participation data will not be used for political purposes. National party rules require the state to record which party’s nominating ballot a person requests in this primary. The Secretary of State recommended the changes outlined in this bill, which ensure party chairs may only use the information to validate participation with the national parties and may not share or use the information in any other manner.

I have been working to address constituent concerns about their privacy in the primary elections, but, unfortunately, the Senate has been deadlocked by partisan lines in appropriately addressing the whole issue within a single bill.

Gun Violence Prevention

Finally, the House also passed HF 8, universal background checks and HF 9, emergency risk protection orders (red flag laws). The passage of these laws will help save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, as proven in other states, including those with Republican legislatures and governors. I’m proud to be an advocate for these live-saving provisions and will work to advance them in the Senate.

Upcoming Community Events

What: Home Alone Safety for Kids
Where: Mounds View Community Center
When: Thursday, March 12th 9AM-2:30PM
Ages 9-12, Cost is $20

What: Vadnais Heights Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Where: Vadnais Heights Community Park
When: Saturday, April 4th
FREE, visit the city website for more details

Weekly Update – February 21

Dear Neighbors,

The second week of the 2020 legislative session was busy with many days on the hill and various groups visiting. I appreciate all those who came to visit this week! Committees also began meeting again this week, I’m excited for the busy weeks to come.  

Below are just some of the highlights and topics being discussed. I appreciate you all sharing your thoughts and concerns with me and look forward to another week.

 

Second Chance Coalition advocates at the Capitol

The Minnesota Second Chance Coalition held a press conference this week advocating for their 2020 Legislative Agenda. The organization advocates for effective, just, and responsible laws, policies, and practices to ensure that individuals who have been involved in the justice system have meaningful second chances, so everyone has a path to achieve self-sufficiency and an opportunity to contribute to their communities. They also advocate for policy changes to ensure system-involved youth are not limited in their ability to become successful adults. A group of constituents from the organization visited my office this week.

U of M, MinnState present bonding requests to Higher Education Committee

Higher education funding has been short-changed since 2017. We are working towards fully funding higher education maintaining higher education facilities and programs within the University of Minnesota and MinnState.

Representatives from MinnState and the University of Minnesota gave overviews of their 2020 capital investment requests to the members of the Higher Education Committee this week. Governor Walz has proposed a nearly $490 million for higher education infrastructure this session, but it is unclear as to what the Senate will put forward – though it is likely to be considerably lower than the governor’s proposal, despite the growing needs on campuses across the state.

No action was taken on either request; final decisions on bonding requests will be made later in the legislative session. Left unaddressed, these serious needs will continue to be barriers to learning and educational excellence.

Fireworks bill returns to the Capitol with a bang

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard a bill this week allowing the sale and use of aerial fireworks in Minnesota. Proponents of the bill say aerial fireworks are already being purchased by Minnesotans in bordering states for use at their homes, so the state might as well gain from the sales tax revenue.

Opponents are concerned about safety, citing a sharp increase in fireworks-related injuries starting in 2002, when non-aerial fireworks were made legal in Minnesota. They fear injuries would increase even more if aerial fireworks are legalized. Some in the fireworks industry also fear there aren’t enough protections in the bill to safely operate businesses in Minnesota.
The committee added an amendment that would ban the sale of fireworks only in the seven-county metro area.

The bill (SF 1621) will be heard next in Local Government. As this bill advances, I would love to hear your feedback.

Weekly Update – February 14

Dear Neighbors,

Our first week of the 2020 legislative session is a wrap. It feels good to be back at the capitol advocating for the people of District 42. I hope to see you all at the capitol this session! 

Below are just some of the highlights and topics being discussed. I appreciate you all sharing your thoughts and concerns with me and look forward to another week.

 

TCE Remains a Priority

Myself and other legislators gathered to show our continued support regarding TCE. Proposals put forward this session in response to the toxic release of Trichloroethylene (TCE) at the Water Gremlin Company in White Bear Township were largely ignored by the Senate majority last session. A new package of TCE related bills will be rolled out this session. I remain committed to passing this important legislation this session.

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Patients still waiting for emergency insulin access

The cost of insulin has tripled in the last 10 years, putting a burden on thousands of Minnesotans, while the three insulin manufacturers that control more than 90% of the U.S. Republicans presented a bill to the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee this week that provides a partial assistance program funded entirely by taxpayers. Fewer patients would qualify under the Republican proposal, the emergency program would only offer a 60-day supply, and the copay would be $75 per 30-day supply. This program also would expire in 2023, meaning diabetics would be facing uncertainty again in just a few years.Urgent action must be taken to address the epidemic of patients rationing insulin because they cannot afford the life-sustaining drug. I am committed to working to find a bipartisan approach this session that puts the needs of Minnesotan’s first.

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A group of East Metro legislators met with Congresswoman McCollum on Friday morning. I am proud to serve with such a hardworking group of people. Thanks for the conversation!